121 – Renovation Tips For Rental Properties

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Renovation Tips for Rental Properties

Are you planning to put your property on the market for rent? Are you a renovator who buys and holds the property for rental? Do you want to know how to get a good tenant?  If so, then this episode is for you! In this podcast, I have a special guest, Lauren Robinson, a Property Manager, a Real Estate Broker, and the director of Rental Results who will share her expertise in managing properties for rentals. Lauren will also share some of the resources that they use, the need for a property management specialist, and the factors that a landlord has to consider when renting a property. 

Listen to Episode 121: Renovation Tips For Rental Properties

 

Podcast: Download (Duration 35:09 — 48MB)

Episode Highlights

  • [00:01:18] Empower women to build wealth through property investing
  • [00:02:20] Saving them from themselves
  • [00:03:35] It’s important to stay up to date with what’s happening
  • [00:05:13] Understanding the tenant’s history 
  • [00:06:17] The worst job in the world 
  • [00:08:22] How to look for a property agent 
  • [00:09:50] Handing over the renovator’s baby 
  • [00:11:01] The importance of documenting the property
  • [00:12:23] The level of wear and tear
  • [00:13:39] Hard-wearing options 
  • [00:14:25] How to monitor a property manager’s performance
  • [00:15:06] Pro tenant agent
  • [00:16:15] The equation of the rental property investment
  • [00:17:05] General improvements 
  • [00:17:46] The big spin 
  • [00:20:09] Property with a swimming pool 
  • [00:21:21] Pet-friendly properties
  • [00:23:17] Downsizer tenants 
  • [00:24:54] Lauren’s scariest story  
  • [00:27:26] How to determine the contamination issue
  • [00:28:16] More little known landlord responsibilities 
  • [00:29:26] Marketing rental properties 
  • [00:31:35] Styling a property for rental 
Renovation Tips For Rental Properties
home rental

Image: Rental Results. More photos in the show notes. 

Transcription

“Really the key is to make sure that the minute they’re walking through the door, they can imagine themselves living there and they really want to want that.”

Intro

Well, hello everyone! It’s Bernadette, back with another episode of She Renovates. Today, I have a special guest in Lauren Robinson. Lauren is a multi-award-winning property manager and she’s the founder and the director of a Brisbane-based boutique property management company called Rental Results. She’s got nearly 20 years of experience in property management. Lauren, you don’t look old enough to have 20 years of experience in anything.

Lauren Robinson: Oh, Thank you.

Bernadette: Authored the book Rented, the ultimate investor companion to managing your property that walks both new and experienced investors through the five stages of property ownership. Lauren, welcome! I’m going to let you share what your mission in life is.

Lauren Robinson: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me, Bernadette. I guess what really inspires me about She Renovates and yourself is that you really empower women to build wealth through property investing and that’s what attracted me to listen to your podcast and I just love it. So, thank you for having me here today.

I guess my mission is to inspire women to invest in themselves. So continually learning and also in property. To grow their wealth and independence. I started investing when I was 21 and I was really lucky to have some amazing mentors and I think yeah, I’d love to see others do the same.

Bernadette:  Awesome! Yes, we’re very aligned with that mission. Today we’re going to delve deep into the world of property rental, and to provide our listeners some intelligence on how they can get the best out of their property and also from their property manager.

I’ve prepared some questions but if you feel that I’m missing anything, please feel free to jump in.

Lauren Robinson: Okay.

Bernadette: And I guess the first question, which is something that we hear occasionally, I think most people are on board with this, and it’s not one I prepared earlier, but I thought I’d ask it anyhow, what value does the rental agent bring to an investment property? Why would someone not do it on their own?

Lauren Robinson: I feel like a lot of people don’t understand that it’s actually a full-time job. So it’s 24/7 around the clock. You need to have people that can handle any issues that pop up, whether it’s emergency maintenance or, perhaps it’s just really understanding that legislation.

