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Repairs, Maintenance & Fair Wear & Tear

16 September 2020

Taking care & looking after a rental property is a shared responsibility between tenants, landlords, and the Property Manager if managed by a Real Estate Agency.

The landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property is fit to live in and that repairs and maintenance are completed so that the property is in a reasonable state of repair. The tenant is responsible for keeping the property reasonably clean and undamaged and leave it in the same condition it was in when they moved in (fair wear and tear excepted). If the property is managed through a Real Estate Agency, then the Property Manager will act on behalf of the Landlord and will ensure that the property is fit to live in and is the go-to person, for the tenant to report any repairs or maintenance issues that arise during the tenancy.

What happens when maintenance and repairs are needed?

A tenant should contact their Property Manager or Landlord (if not managed by an Agency) as soon as possible and report the maintenance and/or repairs that are needed.

The Property Manager will need to identify how the maintenance and/or repair came to light. Was it due to damage caused by the tenant or just wear and tear?

If it was damaged caused by the tenant, then the tenant will be responsible for the reasonable cost of repairing, restoration and/or replacement to rectify the damage, however, if it is wear and tear, then the landlord will bear the costs.

What is ‘fair wear & tear’?

Fair wear and tear, is a term for damage that either naturally or inevitably occurs as a result of normal use and/or ageing. Another way to look at it is, fair wear and tear is damage that occurs even when an item is used competently and with care and proper maintenance. This covers property fixtures and items that deteriorate over time due to daily use and/or ageing.

Some of these are:

  • Worn kitchen benchtops
  • Worn handles or hinges
  • Scuffed flooring on the carpet on high traffic foot areas

On the other hand, it is not, wear and tear when the damage to the property is due to an accident, negligence, or even malicious.

Some of these are:

  • Burns on kitchen benchtops
  • Holes in the walls
  • Stains or burn marks on the carpet

As an example, carpet has an expected lifespan of 10 years, and therefore wear and tear consistent with its lifespan is expected, so daily walking on the carpet will result in wear and tear.

However, excessive staining, like from a spilled glass of red wine would not be considered ‘fair wear and tear’.

Somethings aren’t always as clear cut, so your Property Manager will need to apply some common sense and ask the right questions in order to make an informed decision on whether or not the damage is ‘fair wear and tear’.

Saying that fair wear and tear is not always something that requires repair, but simply needs to be taken into account based on the age and economical life of a fixture or fitting. Fair wear and tear always has to be a consideration, for example, at a final inspection at the end of a tenancy.

‘Fair wear and tear’ forms part of a Lease Agreement

The NSW, Residential Tenancy Agreement (Lease Agreement) and the NSW, Tenant Information Statement both reference the term ‘fair wear and tear’. Fair wear and tear is the responsibility of the landlord, and tenants are not responsible for paying for ‘fair wear and tear’, however, tenants need to be aware that it is there obligation to leave the residential premises as nearly as possible in the same condition, fair wear and tear excepted, as at the commencement of the tenancy.

There is though, excessive wear and tear, which takes into account, how long tenants have resided in the property or how long it’s been since things like repainting or flooring have taken place.

Excessive wear and tear, is wear from use that isn’t normal and that can come from a lack of overall care taken or just too many people residing in a property, above what has been agreed, as noted on your Lease Agreement.

Tenants need to be mindful that the cost of repairs, or the restoration of, the premises or goods leased with the premises if it is a result of damage caused by the tenant, other than ‘fair wear and tear’, may be deducted from the bond.

Landlords, what you need is a Property Manager that knows the difference and can step in accordingly, and tenants, you need a Property Manager that’s willing to take the time to Inspect the property and explain what’s what.

Antonio Mesiti is the Principal & Property Manager at The Management Agency, a local Property Management specialist offering a one on one and end to end service for his Property Investor clients. For more information visit; https://themanagementagency.com.au/about/

Landlords, Tenants, Property Managers & COVID-19

What else could my Blog be about right now.

