Choosing a Property Manager
When it comes to choosing a property manager, often the easiest place to start looking is with friends and family. Ask people you know who have bought, sold and leased property for their suggestions and comments about local agents. For a lot of people, the ‘bottom line’ when appointing an agent to represent you is always the agent’s estimate of the property’s rental value. Keep in mind that it is important that this figure be realistic and achievable in the particular market. This is not the only fact to consider; we believe there’s more to making your selection. At Harcourts Langwarrin, our property managers will provide you with relevant and accurate information and make recommendations about all issues that should be considered when leasing a property. The role of the individual agent is critical: while you are in fact looking to engage a company to let your home, you must feel confident and comfortable about working with this person throughout the leasing process.
The Harcourts Advantage
The experienced team of professionals at Harcourts Langwarrin are selected carefully for their skills, knowledge and ongoing desire to provide a client service second to none. With nearly 20 years combined experience in Real Estate, the Harcourts Langwarrin Property Management team delivers outstanding results for their landlords and tenants. Organised, efficient and friendly, our Property Management team provides excellent service in all property management fields.
Specialising in the appraisal, marketing and leasing of investment properties, our staff members have attended the Australian Real Estate Conference and the Australasian Residential Property Management Conference in order to learn more about the industry and to improve our service standards. With two full-time (and one part-time) property managers, your property is always cared for. We are able to handle maintenance and queries for our rentals 7 days a week.
Deciding on the best agent to manage your property is vital. If you choose Harcourts Langwarrin, you will be selecting a team dedicated to the welfare of your investment.
Leasing your property
We do not hand out keys to prospective tenants; all inspections are by appointment only. We always conduct an entry condition report, allowing us to know exactly what the condition of your property was at the start of the tenancy. Selecting a suitable tenant to occupy your property is the most important step in the rental procedure. It is better to have a property vacant than to enter into a tenancy agreement with a tenant who does not meet our stringent criteria of suitability. There are many advantages in having Harcourts Langwarrin find a tenant for you:
- We have a large number of prospective tenants pass through our doors every week.
- Listing of the property on key websites.
- Your property is placed on a regularly updated rental list.
- The use of nationwide tenant checks.
- The use of a professional service to get the best tenants.
Our rental applications require several checks on tenants, including an Australia wide rental checking databases, only available to agents. These checks assist us in locating the most suitable tenant by eliminating tenants who have defaulted in the past.
Once a tenant has been selected, we prepare the paperwork. Every document a tenant completes provides the landlord with added security and ensures the tenants are fully aware of their responsibilities. We must meet a number of legal obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, and so must your tenants. Most of these are detailed in the lease agreement. All parties involved keep a copy of the original lease; the tenant, landlord and the property managers. This binds the parties to the agreement for a specified period and sometimes beyond the term of the lease.
The Act ensures that both parties have their interests protected in regards to the condition of the property. We complete a condition report (both written and digital) detailing the condition of the property upon entry, and the tenants also add comments to this. This report can be used as evidence should any dispute arise regarding the condition of the property.
The bond is a security payment paid by the tenants and held by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) until the tenancy comes to an end. This is usually equal to one month's rent, and is used to secure the property and lease agreement. If warranted, the landlord may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to claim all or part of the bond.
Maintaining your investment
Quality Maintenance Service
At Harcourts Langwarrin we believe all maintenance issues should be dealt with immediately in order to maintain your valuable asset and prevent further costly maintenance issues. We will always endeavour to contact you regarding maintenance issues. Internal inspections are also used to identify maintenance issues early, before they become costly repairs. By identifying these problems during these inspections, we can often have the matter attended to before the problem worsens.
We take the utmost care when choosing tradespeople to carry out repairs on your property. Harcourts Langwarrin has compiled a register of quality tradespeople, who provide prompt service at competitive prices. All tradespeople are required to have insurance.
24 hour Contact
The property manager acting on behalf of the landlord must provide the tenant with full agent contact details, and we are available in the case of emergencies 24 hours a day. The landlord agrees in writing when completing the management authority to the terms under which the property manager is able to deal with urgent repairs without obtaining the landlord’s authority; however, we always endeavour to contact the landlord prior to making arrangements. The Act is very clear about what constitutes urgent repairs.