A lot of property investors may not realise that you can’t advertise a property when it’s not legal height downstairs, so they think that they can advertise it as a four-bedroom, but really it’s actually a two-bedroom and downstairs is a utility room. And, we often see things like that happen.

And then, down the track, the owners may find themselves at tribunals. So it’s really the peace of mind of knowing that the property manager really understands the legislation is acting in your best interest for you.

Bernadette: Yeah. So basically you’re saving them from themselves.

Lauren Robinson: Yes. Yeah.

Bernadette: That’s a very important job. And the thing is that tenancy law is quite complex and it changes. So…

Lauren Robinson:  Yes.

Bernadette: The everyday person who already has a full-time job and a family to look after it’s a lot to ask.

Lauren Robinson: Oh, for sure. We’re constantly attending training. And it’s also really important to make sure you stay up to date with what’s happening. You need to know what technologies are being utilized, how you can market your investment properties, the best to get the highest returns and attract the widest pool of tenants. So there’s so much to it.

Bernadette: Yeah. And the other thing I do want to ask you is for my own benefit, what databases or information do you have access to that a normal landlord wouldn’t? Like, what information can you get access to? Because I think this is a deal-breaker for landlords in terms of weighing up whether they like, for me, I just don’t even think it worth considering, but I know some things that they can do just as easily themselves. Is there anything- do you have an edge in that respect?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah, there’s a couple of things. There’s Equifax, which is and in tickers and all the ones. So it’s basically checking if a tenant has been blacklisted and you’ll often find which is a risk for our owners if they’re advertising on maybe Gumtree or Facebook for tenants.

It’s the bad tenants that tend to seek out those landlords because they know that they’re probably not going to properly check their previous history. They may be not going to look on ticker or Equifax to save the vain bankrupts before, or if they have a bad rental history. That’s a real risk to a landlord.

Bernadette: So part of your offering is that you have accounts with those organisations and have access to that confidential information.

Lauren Robinson:  For sure.

Bernadette: Yeah.

Lauren Robinson: The other things are like advertising, so realestate.com, Domain, there’s about 10 websites we advertise on which owners typically won’t have access to themselves for all of those. And then you’ve also got the databases like Price Finder or RP data where you can check if an owner or sorry of a tenant owned a property before and really do that thorough in-depth research, which is so important.

Bernadette: Yeah. So that’s an interesting point. Can we just have a look at that? Why would someone having owned- a tenant, having owned a property before be relevant?

Lauren Robinson: I think it’s really important to understand that history of the full history of a tenant. So if they’ve owned a property, if they’ve rented just understanding exactly where they’re coming from. If they’ve owned a property that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be a better tenant than someone who’s rented before, that’s for sure.

But I think it’s also understanding if they’ve owned a property and they’ve sold it, perhaps you can then have a look online at how it was presented. Maybe even speak to that sales agent, if they are agreeable to find out how they’ve kept and lived.

Bernadette: Okay. So it’s a really granular sort of investigation that you do.

Lauren Robinson:  Yeah, like a detective. 

Bernadette: So if someone was choosing a property manager, I actually think it must be the worst job in the world to be honest. And I also think it’s very poorly paid because when you look at what they’re paid for, what they do━ so anyone that’s making able to make it profitable obviously needs to be a very efficient operator and has good systems. Would you agree with that?

Lauren Robinson: Oh, for sure. For the 20 years that I’ve been in the industry, I was really lucky. I worked for one of the best agencies in Brisbane for eight years, and we were all paid on a commission structure.

I worked for them for eight years and we were earning well above the industry award. The majority of us owned and buying properties and multiple properties by the time we’re 30. I think that was one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about property management now. It doesn’t have to be a base salary entry-level role, and we certainly don’t get paid like that in our office. 

