Buying off the plan and into a New Development? Read this!

26/04/2019

With so many New Developments being delivered in and around Sydney many of these new properties are being bought as investment properties, I’ve heard estimates of 200,000 new properties being completed this year alone.

It’s likely that this trend will continue, having been the first property manager to oversee the hand over, leasing and ongoing management of several new properties I thought it’d be useful to share my experiences of some common occurrences when buying new.

This is also a post that maybe a few of my clients would’ve liked to have come across before they had purchased, they’re Investment property off the plan or in a Newly completed building.

This isn’t to say in any way that they’ve made a bad decision but there are somethings that a developer or selling agent won’t tell you. I don’t sell so have nothing to lose!

Further to that, as a Property Manager it’s on us to foresee these issues where possible but some have been new and surprising, even to me.

NEW BUILDINGS MEAN, NEW…

  • …Defects

A new building is not and never without some form of defect or defects but owners and agents will be provided with a guide on how to deal with these and they should be reported as soon as possible to the appropriate person.

New Buildings are increasingly improving their procedures and the information they provide at handover.

Defects can be anything from patchy paint work, doors that don’t line up, appliances not connected (it’s happened) leaks or any number of teething issues.

The first tenants will likely pick up on these as they start to settle in so it is crucial to make sure tenants are assured that you want these issues reported and as soon as possible so that these defects do not become the owner’s responsibility down the track.

 

  • …Rules

Move ins (and outs)

Many newer buildings now require that tenants pre book they’re physical move in date along with a timeframe, some even require that tenants leave a deposit in case of any damage to common areas.

For the most part it’s to ensure that there aren’t an excessive number of move ins at any one time, or that the move will disturb other occupants. It also allows the building managers time to put up protection curtains within the elevators or assign a lift for the tenants use.

It’s also important to know if the building doesn’t allow moves over the weekend- have been caught out there, and never again. Weekends are tenants preferred move in dates so new tenants need to know well ahead of time and generally book well in advance is as they will decline requests where there are other bookings already set.

 

TIP: Make sure your agent has the appointed Strata Manager and/or Building Managers details so that they can obtain all the information they need.

 

Keys

Security keys, swipes and access cards are strictly limited in newer buildings where the aim is to really ensure the building is only accessed by those that need access. Definitely something to be mindful of if you have 3 Tenants, and your access limit is 3 security passes per apartment- this means no spare set available. See Costs sub-heading to follow!

 

By-Laws

Every building has its own set of By-Laws, these always need to be reviewed but especially within a new complex so things like I’ve mentioned above can be picked up.

New Properties should come with an Owners Guide which will include;

-By Laws

-Contacts for Developers, Builders, Strata and Building Managers

-Instructions relating to appliances and fittings

-Procedure for reporting issues, defects

 

Worthwhile sharing with your tenants as well!

 

  • …Costs

You’ve paid for a brand-new property but are there hidden costs? Well there may be.

If you have more tenants on a lease than you have security keys these need to be provided to all tenants listed on the lease, some buildings limit how many they’ll issue to each property- that limit could be just at settlement or a limit imposed permanently.

With a new building, will come a New Development Charge if your tenant wants to be connected to the NBN. Currently $300.00, as to who’s responsibility it is to pay is highly debatable. While the lease will state it’s the tenant’s responsibility, a lot of advice on this leads to fact that owners “should” reimburse tenants as that connection will remain with the property long after the first tenants have moved.

Does your property come with Blinds?

A worthwhile question asking at the point of purchase or you’ll need to provide these for tenants and arrange them once you have possession. From my experience most New Developments don’t come with any window coverings.

Repairs are inevitable with all rental properties and one would think that with a new property there would be little to maintain, and you would be right as most repairs would come under defects so reporting these are crucial in the first weeks.

 

  • & Look out for!

When doing your Pre-Settlement Inspection, which should be the time you’re looking for defects is to take a close look at the finished paint job.

Not only obvious patchy paint work but it’s sometimes obvious that new apartments are only given one undercoat and one coat of paint, you’ll be able to tell by the appearance and it is especially obvious on any internal door frames.

Have a feel of bench tops surfaces and floor boards, while everyone loves the look of raw materials in many cases, I’ve seen unsealed surfaces that are no good when it comes to every day spills and these materials will soak up stains. While the builders may not rectify this it’s something that should be detailed at the time of purchase, specifically materials and finishes. Whatever assurances or inclusions are promised- get it in writing!

 

TIP: Agents need to make sure that the Strata & Building Managers know who is managing the apartment and ahead of any tenants moving in. They need contacts in order to resolve any issues.

 

  • …Competition

When a new building gets its final tick of approval, AKA an occupation certificate, new owners will rush to get their keys.

Then the individual properties will start to surface on the rental market and where the properties are all new and appearing online one after the other, pricing is everything.

Your pricing really will be based on how your property sits against the others. Is your floor plan more practical and spacious? Do you have a better aspect?

What I did in a recent situation was unashamedly attend the competitions inspections, being upfront about who I was of course to see where we sat compared to other properties and priced it accordingly.

Thinking as a tenant though, if you’re looking in a new building, you’re also likely to have a look at as many available properties as possible and they’re likely to have their pick based on preference.

 

TIP: If you’re paying for professional photography, have your photos watermarked with the agent’s logo- or it’ll be a free for all to use- at your expense.

 

Up Soon –  I’ll cover some General Tips for Strata Buyers

Property Management Volumes & Procrastination

4/4/2019

Speaking from experience I’ve always believed that these factors impact greatly on the service and delivery that clients and tenants experience within Property Management.

Maybe more broadly these are issues impacting so many other industries!

