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Access to Properties & it’s Importance

Here is something that no one really thinks about when it comes to renting or owning a rental property but something that is relevant and impacts tenants & owners alike. Something as simple as, Access. Access into properties and the need/importance of access during a tenancy.

Why is this a relevant topic?

Well, access forms a big part of a Property Managers’ role. Planning it, coordinating it, managing it. It’s of course not as simple as it sounds or might seem when you have to manage people, their schedules, and legislation. Also, when you’re talking about accessing people’s homes, their private & safe spaces in situations when they’re not at home, it’s not so simple.

Access is needed for various reasons and the knock-on effects of not properly managing access needs can be detrimental to not only the landlord but the property itself, neighbours, and tenants. Imagine, what is needed, as an example if one unit is leaking into another or when the landlord’s bank urgently requires a valuation on their investment property for refinancing or financing their own home. Things can fall apart quickly where access is not provided.

Strata Properties do tend to have more access needs than say a free-standing property does, there are building inspections and repairs that need to be done and landlords are usually fined when access isn’t provided. Adding to the confusion is that in Strata title complexes there are two fire compliance-related inspections required. One of these is managed by Strata for their annual council certification, and the other being the landlords responsibility to ensure smoke alarms are compliant. Both of these inspections are for completely separate checks despite both being “fire safety” related. In some cases, fines can be and are passed onto tenants when inspections are missed and re-attendance is needed.

“As it turns out, tenants and landlords possibly don’t want to talk to an App, a bot or outsourced staff overseas perhaps”

In the course of our day-to-day role, me and my team, coordinate access for a wide variety of reasons, some of these being for;

Repairs, Maintenance & Quotes
Annual Smoke Alarm Compliance Checks (landlord)
Strata / Building Managements Annual Fire Safety Inspections
Routine Inspections
Valuations & Depreciation Inspections
Strata Maintenance, Investigation & Repairs
Open Home Inspections (when a tenant is set to vacate)

This list can go on but you get the gist. We as the managing agents can’t provide access for each and every matter and we don’t because it’s simply not realistic to but we do step in where it is necessary or reasonable for us to. See, tenancies are not a set-and-forget matter where a tenant moves in and in an ideal world is left to their own devices.

Routine Inspections for example are not only an important part of a Property Managers role but crucial in identifying issues or potential hazards. It’s simply a fact that some tenants get busy and at times complacent, so on an almost weekly basis my routine inspections manage to pick up an issue that a tenant hasn’t noticed or gotten around to reporting. Last week it was a shower membrane leaking which was discolouring the floorboards in the adjoining room, next week, who knows. The importance of a Property Managers inspections can’t be undermined, of course we’re not builders, but having eyes on a property saves many shocks and surprises down the track.

What landlords don’t always see is all of the tasks that go on in the background, and that’s why they have a Property Manager. A Property Manager needs to be able to manage the complications surrounding access and to ensure it occurs. Over time, tenants may feel that access visits become too frequent and inconvenient between their own busy lives and ultimately wanting their home to be quiet & peaceful for them to enjoy.

To tenants reading, I would say that unfortunately, these access visits are a necessary part of the renting process though ideally there would be some extended periods when access is not needed. Note, the majority of access needs are beyond the agent or landlord’s control.

To landlords, I say that access in some circumstances is essential, and in some cases when access isn’t granted, it leaves your property open to risks such as being non-compliant and possibly voiding your insurance or breaching your obligations under the tenancies act.

While having a Property Manager minimises these risks they are not wholly eliminated unless you can be certain of your compliance status. What I will also say is that landlords and agents need to be mindful that access should be kept to what is actually necessary so as to avoid any unnecessary visits and save the goodwill you have with tenants for times when access is really needed.

We have a set of procedures to manage and ensure access which minimises the inconvenience on tenants, provide ample notice and any opportunities for flexibility. From sending notices, following up where needed and issuing reminders when access is requested or needed. What is crucial here is that we are responsive to all requests and needs for access, and ensuring that Strata Managers and Trades are given the respective tenant’s most up-to-date contact details.

Being an agile agency, we can offer to be physically present when it is necessary to help tenants out, especially as it also helps us to have eyes on the properties that we manage at the same time. We build strong relationships with our tenants which helps them to be quite comfortable when giving us permission to go into their homes with our spare keys, it’s not as though they’re not letting just any employee of an agency that they have never met. If we run into issues with access it also helps that we have a thorough understanding of the legislation and how to apply it when needed.

So yes, access and everything that it entails is a huge part of our role. I’d be more concerned if no one was accessing your property.

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– Antonio

Director & Property Manager