I think it’s really important to have consistency with who you’re dealing with, the property- owner like the property investor, understanding who they’re dealing with, how much experience they’ve got, and you really want that property manager to be going above and beyond to try and get them the highest rental return, best tenant selection, making sure that investment is well-maintained. And I think someone on a base wage is not going to be going above and be for your investor.

Bernadette: No, I always feel well, certainly with some of the ones that I’ve dealt with in the past that it’s often very junior and they have, they’re very overloaded, work-wise. Have large numbers of properties that they’re managing.

Lauren Robinson: Yes. That’s traditional offices and I think really what we’re seeing in the, in that’s coming through the industry is a lot of artificial intelligence, so repetitive tasks being taken off the property managers and being automated. We’re seeing a lot of assistance and a lot of technology utilised  so that the property managers doing higher-level tasks and now nurturing those relationships.

They now have the time to pick up the phone and speak to the investor to really establish those relationships, to be able to provide higher-level advice. So that’s what we’re seeing from the good agents.

Bernadette: Oh, that’s great. And so if you were looking for a property agent should we be assessing like their bandwidth, their workload? What sort of things should be we be looking for?

Lauren Robinson: I have got a list of questions and I’m happy to share that questions with you. So you can share that with your listeners. Interviewing the property managers and making sure that you’re asking all those questions initially because it’s important to understand how are they going to market the property. Do they have their resources in the office to be able to show my property immediately if someone’s inquiring? How are they processing those applications to make sure we get a quality tenant who’s not getting through how are they managing that investment? So how often are the routine inspections carried out?

So really, you want them to be at the maximum they’re allowed to for under the legislation. So in Queensland, it’s every three months. So I think that’s important to make sure they’re happening all the time. Do they have a portal? So you can log in at any time and see all of your information in real-time.

That’s really important to know that the rent’s paid in real-time and you can see that. So transparency is a massive thing. Communication’s important how they actually conduct the inspections and are they going to miss things? That’s really important to know and to get a feel for.

Bernadette: Great. Thanks for that. We’d love that checklist.

Lauren Robinson:  Yeah of course.

Bernadette: Yeah. That’s really good information. I’d never thought about being mobile enough or reactive enough to be able to go and show someone through straight away. That’s a really good point.

Lauren Robinson: Yeah.

Bernadette: Sometimes renovators feel quite anxious about handing over their baby.

Lauren Robinson: Oh yes.

Bernadette: To me, particularly, like I prefer to put my renovated property, not that I’ve had to do it too often, but on Airbnb because I know that at least I can get in every few days to check that everything’s okay. So what advice would you give to someone who was looking to hand over property that they just finished renovating? It was immaculate and they wanted to like, make sure that it was looked after?

Lauren Robinson:  So I guess when you’re handing over that investment, that you’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind in terms of the renovation, you really want to make sure that everything’s really well-documented. So your entry conditioner of what’s going to be the key. Really it needs to be a thorough entry condition report. And that’s another thing I’d suggest asking the property manager. Can you see a copy of how they look? So you want everything documented, any detail on there, plus obviously photos of everything at the property. So typically for a house, you might have anywhere between 250 and 400 photos of everything really well-documented.

Bernadette: Wow. Yeah. Those photos from both sides of the fence are really important.

Lauren Robinson: Definitely.

Bernadette:  Think for tenants as well they need to━ when we first moved to Sydney, we came from Adelaide. We rented a really beautiful house in quite a lovely, old established suburb. It was quite a valuable house and had just had a brand new renovation, which was fine. 

We looked after it and, but the original part of the house there were led light windows at the front and why we were there, cause when we rented it, it was actually, the gardens were really overrun. We did a lot of stuff to clean it up because it had such a beautiful lawn. I painted the letterbox because that was old and tired and all this sort of thing. And then when we bought our own home they said they weren’t paying all the bond back because we had broken LED light windows in the front of the house. I thought, “wow seriously, I didn’t know that.” And then the agent━ I had no clue about the photos having even been taken. I’d not rented since I was in my teens. And then the agent came back to me and said, “Oh, actually I just check the photos. Those cracks were there when you came.” 