VOLUME:

I mean the number of properties that a Property Manager needs to have under their management in order for their position, and the business that they work within to be viable.

I was chatting with a tenant the other day and he was asking how business was going and how I was managing it, I said something along the lines of it going quite smoothly especially as I was now only managing just under 50 properties. They’re response was “ONLY!”, yes only. I’ve worked in offices managing up to 250 with minimal administration support.

Of course I want to slowly increase my portfolio but in a sustainable and manageable way and will max out at some stage where there’ll be a need for assistance. But get in while you can ;p

The numbers of properties that the majority of property managers have under their watch is simply too many. It’s already a mammoth task being organised enough to smoothly manage these figures but for so many property managers it can just take one situation occurring that sends everything else crashing down, and it’s the norm for unexpected situations to arise, Constantly.

Obviously, a business needs to be profitable but what do we see when volume is always running at its upper limits, we see Staff turnover, dissatisfied clients that go elsewhere and complaints. It also leaves no room for growth either.

As an investor, you really should find out how many properties your Property Manager has under their management, after all, what are you paying for when you can’t get a call or email response for 2-3 days.

What about the Staff turnover that this model creates, Property Managers burn out and when they do, they leave the industry or that particular office they take with them all of their knowledge about your property – information and knowledge that can’t be all included in a handover- where handovers are rare!

New recruits are not lining up to get into property management, let’s be honest, they either want to get into Real estate sales or stay away all together.

Procrastination:

2019 started off with a lot of online chatter about procrastination and how it really is the handbrake of progress and a real stressor to many people. We all do it, not just Property Managers but I’ve seen a lot of it in my time.

In Property Management I think much of the time, procrastination may just be a person that’s been non-stop busy, relishing whatever down time they can get and therefore just putting off tasks that are non-urgent. I can almost see the rational there but whatever that task is, it will continue to just get put off Until it becomes urgent and in property management- like many roles- we should be proactive instead of reactive.

Within Property Management though procrastinating a specific task turns a non-urgent issue into an urgent one quickly, simply because that proactive approach is needed.

Property Management is a stressful space and it’s deferring stress that leads to procrastination because we as humans worry about the short term.

Explained clearly in a New York Times article I recently read “Put simply; Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as “the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.” A worthwhile read, the article can be found here.

Basically, a Good Property Manager needs to “Just do It” and get on with the tasks at hand.

So how do you know as a Landlord when choosing an agent, the service that you can expect:

-Ask.                     How many properties does your potential property manager look after? You need to know where you sit amongst a sea of properties and clients that they are managing.

-Observe.             How quick is the turnaround time for simple or even more involved enquiries and questions? If it’s slow, it doesn’t usually improve over time.

And Remember. The service that you receive is similar to that of which your tenant is going to experience, and we need tenants to be looked after!

The Right Landlords Insurance

8/3/2019

These days we insure everything and as a landlord it’s now seen as must to have a policy in place that covers you as a landlord, the choice of policies are endless which has made for some competitive pricing.

Did you know;

Many of the larger insurers, where we insure our home, cars, income and lives offer policies for landlords insurance that don’t cover for events such as accidental damage or what they sometimes refer to as a result of “Bad House keeping.”

Getting the right policy is not always clear but so important.

Claiming on your landlord’s insurance policy shouldn’t be and isn’t in my experience a regular occurrence but where a Bond can be consumed so quickly for Rent Arrears, Invoices, Damages and cleaning it’s a must have in place, if you as a landlord, do not wish to bear a financial loss when a tenant vacates your property or a typically insured event occurs.

Pursuing a tenant where a property has been damaged or the tenant has absconded can be a minefield, and most property managers can guide you through or facilitate that process, BUT, there’s only so far we can go.

Property Managers can get Tribunal issued orders and attempt to have those orders enforced via a local court or even a Debt recovery agency but those do Add on more costs in fee’s and charges which the landlord needs to cover until recovery or a successful insurance claim.

A better alternative is a thorough Landlords insurance policy (some costs less than $1.00 per day), believe me this is not an advertising situation as I can’t legally recommend any one Insurer but I can advise of several companies that give you a policy you can actually claim on when need be.

A Great Example;

A tenant had vacated the property leaving us with a small amount of rent owing, cleaning and repairs to walls which quickly consumed the rental bond. They’d also obviously been preparing food directly onto a New Marble Benchtop leaving knife marks across the marble surface. The Owner was not covered for what the insurer classed to be Bad Housekeeping and had to pay to rectify the damage. Despite enforcement orders and Listing this tenant on a database the owner did not recoup their loss.

This was a policy costing $900 per annum, Insurance from a Landlord Insurance specific provider would have provided coverage at a cost of $323.00 per annum and would have covered the cost of re polishing and surface protecting the marble.

It’s not all that hard to change and the cost savings should be motivation enough.

The take away advice here is get your current policy and check it twice and if you don’t have landlords insurance then get it!

What to look for?

You need to be covered for:

  • Loss of Rent
  • Hardship
  • Absconding
  • Failing to give vacant possession
  • Defaulting on Rent
  • Accidental & Malicious Damage
  • Theft
  • Pet Damage
  • Flood Damage
  • Death of a Tenant
  • Hardship
  • Fire
  • Storm / Water Damage
  • Legal Expenses
  • Liability
  • Drug Lab Clean Up (yes)
  • Loss and damage as a result of Domestic Violence

Most of the policies from specific Landlord Insurers cover all of these items above, whilst I can’t recommend you to one insurer for legal reasons, you can ask me for Brochures of several insurers that I have worked with in the past so you can make an informed decision.