I was going to post about depreciation & had a few other topics I wanted to put out but as you all know; life is on pause right about now.

These weeks have been tough.

Property Managers everywhere are struggling to get through the mass of information and ideas on how to manage this crisis.

I realise, first and foremost that this is a Health Crisis and I’m yet to come across anyone that doesn’t agree with the Stage 3 lockdowns and overall need to #stayhome.

But what about the tenants that are staying at home but are worried that they can’t pay for their home. Yes, they’re struggling and I hear their stress and sympathise with them. Let’s also not forget that landlords have also lost work and like everyone, the bills keep coming in.

We need to find some happy mediums, even if these aren’t necessarily happy outcomes, but outcomes that everyone can live with.

So, I’m giving some tips to all on how we can ALL get through this. It may be obvious and it may be common sense but here goes;

Tenants

  • Look into what assistance is available; there are ample links and fact sheets available. Get them from trusted sources i.e. Government websites
  • Rest easy, there is a moratorium on evictions but, it’s been made clear, that doesn’t mean rent won’t accrue a debt if you don’t pay and also don’t approach your Property Manager or Landlord. If you can’t pay the full rent, pay what you can to keep any balances of rent owing low. Reach out for help!
  • Property Managers are trying to help where we can to negotiate good outcomes, we’re still waiting on further advice and information from the Government though. It is coming!
  • Speak to your Landlord or Property Manager, let us know your situation so that we can get back to you as soon as we know more

Landlords

  • If you don’t have landlord’s insurance by now, it may be too late with most providers having already cut off new policies
  • Speak to your agent and let them know your financial position, so that we have the complete picture
  • Our recommendations, as Property Managers, are just that. You will have the final say in any negotiations but you need to be open to them and compromise where possible
  • If your Property is for Lease or Vacant, it is time to align to the current rental market ASAP. Tenants are still out there looking. People are downsizing, economising and looking for the perfect Isolation pad.

 

And finally, to my fellow Property Managers. We’re having a tough time, seriously. Long hours, countless calls / emails and counselling sessions.

All the while we are taking a slight battering by the media and I’ve also been hearing of many pay cuts, cuts to working hours and layoffs in our industry.

 

Property Managers

  • Listen & be compassionate to all
  • Follow trusted sources and keep up to date & informed. Things are changing rapidly, almost hourly
  • Don’t be hasty and make rushed decisions; National Cabinet updates are coming
  • Follow your regular procedures until we know more
  • If you haven’t heard, don’t give anyone Financial Advice
  • Take serious precautions when you do have to go to properties, i.e. Physical distancing, masks, sanitizer & gloves
  • Adjust, adapt & Innovate as the way we do Property Management will be changed forever
  • Now is the time to go out of your way to help our landlords, tenants and tradespeople – Go the extra mile. How we perform during difficult times can cement and build long term relationships

Shoutout

A Huge Thank you needs to go out to the REINSW, REIA, Tom Panos, Jemmeson Fischer, Leanne Pilkington and the team at Novak Properties for the regular informative updates and webinars you are running constantly. You’ll all be remembered for your efforts during this time.

I greatly appreciate you all taking the time to generously share knowledge, your insights and practical advice simply to just help others and ensure we are all doing the right thing.

Keep your head up everyone, we’ll get through this.

Antonio

NSW Rental Reforms & Renewing Leases

5/3/2020

As a Property Manager, we spend a lot of time negotiating Lease Renewals as tenants’ leases come up to expire. My opinion is that it is ideal for both owners and tenants to have the security of having a lease in place.

With the recent NSW changes to Residential Tenancy Laws, I’m already seeing landlords reconsidering this and opting to have their tenants remaining on continuing agreements.

This is largely because of the changes relating to the costs incurred by tenants when they need to Break their Lease.