Lauren Robinson: Oh, lucky.

Bernadette: It’s quite a nerve-wracking experience, isn’t it?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah, definitely.

Bernadette:  For the tenant as well as a landlord.

Lauren Robinson: Yeah. And that’s the importance of that entry conditioner board’s essentially your bond. As a tenant, it’s really important to complete that in the three days you have.

Bernadette: Yeah. So what level of wear and tear should you expect? Like obviously paint work’s going to get scuffed, the polished floor might get scratched because just through normal living.

Lauren Robinson: Yeah.

Bernadette: Is there a measuring stick? Is there something where you can determine━ 

Lauren Robinson: That’s often what conciliation and tribunal is there to determine. So I guess, scratches on floorboards within reason. So scuffs on flooring, but not scratched like deep scratches or gouges. You can, if you can determine━ okay well, they’ve had a swivel chair on that floorboard and that’s obviously worn that spot then that’s not ‘wear and tear,’ that’s damaged. So it really just depends on what it actually is.

It’s a case by case basis wear and tear is one of those things where we’ll go through and do a vacate. And 90% of the time you’ll have a tenant who’s saying that’s wear and tear and a landlord who’s saying it’s not, and we’re in the middle is trying to determine, okay is it, or is it not?

Then if we can’t determine that, then it goes to the next stage, which is mediation. But I think, you’ve got an owner who obviously wants to maintain the property in a condition where it was perfect initially and then you’ve got tenants who obviously have lived there and maybe they’ve damaged or maybe they haven’t. So it’s that fine line. 

Bernadette: Yeah. And I think for renovators in particular, you need to be responsible about the finishes that if it’s going to be rented because I think that you have to expect that people are okay actually going to live in it. Things like laminated floors. If they’re in a kitchen, they need to be they need to resist moisture because you can’t avoid water splashing in a kitchen.

Lauren Robinson: And yeah. hard-wearing options. Obviously, you’d know, but like the vinyl strips, as opposed to, carpet or tiles that might cheap and things like that. 

Bernadette: Some of the strips are fantastic because they move the fridge and scratch the floor. You can just rip it up and put another one down.

Lauren Robinson: Yes. I know.

Bernadette: That’s a great option for renters?

Lauren Robinson: Yes.

Bernadette: Okay. How do you monitor your property manager’s performance? Like how do you know they’re doing a good job?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah, I think it really comes back to the routine inspection. So during the tenancy, if you’re being, obviously you want to be aware, made aware each investor’s different in terms of what communication they require. We’ve got some owners who say, “don’t contact me unless it’s over a thousand dollars a week or whatever,” but I’d say the majority of owners want to know what’s going on at their property. They want to know if there’s maintenance required.

One of the things we do is an annual maintenance plan so that owners can budget towards things. Before end of the financial year, they might want to prepare to spend some money on it to make sure that investment is being well maintained.

Bernadette: Yeah, I do find we’ve got one particular property agent who I feel like, I think I am reasonable about rentals and what to expect, but I feel that our property agent is very pro-tenant to the point where I think she’s like sometimes she tries to get things through that. I just don’t think really fair or reasonable. So that’s quite hard to juggle on. I would change except she’s, it’s a small town and she’s the only━ 

Lauren Robinson: Okay.

Bernadette: It was challenging.

Lauren Robinson:  That’s the important thing. Property managers need to understand that they work for the owner. Obviously, we need to work within the legislation, but it’s about educating the client to understand. Okay. But at the end of the day, we work for the owner. The tenant’s responsible for damage or repairs or they’ve caused something, then that ultimately is their obligation to pay for or repair.

Bernadette: Absolutely. I know. Sometimes it can be hard because the whole story behind what’s going on for the tenant. And I know some landlords are just not very nice people, so you’ve got to juggle that.