In the end you’re paying for peace of mind and protecting yourself from potential financial hardship if you end up with unexpected costs and a property in a state that can’t be re let straight away.

Tips on Preventing and Managing Mould

22/2/19

Property Managers fear it, tenants hate it and owners are usually just confused by it but it is unfortunately a part of life in many properties in Sydney so we have to talk about Mould.

Why it’s a thing, why it’s an issue and a serious sticking point when it comes to renting, managing it and who exactly is responsible. So here goes!

Despite the common belief that there is always an underlying building issue or source of its appearance in many cases it just isn’t so as many properties are susceptible to mould due to factors such as a lack of natural light and ventilation and allowing a property to be ventilated to outside is a big factor in allowing mould to grow and spread.

Mould’s organisms (part of the common fungi group) are airborne everywhere, indoors and outdoors. It is in moist and inadequately ventilated areas’ that inhibits its growth it thrives on moisture and organic material.

Another important note is that mould needs to be cleaned / killed as it appears but not just from walls, from clothing, glass and window frames really wherever it appears and thoroughly. It will otherwise continue to grow if the environment allows it to. All forms of mould have some potential to cause health problems.

The responsibility of a mould issue can be summarised by Landlords being required to address any dampness issue, i.e. a leak or water penetration issue that is causing the problem, however a tenant must ventilate the premises and is advised to clean mould as it appears.

There are ways in which mould can be managed and in a Residential Tenancy it does require some effort on the tenant’s part so here are some tips I’ve gathered from NSW Health, the office of fair trading, experience as well as other agents.

Some Important Points:

  • If not removed/ cleaned then mould will grow and spread. Mould can be removed using either a household bleach, specific mould cleaning product or wiping down the area with Vinegar.
  • The appearance of mould does not always indicate that there is an underlying issue i.e. a leak or water penetration issue.

How to Prevent Mould and Manage it

Allow and ensure proper ventilation as preventative meaning;

  • Ventilate areas to the outside, windows and doors whenever possible and practical
  • While drying clothes, either hanging or using a dryer, ensure you ventilate or do so in a cool area of the property to ensure less moisture is held in the air
  • Use any available exhaust fans or vents in bathrooms or laundry
  • Dry clothes and footwear thoroughly prior to storing them
  • Do not block any fan vents and keep free of any build up
  • Allow Sunlight into the home whenever possible by opening blinds during the day
  • Doors and windows should be open whenever practical, overnight condensation on windows should be allowed to dry or dried out where possible
  • Furniture and items should not be pushed up directly against the walls, as this creates dark airless areas allowing for mould to grow
  • Dehumidifiers do work when used, most agents or landlords will happily supply one when requested, they draw moisture out of the air in affected areas, they may not be a permanent solution but they do what ventilating would do when you can’t ventilate properly or securely

“Regular ventilation and cleaning of any mould that appears should prevent re occurrence”

Hope this can somewhat dispel some theories and thoughts about Mould, let me know if you have any other thoughts or want to ready about any other issues. I’m all ears!

Antonio 🙂

My Take on the 2019 Rental Market

17/12/2018

This late in the year it’s now most likely that a lot of property owners, unfortunately, will be seeing their properties sit vacant over the Christmas period until significant numbers of prospective tenants hit the streets in mid-January and onward.

This is not from a lack of trying as seeing first hand, properties being offered with incentives such as rent-free periods and some significant rent reductions offering good value to tenants that are willing to move just before Christmas or start their year off with a pre-planned move. I’m also noticing properties listed for Lease with multiple agents, prospective tenants notice that too and sometimes find that a bit off putting.

Come 2019 several new high density developments are set for completion and continuing development will be adding onto an already constant and ample level of supply.

Tenants typically have the rental market in December but mid to late January and into February typically does see an increase in demand for properties.

My thoughts are that we’ll see a slower than usual January with only properties with the best offerings and value for tenants being snapped up first.

Predicted Growth Areas / The one’s to watch:

Several suburbs are being eyed as the ones to watch in 2019 for both an increase in rental demand and interest from investors, touching on a few of these areas where we manage property there are also other suburbs being closely watched on the North Shore, areas such as Brookvale and Millers Point.

-Eveleigh

+ Carriage works developments

+ Growing and evolving Commercial Technology Park with several notable occupants

+ Proximity to Arts / café scene i.e. Erskineville, Newtown & Redfern,

+ Ease of access to transport & the CBD

-Waterloo

+ New Apartments

+ Danks Street precinct

+ Metro / Train line under construction (Raglan & Cope Streets)

+ Proximity to CBD & Airport Access

-Maroubra

+ Affordability where compared to Coogee & Bondi

+ Beach side lifestyle

+ Gentrification continues

+ Access & infrastructure improvements in the works

-Breakfast Point

+ Walking Tracks, Parks on the Waterfront

+ Quality development of well designed communities

+ Easy Ferry commute along the Parramatta River

What do I see ahead for the New Year?

  • Amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act coming into place, read what this means for you in my Tenancy Reforms Blog Post. Changes will impact tenants, owners and agents alike and change the way many of us do business and what we as Agents and Owners offer to tenants
  • Reforms and changes to licensing rules and training requirements for Registered and Licensed Real Estate Agents
  • Very slight rent increases with more owners opting to secure and retain good tenants, owners will be more conscious of minimising vacancy and prioritising keeping their tenants’ content especially considering more flexibility for tenants to be able to Break their leases down the track and fluctuating vacancy rates
  • New rental supply from developments nearing completion in growth areas such as Mascot and Green Square which will see rents in these areas flatten out due to competition
  • Increase in Vacancy Rates due to new apartment development stock
  • Landlords holding onto their rental properties and holding back from selling where they can buffer for vacancy and rents that aren’t increasing
  • Influx of first home buyers which could spell and increase in investors as well as tenants moving to purchasing in a down Sydney market. A third of first home buyers are said to be rent-vesting instead of buying their first home.

