Nightmare stories about tenants trashing rental properties and refusing to pay rent are all too common. In the last couple of weeks alone, several tales have gained traction in public consciousness.
One involved a family who had not paid any rent for over 12 months, while deftly avoiding eviction and termination notices. Another involved a Toowoomba landlord who was left with an estimated $30,000 cleaning bill after being forced to get the police to evict his tenants.
Such situations are something every investor fears. And, sometimes, it can seem that the tenancy scales are heavily stacked against them.
For example, under SA’s recently amended Residential Tenancies Act
, which came into force on March 1, there are significant requirements for landlords and property managers in relation to residential tenancy databases (RTD).
REISA CEO Greg Troughton said that landlords and property managers now have to:
- Notify prospective tenants if they check their application against an RTD.
- Inform prospective tenants if an RTD has information about them and tell them how the listing can be amended or removed.
- Not list information about a tenant on an RTD unless the tenant has been given a copy to review and has had 14 days to make a submission.
Further, a tenant can only be listed on an RTD if the tenancy has ended, the tenant breached the agreement, and either the tenant owes the landlord more than the bond, or the Tribunal has made an order terminating the tenancy agreement.
So what can investors do to try and ensure as few problems with their - potentially unknown - tenants as possible?
RentingSmart founder Ben Levi said the first, and most important, rule for any investor-landlord is to treat “landlording” like a business not a hobby.
In his view, for a “landlording” business to succeed it must follow strict guidelines, make sure all preventative measures are in place, have great record keeping, and maintain positive cash flow and strong customer (ie: tenant) relationships.
Along with being familiar with the Tenancy Act relevant to the state their property is in, landlords should ensure they have the right policies and procedures in place to deal with bad tenants before a lease is even signed, Levi said.
While landlords should be friendly, approachable and understanding to their tenants, he said they also have to make it clear - from day 1 - that they will monitor rent collection and conduct regular property inspections, in a legally mandated way.
“If your tenants know that you will be aware of rent in arrears, and know your rights with reminder notices, ‘termination notices’ or ‘notices to vacate’, as well as entry notices, they are unlikely to push the boundaries.”
Ben Levi’s top tips for landlords:
1. Tenants must know that you treat property investment and ‘landlording’ like a business.
2. Prevention is better than cure.
3. Do everything by the book.
4. Make sure you provide the correct minimum days required for notices and entry.
5. Compile an “entry condition report”, which includes photos, of your property before tenants move in.
6. Keep comprehensive records of all your property inspections and your conversations with tenants.
7. Make sure you have landlords insurance.
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