Lauren Robinson: Yes, definitely.

Bernadette: How do you value the return on investment on improvements in a rental property? Is there any equation that you work on?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah, so typically things like air conditioning, so that tends to be between sort of 10 to $15 more a week. Dishwashers around that $10  a week mark. So it depends on what it is and the demographic that’s likely to attract, be attracted to that property, and what they’re prepared to spend.

If you’ve got a four-bedroom, two bathrooms or three bathrooms, double car house within the inner city, and the owners were to add a pool, then you’re looking at possibly a hundred dollars a week more in rental return. So it really just depends on the suburb. And what they’re actually doing, but yeah, we can do, we can typically guide the owner on that sort of stuff.

Bernadette: And what about just general improvement? If you were to just go through and spruce it up, get new floor coverings, light fittings, paint, and curtains would there be some sort of rule of thumb for that?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah, so we had the exact same thing. We’ve done that on one of our own properties. So we just tied it up completely. It was previously rented for 400 a week. This is in Paddington in Brisbane city. And then now it’s renting for 550. It depends on the demand and there’s not an exact rule of thumb, but obviously, if it’s presenting and it’s going to attract quality tenants and there’s going to be more demand for that property, especially in a tightly held market.

Bernadette: That’s an incredible improvement.

Lauren Robinson: Yes. 

Bernadette: I was working with an investor who had an apartment, an old bricker in somewhere can’t remember where it was, but it was some way on the North shore. And she spruced it up. I said to her, “go and talk to their property agent because they know your market. They know what people are looking for.”

The property has a great big picture window in the living room, and he suggested to her that she put a plantation shutter on that. And I thought, “Oh, that’s a big spin, but you know what? He’s the one that knows.” Then they got a tremendous price for it. 

Lauren Robinson:  Yes.

Bernadette:  Like everything’s cheap, can’t stand vertical blinds. They work well, but my golly and I think that was what it was. It was just that these big picture windows. That was a big, wow. That’s like selling a property. You’ve got to have the, wow.

Lauren Robinson: Oh, for sure. Definitely. And it’s worth spending that extra money on locations. If you’ve got something in a location like that, where it is, close to proximity to the beach or, river views or whatever it might be. Even, I find lemonade benchtops versus stone benchtops. I would always encourage a landlord to put a stone benchtop in for the slot like they’re a little bit more money. I was at parties because it’s long-lasting. It looks really expensive and it just last.

Bernadette: It does. Oh, look, I so agree with you. In fact, because we just finished two projects for an investor. And the second one, she in the process decided to sell and I asked her… so I was doing it with a student and the student said to me, “the painter has quoted all around $1400 to resurface the bench.” And I said, “I  really think we should see if we can do Caesarstone because I’m just not in love with the whole resurfacing thing.” It has its place. And so it was $1400 to resurface it, and it was 1900 to do Caesarstone.

 

Lauren Robinson: Yeah. It’s a no brainer.

Bernadette:  It is. I just look so much better and you’re right. It does last so much better. As long as you use a color that’s going to have longevity. Like we just sit a plain white.

Lauren Robinson: Yep.

Bernadette: No sparkles. Yes. Pretty sure they’ve gone out. But anyhow, yes. So I would absolutely agree with you. So what would be the top three things that you would say add the most well, I shouldn’t say poolproof, but the most common improvements that you would make that you said a pool. That’s the last thing I’d think of, but I guess because of Queensland.

Lauren Robinson:  Yeah, I think, and that pool is a very specific market. So if you’ve got an owner with an executive property to get to that next level, so yeah, definitely wouldn’t normally recommend a pool. None of my investment properties actually have a pool, but that’s just one example.

But I guess in terms of everyday stock, so I think air conditioning, especially in Queensland, I’m fully fencing the yard. So if it’s a house definitely if you can fence the yard for children and pets, that will definitely increase the demand for the property. And also storage. So especially in apartments, so we’ve seen owners at a storage cage or add storage above the cost space.