And with certainty, much media hype about the doom and gloom of the Sydney Property Market so definitely a lot of attention will be focused there throughout the year. So in that regard nothing is unchanged from 2018 🙂

As the New Year and its cycle take us where they will, there’ll always be the need to navigate through new legislation, ensuring compliance and working through an ever-changing rental market and I’ll keep on blogging about it all.

Next year i’ll be bringing you some new blog posts regarding Depreciation Schedules, yields and return on investment and hope to have some guest bloggers on board from the world of finance and buyers’ agents in the New Year as well as well as some worthy content to my clients in my E-Newsletters.

What do you want to read about though?

If you have any suggestions as to what you’d like to read about in 2019 feel free to reach out, I am always open to thoughts and suggestions!

Best Wishes ahead of the festive season and thanks for your following this year 🙂

Antonio

Sydney Rental Market Update – November 2018

21/11/2018

Meet the Market, Instead of Testing It

Within the last week I’ve read conflicting reports about the state of Sydney’s rental market one quoting vacancy rates are down and the other stating the opposite. So what am I and fellow Property Managers seeing on the front line?

Amidst the doom and gloom of a weakening Auction Clearance rates and Median sales prices, for Property Managers of late it’s been business as usual when considering this time of year typically does slow down in terms of availability and lettings.

Looking at the Inner Sydney Market Vacancy rates:

November          2017 – 2.1%

August                2018 – 2.9%

September         2018 – 2.4%

And most recently October 2018 upwards to 2.8%.

So whilst this is a fluctuating market we are at the end of what is typically known as a property boom especially in the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

Despite all of the negative media attention (doom & gloom) I remain quite positive about the assets we manage within Sydney.
There is always a fair bit of hype surrounding vacancy rates but look at the supply that’s coming to the rental market but remembering that the type of supply is not typically suited to all. We still have tenants wanting character filled terraces and art-deco style apartments over new, off the plan high density housing.

Speaking with other Property Managers they feel that properties that good quality properties with attractive features are leasing and especially where the rents reflect the market.

In terms of rents I personally haven’t carried out any increases or tested the market when re letting simply because the market isn’t reflecting an increase. In these cases, it’s seen that minimising vacancy is the highest priority with clients wanting to meet the market instead of testing it. From my conversations with other agents, many are not reviewing or recommending rent increases for current tenancies.

In many cases, first hand and as discussed with other Property Managers, properties can take a week or two longer to lease but it’s not all about dropping rents. Investors can still thrive in this market where logical decisions are being made and the agent does all that they can to ensure every opportunity has been explored.

Just as it is in the sales market, it’s not all about putting a property on the market and opening the door, agents must work harder and go out of their way to achieve results.

A good test of the Sydney rental market and vacancy rates will be in the New Year where rental properties are typically in higher demand, we just need to get through the festive season and later judge if 2019 can bring about any rent increases, otherwise it might be best not to rock the boat.

What should you expect from a Property Manager

8/11/2018

I was going to include this in my FAQ recent post which can be found here, but the answer became a bit drawn out, hence why it gets its own post.

When it comes to Property Managers it’s safe to say that a lot of Owners and Tenants have unfortunately low expectations, preparing them for lessened or expected disappointment when things go wrong and because of this we have an industry with transient clients, constantly changing Property Management providers.

Low expectations can also make exceeding expectations an easier task for Property Managers, do standards therefore decline?

So what are some of the expectations that you should have of your Property Manager, quite simple and basic in my opinion especially when considering that Property Management is essentially a service providing industry.

A Good Working Relationship

Whilst you’re not interviewing for your future best friend, you need to be able to communicate openly and honestly with your Property Manager and be well aligned in your aim and how you want your property managed. Make your preferences clear from the outset and gage the Property Managers willingness to deliver.

– Honest and Open Communication

– Develop Rapport and an Understanding

Experience

Whilst everyone must start somewhere, at the very least a Property Manager should have experience in managing their own assigned portfolio of properties. You ideally want someone that’s been in the industry long enough to know their market and has been around long enough to have experienced some of the pitfalls first hand, it isn’t always smooth sailing. In essence, expect that the Property Manager knows what they’re doing and when an enquiry or issue arises that they know how to respond to it and handle it.

– Tried and Tested on the Job Experience

– Knowledgeable in their field

Attention to Detail

Necessary for Property Managers throughout their role, Property Managers need to be across a lot of detail. From thorough inspections and reporting you want someone who can point out possible repercussions and therefore be proactive in preventing issues whether they be short or long term. As an owner or a tenant, you’re unlikely to know all of the ins and outs so having an adviser on all matters demonstrates their level of experience, attention to detail and communication skills.

– Proactive approach

– Detailed and specific reporting

Communication

A significant complaint I’ve heard from Owners and Tenants is a lack of communication, and it’s the most significant sticking point for many. Not replying to phone calls or emails in a timely manner, or at all in some cases, cannot be seen as acceptable in a service providing industry. You should expect effective communication and in a timely manner, anything less builds frustration and resentment. A lot of the time my clients and tenants just want to hear something, even if I have nothing ground breaking to report on a particular issue at least they know that I’m onto it, haven’t forgotten about or provide whatever update I have which doesn’t leave people wondering what is going on.

A lack of communication can be attributed to time poor Property managers or those who don’t have time management skills and that can mean a lack of organisation – another must have attribute for someone managing many properties and a wide-ranging list of daily activities.