These changes are likely to see increased instances of vacancy periods and therefore loss of rent where the current lease arrangements provided landlords with much more security. For a landlord, being told that their property is vacant with little “compensation” being the Break fee, leaves them open to unpredictable and unforeseen vacancy periods.

“The question now, is it worth renewing a Lease, when they’re so easy for a tenant to break?”

Whilst a fixed-term lease provides tenants and landlords a period of security, with new legislation coming in on 23/3/2020, it’ll be easier for these leases to be broken by tenants so we might see more and more tenants leaving before the Lease expires simply because it’s more affordable to do so.

 

Close to a Lease expiring your options are to either;

  • Not renew a Lease and have continuing agreement where tenants provide you with 3 weeks’ notice to vacate at any point

Or

  • Renew a Lease where tenants can break the agreement by paying a set break fee as outlined below

New mandatory set break fees for fixed-term agreements

Mandatory set fees when a tenant breaks a fixed-term agreement early will apply to all new fixed-term agreements that are 3 years or less. This applies to agreements that are entered into from 23 March 2020 onwards.

The break fees are:

  • 4 weeks rent if less than 25% of the lease had expired
  • 3 weeks rent if 25% or more but less than 50% of the lease had expired
  • 2 weeks rent if 50% or more but less than 75% of the lease had expired
  • 1 week’s rent if 75% or more of the lease had expired.

Using the example of a 12-month tenancy agreement, a tenant would only be required to provide two weeks’ rent to their landlord (that is, an amount equal to two week’s rent) to end their agreement early, if seven months (or 58%) of the agreement had expired.


I’ll be speaking to my clients on a case by case basis as Leases come up for renewal throughout 2020 but already, I am hearing “What’s the point of a Lease”.

The consensus is that at least getting 3 weeks’ notice on a continuing agreement gives you more lead time to advertise and show the property to secure new tenants, it’s all about minimising vacancy here.

As a Property Manager, it’s my job to maximise my landlords investments, and where leases are renewed at a cost to landlords it might not be the best investment to all clients when you consider a lease can be broken in the last 3 months and all the owner will receive is 1 weeks rent as the set break fee.

While there are many other changes to legislation coming in, which I’ve covered in my posts, I feel this change will have the greatest impact on both landlords and tenants.

Landlords face uncertainty in terms of the higher probability of lost income and Tenants face not having the offer or opportunity to renew their lease and get some long-term security in their homes.

My opinion is that there are no real winners here, unfortunately.

While it may sound advantageous to tenants being able to more affordably break their lease and move, long term investors may simply be turned off investing and may simply not offer the tenants that want to secure longer leases, the option.

As an investor, will I be renewing my tenant’s leases? Probably not, unless I’ve got tenants that really demand it and where I feel they’ll give me the courtesy of some notice of their vacating rather than none.

“What’s crucial here, is keeping good working relationships with tenants. Relationships where tenants will communicate any changes in circumstances to their Property Manager. So that we will get the heads up and some notice, even though the tenant doesn’t technically have to provide it.”

As Property Managers, it’ll be in our, and our client’s best interests that we keep our eyes and ears open and are attentive to our tenant’s movements and their circumstances.

Antonio @ The Management Agency

Changes to Residential Tenancy Laws – Read here for Updates

25/03/2020

Amidst the current Corona Virus climate, we’re adapting to the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Whilst some of the new regulations surrounding Agents licensing won’t be enforced for a grace period of 6 Months, most agencies have already implemented new procedures surrounding their tenancies being compliant.

What are we hearing so far:

  • Owners not particularly liking tenants having their contact details, privacy concerns and the reasons why they have enlisted a Property Manager
  • Less emphasis on wanting fixed term leases, a lose lose for all maybe

The positive:

  • Tenants can sign electronic leases without needing a witness, a streamlined process for all

We’ll all adapt and innovate, as we must in these times.

Stay safe, Antonio


The latest release of up to date information issued by the Office of Fair Trading can be found here.