And all of a sudden they’re getting tenants quicker than other units in that same building, or, and they’re perhaps paying, slightly more to. I think they’re the main things we see. Obviously making sure that your property is always presenting well, which means, you may need to repaint it or replace the silicon or replace the curtains every now and then. So I think when you’re going in scanning around and looking, is this going to attract a quality tenant?

Bernadette: Yeah, that’s good information. So yeah, pet-friendly. I am so on board with making investment properties, pet-friendly. I think that is absolutely essential. But of course, there is always the concern that some people don’t manage their pets responsibly. So what tips have you got for making them prep-friendly without creating big headaches?

Lauren Robinson: Yes. I’m a pet owner myself, so you can if your property lends itself. If it is a house and the demographic of tenants that it’s likely to attract families, then, having a fence jarred and allowing a pet is definitely worthwhile considering these days, tenants will often come and they have to fill in pet application forms. They will often come with pet references.

Bernadette:  Really?

Lauren Robinson:  Yes. It’s great. And, we have seen with body corporates allowing pets, they’ll often ask for a reference from the vet and they might be restrictions about the pets, size and making sure that it’s not a barker and those sorts of things. I guess there are pros and cons and yet you’re right. Not every pet owner is responsible. And there are risks associated with allowing pets in a property that might cause damage. I think it’s important to understand your landlord insurance policy because most landlord insurance policies will actually cover pet damage.

Also in Queensland, for any properties that are over 700 a week, you can ask them for an additional bond. So if you have an executive property and a tenant comes along who does have pets, and you’re concerned about that, then you may ask for, five weeks as opposed to four weeks in bond. But I definitely it is worthwhile considering allowing a pet if the property lends itself to that. 

Bernadette: Yeah. I have a friend who’s a real estate agent in Brisbane and she has a big market for its more affordable accommodation, but for single young women who have a dog, because apparently, that’s a common thing.

Lauren Robinson: Yes.

Bernadette: And they find it really hard to get accommodation where they can take their dogs. So I don’t think it’s just a family thing.

Lauren Robinson: Oh no. And I think we’re seeing a lot of downsizers these days who may have come from a house. They wanting to move into a unit. And a lot of complexes these days are allowing pets, but you do have to make sure that they’re going to be responsible.

So obviously you don’t want- you’re writing lifts and, things like that, which, it makes it- and barking and it makes it unbearable and you’re going to have continued issues. So it’s definitely checking those references and making sure they’re going to be suitable. Applicants is really important.

Bernadette: And other finishes that are better with pets. Have you had instances where pets have, there’s been something that’s been particularly prone to damage?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah. So things like carpets, ideally, if you didn’t have carpets and that would be more pet-friendly. I think also like we’ve had a couple where they’ve had to replace the carpets in particular areas or scratching on fly screens, those sorts of things. If it’s a cat or perhaps it’s a dog or damage to the back of, a door trying to get in. So I think it is, it is a risk that you run by allowing a pet, but there’s definitely, we’ve got a lot of great pet owners who take their pets with them to work, or, they really pamper their little pooches. It’s a fur baby.

Bernadette:  And I think really like they may scratch a door or terror, a fly screen, but it’s repairable like even shop it is pretty cheap and easy to replace.

Lauren Robinson: Exactly.

Bernadette: Particularly if it’s covered by your landlord’s insurance or their bond, whatever.

Lauren Robinson:  Oh definitely.

Bernadette: Okay, the next question I’m going to ask you, which is one I know you might’ve been a bit surprised about, what’s the scariest story you’ve had as a property manager?

Lauren Robinson: I guess in terms of the scariest story, I guess we have had what have we had we’ve had, I think after 20 years in the industry, you come across most things. We’ve had, not, I haven’t actually had drugs that are property, but I’ve had tenants who were dealing drugs at our property over the years. We’ve had mould issues. We’ve had death of a tenant. We’ve had ghosts at a rental property which is a little bit quirky. So you come across a lot of different scenarios where you just did not expect that. Had snakes. One of the things that probably the scariest thing was we had a property where snakes were coming up through the drains.