– Highly Organised

– Regular and timely Communication

Time and Time Management Skills

Is it that they’re busy because of a heavy work load from a large portfolio or a simple lack of support? In the end a Property needs time devoted to it if it’s to be effectively managed. That means inspections, communication and coordination. If your property and its needs aren’t given time then small issues become significant ones. So, while delays in getting issues resolved can happen you can expect that they shouldn’t be caused by your Property Manager but more so followed up and pushed along by them.

– Responsive and timely communication

– Available to deal with enquiries

Knowledge of the Act and Updates to Legislation

Thorough, up to date and ongoing education is a must in this field, with the Residential Tenancies Act being reviewed every five years as well as regular regulation changes it can’t be up to an Owner or Tenant to keep abreast of all the changes that are relevant to them. It is a Property Managers role to ensure that all activity related to Owners, Tenants and the agreements in place are compliant and to pass on relevant education to owners and tenants so that all parties are in the know and ensuring they’ve taken appropriate steps towards being compliant as well.

– Communicating and sharing of relevant updates

– Continuing educating of themselves and therefore clients and tenants where relevant

Problem Solving Skills

Within reason expect that when there is a problem that you’ll be given some solutions or at the least some options that will lead to a solution. A Property Manager should always be focused on a resolution and not solely dwelling on the issue, where seeking instructions a Property Manager should offer suggestions or guidance and not simply be a messenger requesting instruction but actively take part in the Problem solving.

– Provide realistic and practical options towards solutions

– Focus on the Solution not the Problem

 People and Listening Skills

Whilst it’s a Property Industry it’s even more so a people industry, when working with people’s properties and tenants homes some level of emotion and attachment is ultimately involved. People need to be treated with respect, empathy and courtesy so you want someone that will take care of a property but more so the people residing in it and clients.

– Active Listening i.e. Concentrating on what is being said, not passively hearing

– Acknowledging and Accepting of feedback and taking it on board

 

So how do you find a Property Manager that will meet your expectations?

The most helpful way is to ask for honest opinions and recommendations from family, friends or colleagues.

Failing that, do your research and find a Property Manager that suits your needs and can deliver on your brief, once you have short listed a few, meet with them individually and ask questions. Find out how many properties they manage, is the Director Involved in Property Management and do they have support and backing of a team.

Meet with the person that will be managing your property on the front line and use your intuition as well.

Lay out your expectations so you can be given some assurance that they can be met, a good property manager will tell you honestly if your expectations or instructions are not realistic or inline with proper practice, they should be able to communicate effectively and therefore not be afraid of raising concerns or having a difficult conversation.

Remember that it’s preferable to be aiming for a working relationship that is hassle free and enduring, in the long term you’re best off having the same person across all aspects on your Investment’s management as that person becomes familiar with your property as well as your goals and the way in which you want things done.

To Summarise:

Property Managers are, at no fault of their own, sometimes handed a large portfolio of Properties to manage and it’s not unusual for one Property Manager to oversee the management of 200 Properties. If that portfolio is not being managed well or is a difficult portfolio that needs a lot of work then the service provided will reflect this and the efficiency needed will not be there.

While I firmly believe the expectations, I’ve listed are reasonable in some cases, Property Managers generally need to be cut some slack. It’s a tough role and it’s not for everyone so make sure you find the right one and then hold onto them.

You’ll be made a lot of Promises as either a tenant or owner, when these are met you’ll know you’re onto a good thing.

10 Potential and Common Questions and Owner Might have, answered

18/10/2018

  1. Should I pay additional costs for Professional photography when marketing my property?

Professional Photography is being highly used across most advertised rental properties nowadays and it’s a worthwhile investment. A set of professional photos shows your property in the best light and makes your marketing present in line with the majority of properties listed. Have a scroll through domain.com.au or realestate.com.au and you’ll see some really poor photography that won’t get potential tenants through the door. Photos can generally be reused several times if the property remains in the same state.

 

  1. How much vacancy is there usually between tenancies?

This always depends on supply and demand but good planning and best practice should have your agent planning and allowing a minimum of 2-3 business days in between any tenancies. This ensures there is time for a final inspection, any cleaning or necessary repairs to be carried out to ensure your property is ready to start your next tenancy on the right footing.

 

  1. Do I really need landlords Insurance?

Put simply, Yes! Just like you ideally wouldn’t drive your car without insurance the same goes for an investment property. The bond can be consumed so quickly with rent, cleaning and damage whether it be accidental or malicious.

Landlords insurance can equate to as little as $1 per day. My recommendation is to always go with a specialist Landlord Insurance provider.

 

  1. Every agent recommends Annual Smoke Alarm servicing, is this a must?

It is highly recommended because it properly documents that you have taken steps to be compliant in ensuring a working smoke alarm is fitted. Outsourcing this to a professional for a small fee of $99.00 is paying for peace of mind as you are issued with a certificate of compliance and the annual fee covers as many call outs as necessary throughout the year.

 

  1. What do agents mean when they offer “Portal” or online access to information?

This means an owner & tenant for that matter has 24/7 access to their statements, access to any invoices and can check things like, the lease expiry, balance of rent held and where their tenant is paid up to.

Landlords also have access to see any maintenance that is pending or completed.

The portal I utilise also displays past inspection reports and anything I feel is important to share with clients. It also gives tenants access to receipts, shows them where they’re up to and next due.

 

  1. Should I have my agent pay my outgoings, such as council rates, water rates etc?

This completely depends on your financial position as an agent will pay any invoices as they come in, from your rental income. It takes the onus off the owner. A major benefit is that at the end of the financial year all of your Income and expenditure is captured in a statement that your accountant can decipher in minutes, so for that it is worthwhile. Plus, it is one part of the service that agents offer inclusive of the management fee.