More information to follow here below as it comes to hand.

Antonio @ The Management Agency


9/3/2020

Further information is coming to light with regards to the changes coming into place on 23/3/2020 with many Property Managers hopeful we’ll have the complete outlook within the coming weeks, especially when it comes to the time frames in which all of the changes need to be in place, where some of these are immediate and others won’t be.

Here are some points I’ve been reading about;

  • New Leases from 23/3/2020 will need to list one of the Landlords points of contacts, whether it be an email address or phone number, this is set to be a requirement and a non-negotiable.
  • All Landlords will need to read and sign a “Landlord Information Statement” this will ensure that all landlords are aware of all of their responsibilities when a Lease is entered into, we are yet to get our hands on a copy of the prescribed form.
  • Similar to Smoke Alarms, properties will need to be tested and certified for Water Efficiency at the beginning of tenancies where Water Usage is being charged and recouped from tenants.

More to come as we approach the commencement date of these reforms,

Antonio @ The Management Agency

Read more

Tenants’ Rights & Responsibilities

17/9/19

You have a lease, right? Well all of your rights and responsibilities are listed there but countless times I’ve signed up new leases and tenants just want to sign and get their keys.

I get it, you’re about to embark on several painful hours of moving and unpacking.

This can mean some nasty surprises along the way, such as water usage bills and the cost of breaking a lease. So, any Property Manager would highlight to a new tenant what they have to know and must read, but I’m going to try to simplify and outline what your BASIC rights and responsibilities are here. You still need to read your lease though and before signing it.

  • Paying Rent

Not one to play around with, this responsibility stands regardless of any issues being unaddressed.

There are other avenues to have any complaints heard and addressed but not paying rent leaves you vulnerable to having your tenancy terminated.

  • Breaking your Lease

Circumstances change and so is the legislation surrounding this, there are a couple of options for breaking leases within the agreement so know which one you are agreeing too before signing as that will apply despite pending legislation changes. Just know what you’re up for if you do need to move before the Fixed Term of your Lease expires.

  • A Right to Quiet Enjoyment of the Premises

Noise complaints, unapproved access to your home and other instances where you’re being disturbed are well documented and covered within your lease agreement. You have a right to enjoy the property peacefully and quietly. Access to the property should be approved by you in most instances.

Neighbours have the same right so you in turn must insure you’re not impeding on anyone’s else’s rights.

  •   A Property that is in a good state of repair

Repairs and maintenance, especially of an urgent nature, need to be acknowledged and attended to within reasonable time frames. These timeframes are well documented within your lease.

Make sure you report any issues in writing to your agent or owner so it’s well documented. Reporting repairs and issues also protects you as having fulfilled your obligation to notify your agent or owner so that they can then make arrangements. Get to know what’s classed as urgent and what isn’t and ensure you’re provided with contacts of preferred Emergency tradespeople.

  • Specific Building By-Laws

Each building has its own set of By-Laws and you need to be provided with these at the time of signing the lease so you know what to comply with.

  • A Condition Report

You must be provided with an In-going Condition Report at the time of your Lease Commencing, not after it’s commenced. This report should list the areas within the property and list the condition of fixtures within that area.

If you don’t complete a copy of the report within 7 days of your lease commencing, agree or disagree and make additional comments than the original report handed to you will be taken as being agreed to.

“Completing and submitting this report within the 7 days is the first thing you can do to ensure you get your bond back at the end of your tenancy.”

  • Complaint Handling & Resolution

Every tenant has a right to have their complaints acknowledged and addressed, you can go straight to the Principal of any agency with your complaints, lodge a complaint with the office of fair trading who will investigate the issue, there are tenancy advocacy services as well as lodging an application to the tribunal for a hearing of your matter.

First up though, speak to the agent or owner about your issue and document it, if all else fails you have other avenues.