Bernadette: Wow.

Lauren Robinson: They were coming up through the drains and the toilet. The snake catcher had to come out and get rid of them. So that was probably the scariest.

Bernadette: Wow! I would want to move out.

Lauren Robinson: I know.

Bernadette: And so did you have to deal with that personally or?

Lauren Robinson:  Yes. Obviously, they’re tenants, we’re living in rural property. When I say rural, it’s not that it’s only like 15 Ks from the city, so it wasn’t actually that rural, but it was in an area where the blocks were probably half an acre as opposed to 400 square meters. But yeah. And there was a lot of bushland around there.

Bernadette: Wow.

Lauren Robinson: So that was pretty relaxed about it really.

Bernadette:  Well, you’re obviously tougher than you look. Okay. So you said that you’ve had problems you’ve have had experience with drugs or some sort of drugs. What about the contamination issue? I’ve heard stories about how if there’s been ice manufactured in a property that it’s contaminated and is that the case?

Lauren Robinson: That’s right. Yeah. You can’t rent the property. So it has to go through a decontamination process. Again, a lot of landlord insurance are actually covering this. So I personally have not had a situation like this myself, but I’m aware of what happens and yeah, you, there’s a period of time where you can actually rent that property. It then goes, obviously, you relying back on to your landlord insurance policy to pay you for that loss of rent during the time where the property gets brought back up to scratch.

The scenario that we had was that a tenant who’d moved into a property was dealing drugs. And then obviously they went through that process to evict them. But yeah, it’s not a situation that any investor wants to have ever.

Bernadette:  No. And how would you know,? Like how do you know that there’s been some drug that’s contaminated the property?

Lauren Robinson:  Yeah. So there’s typically signs and you can also- there are companies out there that will do samples and testing of the properties as well. But when it comes to drugs that are property. It’s often the neighbors that report that or different things. And the police are usually the first ones to come to an agency and say, “look, this is what’s happening at their investment property,” because normally the neighbors are the ones who are living right beside it. They see suspicious things and that reporting that. We have had scenarios in the past. I remember 12 years ago we had a situation where the neighbors suspected a tenant was cooking drugs at a property. The police were watching, they raided the property and it was nothing. You’ve just got to, yeah, it’s a fine line. And I think they’ve got to take everything serious as well.

Bernadette: Yeah. Wow. It’s definitely been an education. Are there any new or little-known landlord responsibilities that we need to know about?

Lauren Robinson: There are a few things that owners should be aware of. So when it comes to risks of an investment property and there are things that you should be auditing on a regular basis, so blind cords, making sure they’re compliant as per the legislation.

It’s a blind cord actually needs to have warning labels hooks so that they’re secure. And obviously a certain distance off the floor. Smoke alarms, there’s new legislation coming out in January 2022, where all rental properties need to have photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms. You also need to make sure your pool fencing is compliant with legislation that- the pool fence certificates actually expire.

hings to be aware of are uneven pavers. So over tenant trips that are rental property, you could be sued by the tenant for negligence or damages. It’s also really important to understand that either if a property is broken into, so if they’re a window or blocks of broken by a break-in at a property, It’s the landlord who’s actually responsible to make sure that property is secure straightaway. So we actually had one on boxing day. 

This year, straight after Christmas tenants had been away. Very sought-after area in Brisbane, affluent suburb. And there was a break in there. Straightaway, we were on the phones, getting the locks changed also the glass repair is out there to replace any glass. And that’s actually the owner’s responsibility as opposed to, the tenants.

Bernadette: Okay. Yeah. Really useful information, Lauren. Now we’re getting to the pointy end of the conversation. So how do we market our rental property? Keep our vacancy rates low. Yeah. And who do we need to help us with our property? So I’ve given you three questions all in one.