 

  1. Can I see my property during a tenancy?

Why not, if anything I’ve always thought it’s a good idea from time to time for an owner to see their property first hand with the agent present to discuss maintenance and/or to establish a maintenance plan, in order to maintain the property and its market value.

Tenants don’t seem to mind as long as the appropriate notice is given and it’s also a good opportunity to catch up with your agent.

 

8. How do I change agents when my Property is tenanted?

For the landlord it should be a simple as some paperwork.

The newly appointed agent will oversee the changeover process in contacting the tenant and liaising with the previous agent to collect everything all the necessary paperwork in relation to the property.

 

  1. Does changing Agents during a tenancy impact or inconvenience my tenants?

No, the only real change for tenants is who their new point of contact is and where they pay their rent to. Aside from that an inspection should be carried out for the new agent to familiarise themselves with the property and an opportunity for the agent to meet the tenant.

 

  1. Is using an Agents trades person the way to go for maintenance?

In most cases the agent will have a set of tried and tested contacts for repairs, maintenance and improvements. These tradespeople value their working relationships with an agent and it is in their best interest to ensure that a job is done effectively and efficiently.

Unless you have your own contacts then outsourcing the management of repairs and maintenance to your agent, on your instruction, is the most efficient way as the agent will keep records such as warranties and document details regarding the history of completed maintenance for your property.

If I’ve missed something you’re curious to know – as always feel free to reach out.

Tenant’s Questions Answered coming soon!

EIGHT FEATURES THAT WILL BOOST THE RENTAL RETURN OF YOUR PROPERTY

9/10/2018

Considering that Sydney experienced some unusually high vacancy rates over the past 3 Months I can say first hand that savvy tenants have had their pick of properties, locations and the amenities on offer.

In good news though, things have picked up over recent weeks with properties being tenanted quickly but it’s got a lot of Property Owners thinking and planning ahead to make sure they’re well placed ahead or amongst of the competition down the track.

We all know renovations and improvements don’t happen overnight so planning ahead or at the least keeping in mind that new kitchen down the track is something owners can do to prepare for reletting their property next time around.

I’d add to Kate Farrellys’ article below is, but maybe it’s a given that, there’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint!

”It’s never been more important for investors to understand which features deliver the best rental return” writes Kate Farrelly for Domain.

  1. Generous outdoor space

For Castran Gilbert BDM Andrew Rowland, big courtyards and balconies – those measuring 20 square metres or more – are paying dividends for investors.

In recent weeks he fielded above-average interest in a Mordialloc (Victoria) ground-floor apartment with a 25-square-metre courtyard on title. It leased at the asking price ahead of three upper-storey apartments in the same block, which are still on the market.

“Tenants are willing to pay a good amount more to have a good courtyard, particularly if they can have pets there. People go nuts for a big courtyard,” reports Andrew Rowland. A large private outdoor area will always appeal to tenants, who will pay a premium for such space.

  1. Pet-friendly

Michael Matusik, independent housing market analyst and director of Matusik Property Insights, says investors can achieve a rental premium of up to 20 %  for a pet-friendly apartment.

“Being able to have a small dog or certain animals is a real plus in the rental market,” he says, pointing out that owners who would otherwise be forced to give up their pet are often happy to pay extra rent to keep their animal.

My own experience shows there is more and more demand for pet-friendly places.

  1. Ample storage space

We find that a storage cage is an important feature with new apartments, as they sometimes lack internal storage – a cage allows for the storage of large items such as spare furniture, bikes, etcetera. Downsizers frequently have overflow belongings requiring storage, as do those with sporting equipment such as golf clubs and skis.

  1. Secure parking

Drive-in, secure parking is a definite plus for tenants.  Tenants prefer the ease and security of their own parking space and will pay extra rent for one or two spaces. It’s best to steer clear of stackers and car lifts, which might offer off-street parking in busy areas but can be a big turn-off for (particularly older) tenants.

  1. A nod to current trends

Timber floors are really popular, but if not then new carpeting is a major plus for tenants. Let’s add staying away from some trends! Think long term.

  1. A pleasant outlook and a northern aspect

While not everyone can afford a new apartment with a water or city skyline view, our experts agree you’ll always attract a better rental return if your property has a pleasant outlook from the living spaces and balcony.

“Tenants want to feel a sense of space, to see some sky, to see some trees. They don’t just want to look at a wall or panes of frosted glass,” states Andrew Rowland. We find many tenants look for apartments with a northerly aspect to maximise light and sunshine, and in the absence of these features the property can have a longer vacancy and a lower return.

  1. A size to match the demographic

“The returns are absolutely better on one-bedders in the inner-ring suburbs close to the city,” says Melbourne-based Rowland. “But once you get to the middle ring, two-bedders take over.”

Michael Matusik says one-bedders deliver high returns in locations where they attract premium professional tenants, giving the example of a doctor wanting to live close to a hospital. But elsewhere, Matusik says, apartments with two bedrooms and two bathrooms that allow share households generally deliver the best rental dollars.

  1. Location location location

Of course, real estate’s golden rule of location remains critical for securing a top rental return.

And when it comes to apartment living, Matusik says the increased density needs to be offset by quality outdoor and lifestyle amenities. “You’re trading your inside space for your outside space,” he says. “So, you need to ask the question: Can I go for a run, can I walk the dog, are there decent restaurants and coffee shops nearby?”  Matusik reports apartments within a five to 10-minute walk of transport will attract a higher rent, as will properties within walking distance of employment hubs, the beach and thriving shopping districts.