  • Renewing a Lease

When your lease is coming up to expire, ideally, you’ll be offered a new lease, if not then reach out and request a new lease if it’s your preference to have some ongoing certainty. Neither party is obligated to renew the lease but that doesn’t mean you need to vacate and can stay on indefinitely.

So in summary:

  •  Always pay rent on time
  • Breaking your lease, Read your lease and stay tuned for legislation changes
  • You have a right to peace and enjoyment of the premises, and you need to allow that of others as well
  • Property should be in a good state of repair, the onus is on you to report issues as they arise
  • Get to know your building By-Laws if you’re in a Strata Plan (Apartment complexes)
  • There are several avenues to get your complaints, issues heard or advice
  • Ask about renewing your lease even if it hasn’t been offered if you want the certainty

Lastly, you deserve (and have a right to) a reasonably responsive and courteous service so don’t settle for less.

If you need advice feel free to reach out, if for some reason I can’t answer your query then I can point you in the right direction.

Thanks for reading and if you have some left over downtime? Read your Lease ?

Antonio

A Landlords Rights & Responsibilities – the brief run down

25/7/19

At some stage in the near future it will be a requirement that all landlords read and sign a disclosure that they have read and understood their rights and responsibilities – BEFORE – a lease can be signed but ahead of that I’m going to outline some of these as briefly as I can keep it.

I would be confident in saying that the majority of landlords would be well aware of their responsibilities and even their rights as a landlord and where I’ve come across that don’t, I feel it’s a Property Managers duty to educate and inform their landlords along the way. This ensures landlords are not unknowingly breaching their responsibilities as well as protecting their rights.

I think it comes down to a Property Manager looking after their clients Best Interests which in turn also ensures the property and its tenants are looked after as well.

TIP: Ask for a copy of a Blank Lease Template and you’ll be able to read everything that you’re technically agreeing to as a landlord.

So, I’ll keep this post really simple and lay out what an owner should / needs to be doing to look out for themselves first and fore most and for any tenants reading, this applies and assess who’s looking out for you!

  • Be Selective with your Property Manager, do not base a final decision purely on fees. You get what you pay for- always. You need to pick someone that’s efficient and communicative.
  • Present your property in the best way you possibly can to attract the best possible tenants
  • When selecting a tenant, you can choose the best applicant for your property, but you cannot discriminate purely religion or race.
  • Each and every repair is your responsibility (aside from standard light globes) try and have all repairs up to date before tenants move in.
  • Leases can be for 6 or 12 months, longer leases can be negotiated though
  • Landlord Insurance is highly recommended, with a bond consisting of 4 weeks rent it’ll do little to cover your financial losses in many possible scenarios
  • All repairs should be action as soon as possible with express requirements of Urgent Repairs. In any case, all should be acknowledged and tenants informed along the way. Your agent should be given your instructions on how to act should they not be able to contact you.
  • Smoke Alarms should be checked annually, an owner’s responsibility, all agents will recommend outsourcing this for a small annual fee. Invaluable for peace of mind!
  • Pets are more common than not these days so be open to the possibility; many apartment buildings have an approval process in place but you have the ultimate say. Give Pets consideration in order to open up your property to so many more prospective tenants
  • Your agent will do periodic inspections of the property, you should think of these as monitoring the condition of the property and how it is being maintained. These inspections are not necessarily to check the tenants living habits unless they are damaging or causing excess wear and tear.

Landlords, It’s not always fun. I called an owner the other day and had to promise her next time I called her I’d give her good news because it’s been challenge after challenge of late. So I called her and gave her my own personal good news, my wins for that week.

I get it, sometimes we just need to hear something positive and not just be thrown issue after issue.

And that’s what you have to do, roll with the punches. It’s not always satisfying to have tenants because of the rental income. The income goes straight away to mortgages, rates and bills, but having a happy tenant and a smooth-running tenancy can be very satisfying for many landlords.

You don’t always reach that point where all parties are consistently happy but if everyone is meeting their end of the agreement then that, is the bare minimum we should always all expect.