Lauren Robinson:  Okay. I’ll try and merge those. So in terms of vacancy rates and marketing, I think it’s really important to make sure that you’re on the front foot. So advertising the property is six weeks prior to the tenants vacating, making sure you’re using professional photography, 2d, 3d floor plans.

You’ve got a database of tenants looking for similar properties and they’re notified as soon as something new comes available. You’re showing the property multiple times a week, and tenants are able to view times that suit them. So that process is really important. Also advertising on all the major portals.

So realestate.com, Domain, the others out there. In terms of who needs to be on your inf your property investment team. So I think there’s a couple of key people. So a buyer’s agent is possibly one to consider, and it’s something new that’s coming out mortgage brokers. So I think it’s really important to know how much you can borrow to be out before you start investing in and obviously have that loans reviewed every sort of 18 to maybe months to two years, making sure you’re getting the best deal. Obviously a financial planner if needed as well, that’s always good, a great accountant to make sure you get your structure right. I’m a really good builder, handyman, maintenance team. So that’s really important to have those key people around you to make sure the property is really well maintained.

A property manager as well is really important so that you understand the legislation behind renting it. And you’re trying to essentially, you’re wanting to make sure you’re mitigating any risks by having that property manager assist you in that process.

Bernadette: Yeah. And just one more question. What about styling the property for rental?

Lauren Robinson: Yeah, so we find, I personally have done things like out of a pot plant or like a plant at the front door, or we might’ve put a couple of things into the property to make it look- I think really the key is to make sure that the minute they’re walking through the door, they can imagine themselves living there and they really want to want that. So you need to, ideally, it would be nice to style them, but most investors don’t want to spend a couple of thousand dollars to style it. So if you’ve sold it and maybe you’ve got styling at the property, that’s great.

Another alternative is to add virtual furniture into your marketing so that people can see how that might look. But yeah, I think it’s really just a balance of being mindful of how much you’re spending when you’re marketing it to.

Bernadette: Actually, our last reno we sold just before Christmas the lady that bought it, rented it out, which amazed me, but anyhow, it was still styled from when we had sold it. So the vacancy rate in Sydney has around our area has been quite high since COVID and I was really interested to see how they went, but they actually had people clamoring for it and they ended up renting it out for $50 a week more.

Lauren Robinson:  Amazing.

Bernadette: And I think that’s mainly attributed to the fact that it was newly renovated, but they’d pitched the price quite high. And also the fact that it was actually styled, so looked very desirable.

Lauren Robinson: Yes.  I think any day of the week if the property is styled lovely it’ll attract quality tenants. And we often find when owners have lived at the property themselves and perhaps they’re bought furniture for the space that fits perfectly and it just looks amazing then that’s when you’re going to attract tenants.

Bernadette: Absolutely. Now I want to thank you for your time, Lauren. This has been a really informative, valuable session, and I know that our listeners will devour it. And so if you can let us know how we can contact you that would be great. And then also about the resources that you’re planning to share with the listeners.

Lauren Robinson: Yeah. Great. Obviously, we’ve got a website which is rentalresults.com.au, so anyone at any stage, you’re welcome to contact me. I’d love to chat about anything about property investing or renovating or, whatever it might be.

Also in terms of the link, we can, I can email that through to you if you want to share that at the bottom of the podcast. I’ll send you an attachment. Thank you so much, Bernadette.

Bernadette: Lauren, the other thing is are you specifically Brisbane?

Lauren Robinson: Just Brisbane, yes.

Bernadette: Yes. I should have put that up the front.

Lauren Robinson:  That’s alright.

Bernadette: Listen, take care.

Lauren Robinson: Thank you.

Bernadette:  I will look forward to meeting you in the flesh.

Lauren Robinson: Yeah. Sounds great. Thanks, Bernadette.

Outro

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