Inspections & Entering the Property
Regular inspections of your property are vital to ensuring that the tenants are taking care of the property and to determine that there are no maintenance issues going unnoticed that may result in costly repairs. The landlord, property manager and tenant all have rights and responsibilities with regard to entering the property. When a time is agreed upon, the tenant must oblige. In some circumstances, only 24 hours written notice is required. At Harcourts Langwarrin we conduct internal inspections after the first three months of the tenancy, then every six months. The inspection report that we complete is a comprehensive report which we hold on file here and we then write to you advising of the outcome of the inspection. Another benefit of conducting regular inspections is that during the inspection we evaluate the rental figure. We compare the property to similar properties we have successfully leased over the past few weeks and current market conditions to ensure you are receiving the best return possible on your valuable investment.
Ending a tenancy
When tenants decide to move…
When a tenant informs our office that they will be vacating, we take immediate action to re-let the property. We advertise the property on up to 6 internet sites and on the rental list in our office. When possible, we will arrange an open for inspection for the property.
Specific minimum notice is required from both landlords and tenants wishing to end the tenancy, depending on the circumstances of the termination. Your property manager is able to give expert advice regarding this.The Final Inspection
Once the tenant has vacated the property and returned the keys to our office, we conduct a final inspection to assess the condition of the property. Using the original condition report as a reference, the property manager and landlord must be satisfied the property has been left in a similar state to that when let.Retrieving the bond
If both the landlord (Agent) and the tenant agree on distribution of funds from the bond, then they both sign the Bond Claim form. The landlord, through their Property Manager, may claim compensation for damage caused by tenants or their visitors, professional cleaning if the property is not left suitably clean, loss of goods and unpaid rent. The landlord may not claim costs due to fair wear and tear. Any dispute is advised to be resolved through the property manager, who is skilled in negotiation and dispute resolution, before involving external authorities. If no agreement is reached an application can be made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on your behalf.Goods abandoned by the tenants
In the scenario that tenants leave behind some of their belongings, there is a strict procedure to follow that is set out in law. In general, every attempt must be made to return these goods to the tenant within the stipulated time frames, and they may not be held in lieu of unpaid rent or compensation. Your property manager will be able to manage this process and provide advice.
What leases well?
The characteristics of a great rental property vary greatly from those of a property that you may buy to live in yourself. The greater the quality and appeal of a property, the higher the rent achievable for it. Tenants also treat these properties with greater respect.
Features of a great rental property:
- Low maintenance yards and gardens
- Great location
- Updated or new kitchen and bathroom
- Adequate garaging and/or shedding
- Immaculate presentation
- Security shutters and doors
- Air conditioning, if the house heats up in warm weather
- Adequate heating for all rooms
Presenting your property for better tenants
Why can two properties that seem almost the same on paper, lease for vastly different prices? Quite often it simply comes down to a matter of presentation. As owners, we become so familiar with detracting elements in our property, such as pet odour or a particular furniture arrangement, that we overlook their impact on a tenant inspecting it for the first time.
See your property through a tenant’s eyes
Stand in the street outside your property & try to imagine seeing it for the first time – as though you were a potential tenant. Most tenants will see your property for the first time from that same vantage point as they drive or walk past. Remember – first impressions last. The best tenants are attracted by quality, and these are the tenants that we want for your investment.
Creating Space, Atmosphere & Ambience
It is very important to make each room appear as spacious as possible; often we accumulate possessions which tend to give the property a cluttered appearance & make it look less spacious. Remove unnecessary items to accentuate the spaciousness, without leaving the rooms looking sparse. Opening the curtains & blinds to allow as much natural light as possible will brighten up the property & again help accentuate the feeling of spaciousness. Each property in the rental market is in competition for tenants with others in the same price range & location. An attractive presentation & atmosphere will tip the scales in your favour & create increased competition for your property, resulting in a high quality tenant.
What expenses do the tenants cover?
- Rental payments, in advance
- Water bills (if separately metered)
- Electricity, gas and telephone
- Utility connection fees
- Cleaning costs on vacating
- Break lease fees if applicable
- Any repairs for which they are liable
- Any other expenses stipulated in the lease agreement
What expenses do I cover?
- Maintenance and repairs
- Initial utility connection or installation costs
- Council rates
- Body Corporate fees (if applicable)
- Other items if agreed to in the lease agreement, such as a gardener
The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 governs property management in this state, and this is enforced by the Department of Justice. All Landlords, Tenants and Property Managers must adhere to the Act. The Renting – Statements of Rights & Duties guide is a useful publication to read, as it stipulates each party’s obligation. More information can be gained by contacting the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, Consumer Affairs or speaking with your property manager. We’re more than happy to help!