If you have any questions about this Post or anything else Property Management reach out to find out more about my services or simply if you just need to know where you stand!

Curious to see a copy of a Draft Lease, Email me and i’ll flick one straight back at you.

Antonio

Setting up, Styling & Settling into your new home

12/6/2019

When you’re looking for a new home it’s likely you will see a property while either an owner is residing there or the tenants that are set to soon vacate so you’ll get a rough idea of spacing and configuration.

Sometimes you’ll see a bare vacant property that for some can be hard to imagine or get your head around configuring it, and many prospective tenants are turned off easily when they just can’t see the potential.

But if Italians can make homes by carving into the calcareous rock (see pic by me taken today) in Matera, then you can make a home too!

Every property has potential to become a home and have seen many stunning transformations from bare and boring to homely and stylish.

For the most part a rental property is what it is so be sure to be generally happy with the flooring materials, light fittings and window coverings.

TIP: For whatever approvals are given through verbally, back that up with an email to confirm the conversation.

So after the physical move get the stylish & homely vibes you’re looking for;

  • Unpack

Start unpacking by focusing on the bedroom and bathroom so that somewhat of a normal routine can start up straight away and then onto the kitchen and living areas.

Whilst art, pictures and personal items aren’t priority do start unpacking and laying pictures around the house to get an idea of where they work best.

  • Lighting

For the most part lights are what they are, and what’s provided but bare bulbs can be easily shaded with essentially cheap and easily installed coverings

Floor Lamps, Table lamps, bench lamps- go crazy and set a mood with your lighting. Add floor lamps to dim and barren corners, table lamps on a kitchen bench or hallway console table.

  • Flooring

Rugs and Runners can cover anything so you can sometimes see past what’s there, saying that a lot of tenants specifically don’t want or can’t live with carpet whereas others love it.

  • Furniture

Few people, owners or tenants, are going to go and replace all of their furniture just because they’re moving into a new property so importantly- take a tape measure to viewings and check things like your Fridge space, washing machine space and Lounge to see if these will fit.

  • Walls & Art

While most rental properties should stick to a neutral color scheme, some don’t and orange or green walls will not be to everyone’s taste. If it’s a deal breaker you can apply on the basis that specific areas are painted or request permission to DIY once you move in.

  • Windows

Outdated or simply ugly blinds can be easily replaced with ready to hang blinds or curtains if you really want to update these. Just be sure to store what was there for when you do hand the property back. Some Ikea or Freedom curtains can work wonders.

TIP:

If in doubt you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your property manager to see what’s allowed and what isn’t and they should be able to assist so ask questions without reservation.

Properties are otherwise offered “as is” so what you see is what you’ll get if you don’t ask beforehand.

Welcome Home!
Antonio

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 Case Study:

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.

LASTLY: There are several insurers that will only consider a policy as valid if there is a Fixed Term Tenancy in place. So if your tenants were on a continuing agreement you might be paying for a policy that will not pay you out because of this technicality. In this day and age where renting provides all with some flexibility these policies, in my opinion, don’t suit anyone and do not work for anyone. It’s unrealistic so I would highly recommend checking your Insurers policy on this point.

Hope this has been of some help! Phew, there’s a lot I know!

Antonio

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”

Mould Removal Australia has kindly compiled a Fact Sheet on the prevention and treatment of mould, if you’d like a copy just send through an enquiry and i’ll send it over to you.

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!

Oh & the Pic is actually Marble because… ewww Mould.

Antonio 🙂

10 Tenant FAQ – Answered

26/10/2018

It’s unfortunate but many tenants know first hand that not all agents are approachable, so here are my 10 Questions that a Tenant may have answered.

I really could’ve come up with 50 of these so will continue on these if they’re what you want to read, let me know!