Source: Domain.com.au Article by Kate Farrelly

Updates Below: Tenancy Reforms, change is on the way!

Update: 4/12/2018  2019 Residential Tenancy Act: Stages & Timing

A recent update by the Real Estate Institute of NSW indicates that the reforms will be rolled out in two stages in 2019. Exact commencement dates of the new legislation hasn’t been announced as yet but will be sure to keep this updated. The below outline from the REINSW gives some approximate timing and the stages in which the changes will come into effect.

The stages ahead and timing

The anticipated approach is that the changes will be tackled in two stages:

1)      Stage 1: Domestic violence related reforms (this would include a declaration form in the schedule to the Regulations)

2)      Stage 2: Remaining reforms.

Stage 1

NSW Fair Trading are looking to commence stage 1 prior to March 2019. This means that targeted consultation will occur over the coming weeks on the declaration form which has been issued to REINSW (the rest of the domestic violence changes are reflected in the Act). REINSW Legal Counsel and the RTA Sub-Committee have held their first meeting to discuss the declaration form and its content, and REINSW will be lodging a Submission on the declaration form by 28 November 2018.

Stage 2

NSW Fair Trading are looking to implement stage 2 later next year. NSW Fair Trading have informed REINSW that formal consultation on the stage 2 reforms is not planned to occur until after March 2019.

In any case I’m assured that the REINSW will be keeping their members in the loop which I will then update here.

Thanks for following, Antonio

Update: 30/10/2018

Having attended an Information Session today held by the Real Estate Institute of NSW on the Residential Tenancies Act it appears changes are imminent.

What has arisen out of the reforms are definite changes, though alot of detail and “grey areas” are needing further clarification. The vast majority of these changes are not retrospective.

So what do we know for sure:

  • Changes to Break Lease Fee’s are set out to a one off fee dependant of the time period lapsed of a fixed term agreement
  • Changes to way in which Tenancies subject to circumstances of Domestic Violence are treated and finalised
  • Rent Increases in a Periodic Agreement limited to once in every calendar year
  • Landlords will be required to complete an information statement that confirms they are aware of their rights and obligations before a Tenancy Agreement is entered into
  • Smoke Alarm issues and repairs will be deemed an Urgent Repair
  • Landlords will have other obligations to meet as to Standards surrounding being fit for habitation an example being adequate power points in each room
  • Properties that are not separately metered for utilities incl. water can not have charges passed onto tenants; An example being that Granny flats and some duplexes will not be able to charge water usage to tenants where the meter isn’t read separately by the water board
  • A prescribed list will be drawn up to clear up what “reasonable” Alterations to a premises are, therefore allowing tenants to make set out alterations but permission must be sought in any case

So more to come on this as well and more changes as I’ve heard much discussion about reviews surrounding Rental Bonds and what will be some clarity around Mould and Responsibilities.

What I do look forward to, is a transition towards Real Estate becoming recognised as a Profession which is currently being lobbied. This could see the creation of a Real Estate specific commissioner overseeing the industry instead of Real Estate coming under the NSW Fair Trading umbrella. This set of Professional Standards is likely to come about in 2019 following on from reform and changes surrounding Real Estate Agent Licensing and changes to Continuing Professional Development which is being set out at the moment.

What will that mean, Real Estate Agents will have a much higher standard of training and licensing entry into Real Estate roles.

For the time being, all remains the same while the Residential Tenancy Acts’ new set of Regulations is drawn up.

Interesting times as always to be a Property Manager but also a Landlord or Tenant and not only is there much work to be done on these and further reforms, there is a great need for Education across the Property Management and more widely the Real Estate Sectors and this education must then be passed onto Landlords and Tenants who all have a vested interest in this space.

That’s what I plan to continue doing with both my blog and down the track newsletters, sharing valuable and relevant information. I also plan to do this one on one with my Owners and Tenants so that everyone knows where they stand and in turn add value to everyone’s experience with The Management Agency.

I appreciate you following these updates and am sure there will be much more to come!

With Thanks,
Antonio

 

Updated: 18/10/2018

Reforms Passed

Reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act have passed without amendment, according to the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales.

These major changes affect the real estate industry, landlords & tenants.

REINSW President Leanne Pilkington said the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018 has passed and REINSW is now commencing the first phase of educating the property management community.

“It is important for our profession to understand all of the changes that the new Bill includes. We will be conducting intensive Training Sessions in 17 locations across the state beginning in Sydney next Thursday 25 October and runinng to 29 November 2018.

“The second phase will follow the release of the Regulation, which are the guidelines that dictate how the act should be applied.

“REINSW with the support of the REINSW Property Management Chapter Committee and a dedicated Sub-Committee which formed in June 2015, worked tirelessly to specifically identify those areas in the current legislation requiring reform.”

Ms Pilkington said while many of our lobbying efforts have been adopted in whole or part by the Government, a lot have been ignored, such as the Government’s proposed changes to:

  • Alterations to property
  • Break fees
  • Domestic violence
  • Rent increases, and more.

The bill will now be sent to the Governor of NSW for his assent. A date for the reforms to be implemented is yet to be disclosed.

I will be attending an REINSW session covering the reforms in Late October so more details to come!

 

Original Post: 26/09/2018

The NSW Rental market is constantly changing and growing, more than 820,000 households live in a rental property and the demand continues to grow with more and more people renting and renting for a longer period of time.

Yes, we’re heavily governed by the Property Stock and Business Agents ACT (PSBA) and the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and we need to be considering how many people live in rented premises and rent out their properties.