As tenants have come and gone through properties I’ve managed and off to other agencies or to become property owners, I always like to leave off telling a tenant that if they need any advice they can always call – a free service that I offer – and many call on that. So if there’s anything you need to or want to know, reach out and i’ll do my best 🙂

  1. How can I secure a Property with a Pet?

Always ask if a property is Pet Friendly or if they’re considered, a lot of owners are coming around to the fact that tenants come with Pets. Include Photos of your Pet and references if you have them with your application, if you’re moving down the track really try to get a reference from the agent for your Pet in writing in case needed later on. As long as you do the right thing and follow any special conditions you’ll be fine.

 

  1. How do you choose which applicant to approve for a property?

A Property owner makes the final decision on whom they accept for their property based on the information provided and the references received. In most cases Agents can make recommendations but not the final decision. I find owners look at suitability based on what the tenant is looking for as well, some of these factors can be;

-Short Term VS Long Term

-Confidence in ability to pay the rent

-Positive references from previous rental agents or landlords

 

  1. What should I know before I enter into a Lease?

You should always read a lease, back to front, before signing request a copy, even if it’s just the blank document and any Special conditions so you can prepare any questions ahead.

Basically, be aware of your rights and responsibilities while at the same time you’re getting educated as to the owners’ responsibilities as well, it goes both ways.

Know what else you’re paying for, Water Usage etc. Make sure you’re issued with the office of Fair Trading’s New Tenant Checklist and ask any questions before signing!

Another important factor, unless expressly put in writing, you’re taking the property “as is”.

 

  1. I’ve signed a Lease, what happens next?

Something I always push for is that tenants complete their part of the condition report and return it to the Agent within 7 days of the Lease commencing, if not the agents copy of the report without your amendments or additions is taken as accepted and will be used at the final inspection when you move down the track.

Report any repairs and maintenance in writing and be sure to connect utilities in your name.

 

  1. Is there anything I need to do ahead of a Routine Inspection?

Not necessarily, a quick tidy and clean does the trick but importantly highlight any issues to your agent (or owner) before hand so they can look at these on the day and report them appropriately.

Being home is preferred if you can really so you get a chance to highlight any concerns to be noted at this time.

 

  1. I have an issue, what do I do?

Communicate! Put any repairs or concerns in writing, email will suffice, and speak to your agent or owner. If you’re going to be late with rent, your living situation has changed or something is bothering you.

 

  1. How often should rent be paid and how do I know where I am up to?

As long as it’s on time then the frequency should not matter, always allow additional days for Electronic Transfers and if sharing you’re best off to pay your rent in one consolidated payment. Keep records or ask the agent for a ledger or receipts.

Most agents offer online access to your rental account, showing receipts, payment due dates etc.

 

  1. What’s an Urgent Repair and what isn’t?

Your lease lists these as a breakdown or failure of any essential service is an Urgent Repair.

So, No Water, Hot Water, Cooking facilities, Power or an unsecure premise is urgent. Your agent should have provided you instructions at your lease’s commencement but if not, the law is quite clear cut here. Urgent repairs can’t be delayed unnecessarily and you can go ahead and arrange them if it’s out of hours as long as it’s reasonable and could not wait.

 

  1. My Lease is coming up to expire, what’s the process?

Discuss the process with your agent but also put it in writing whether you’d like to resign or will be vacating. Notice periods change once the lease has expired so be aware of timing and communicate any decisions or requests. In most cases Agents will review with a view to request a new lease ahead of the lease expiring.

 

  1. How do I finalise my tenancy once I’ve moved?

After having given notice you should have been issued with some clear instructions on finalising rent to your vacate date and how to go about arranging a final inspection. Follow the agents process and try to be present at the final inspection if you can. Make sure you give the agent your new address and bank account details for the bond refund. If in doubt about any of the process, ask questions, moving is stressful enough without hitting any additional hurdles!

Up next I’m thinking a Q&A with me, so will need an interviewer! If there’s anything else you want to see here I’m open to suggestions!

Antonio 🙂