Under section 227, the Residential Tenancies Act must be reviewed every 5 years to determine whether or not the objectives and terms remain valid and appropriate. This current review process started back in 2015 and is now finally being debated this week in NSW Parliament.

Much is being said in the media about what is and what isn’t up for discussion.

There seems to be some certain changes in regards to:

  • The ability for tenants to make minor alterations to properties.
  • The introduction of a new minimum standard for properties.
  • The ability for tenants to get rectification orders from Fair Trading for repairs.
  • Restricting rent increases for periodic leases to once a year.
  • The ability for victims of domestic violence to break a lease without incurring a penalty.

The biggest debate stems around “No Ground Termination Notices” and the large majority of people that want to see the ability for landlords to terminate on No Grounds gone all together.

Some years back the notice period was increased from 60 Days to 90 Days and tenants are allowed to leave at any time within the notice period without giving counter notice. That took some time to register with landlords but has always worked well, it’s given tenants ample time to find a new home and the flexibility to secure it.

It’s unfortunate that issuing a Termination notice is being viewed as retaliatory where in most cases the owner genuinely needs their property back, to live in, to renovate, to sell.

All in all, there are some good changes that will help our many tenants make themselves at home and give them some certainty.

It does appear that Owners’ will be left with less certainty if tenant’s will able to break their leases with smaller penalties leaving them open to vacancy, re letting costs etc. No one seems to be all that sympathetic though.

It doesn’t seem that any changes will occur to No Grounds Notices at this Review, but who knows, the next review is only two years away!

All I know is that as an owner or tenant if you can’t keep up with all of this, you’ll soon find out how valuable your agent is because it’s on us to know! I’m waiting for the final bill to pass and will then get reading 😊

Here’s a comprehensive list of what the reforms include:

Under the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018, the government’s proposed changes to rental reforms in NSW include:

  • If the property is in a strata scheme, the landlord or landlord’s agent needs to pass on a copy of the by-laws before the tenant enters into a residential tenancy agreement.
  • The creation of an offense for a landlord or landlord’s agent if they pass on a completed condition report to the tenant after the signing of the residential tenancy agreement, with a maximum penalty of $2,200.
  • The creation of an offence for a landlord or landlord’s agent if they do not sign an acknowledgement on a residential tenancy agreement, or if a landlord’s agent fails to sign the acknowledgement of the residential tenancy agreement without a statement from the landlord in writing that the landlord has read and understood a rights and obligations information statement.
  • If rent is paid via cheque, receipts are allowed to be sent to the email address of the tenant.
  • Requirements for rent increases do not apply to fixed terms less than two years that specify when, and the amount by, the rent is increased.
  • Rents paid in a periodic agreement are not allowed to be raised more than once a year.
  • New minimum standards for properties have been introduced, which include:
    • basic access to electricity and gas;
    • structurally sound buildings;
    • adequate natural or artificial lighting as well as ventilation; and
    • adequate outlets for lighting, heating and appliances.
  • Liability for damage to properties caused by someone else is not imposed on a tenant, or co-tenant, if a domestic violence offence is involved with the co-tenant.
  • Landlords can have access to premises without the tenant’s consent to take photos or visual recordings of the interior to advertise the property for sale once in a 28-day period, as long as reasonable notice is given and must not include tenants’ possessions in photos or footage.
  • Only landlords can carry out repairs to smoke alarms, with the exception of certain kinds of smoke alarms, with a maximum penalty of $2,200 for failing to repair.
  • In matters involving a Tribunal about repairs, more consideration is given to time frames and reasonable diligence.
  • Tenants who require urgent repairs can get rectification orders from Fair Trading.
  • Landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse minor alterations, such as picture hooks.
  • The termination of an employee or caretaker residential tenancy agreement cannot be earlier than 28 days after the notice to terminate was given.
  • The termination of other fixed-term tenancies must be on or after the end of the fixed term and no earlier than 30 days after the notice to terminate was given.
  • The termination of periodic tenancies must be no earlier than 90 days after the day the notice was given.
  • Landlords cannot give a termination notice to a tenant solely because of their failure to pay rent, water, electricity, gas or oil charges unless the charge has not been paid for at least 14 days.
  • In matters involving a Tribunal about the termination of a tenancy due to unpaid water charges, the termination is only valid if the landlord has requested payment from the tenant within three months of the bill’s issue.
  • Tenants may give a termination notice if they enter into an agreement by misleading statements that are proven to be concealing certain facts.
  • Tenants may give a termination notice if the property is included on the loose-fill asbestos insulation register during or before the commencement of the tenancy without informing the tenant.
  • Te/ants or co-tenants can give a domestic violence termination notice without any penalty if they are a victim of domestic violence, which is defined as:
    • The tenant or co-tenant being a victim of a domestic violence offence where the offender was declared guilty during the tenancy.
    • The tenant or co-tenant has the protection of an active DVO.
    • The tenant or co-tenant is protected against family violence by a domestic violence offender.
    • The tenant or co-tenant has been declared by a competent person to be a victim of domestic violence.
  • The break fee for fixed-term agreements less than or equal to three years is dependent on the percentage of how much of the fixed term has expired:
    • less than 25 per cent: 4 week’s rent;
    • 25 per cent to less than 50 per cent: 3 week’s rent;
    • 50 per cent to less than 75 per cent: 2 week’s rent; or
    • 75 per cent to 100 per cent: 1 week’s rent;
  • The creation of an offence for when a landlord or a landlord’s agent lists a tenant or co-tenant’s personal information in a residential tenancy database if the tenant or co-tenant terminated a tenancy due to domestic violence, with a maximum penalty of $2,200.
  • The creation of an offence for database operators to charge fees for giving copies of personal information in a residential tenancy database to that person.