Our panel of experts advise on what to do with tenants who infringe on your personal life, and how to decide whether you have enough properties in your portfolio
Q: I have a problem that will probably be different from most. My current tenant has been living in my Brisbane investment for the past three months and has been good with the rent so far.
My problem is that he keeps hitting on me. Initially I was flattered, but being completely uninterested, it is all getting a bit much now. He emails me every day and I get phone calls and text messages into the late hours of the night. None of it is offensive; it is more to do with the fact that I’ve told him quite clearly, on numerous occasions, to stop. His persistence is the real issue here. I feel like he is really starting to infringe on my life.
I would love to block his number and email, but I can’t sever contact with him for the obvious reason that I need rent from him each month. What should I do? I don’t want to threaten him with eviction because I feel that would be a little heavy-handed, and I’m not sure if it’s legal either. Nevertheless, this has to stop.
A: That is certainly an interesting predicament, but it is quite serious in nature and is more common than you may think.
Harassment of landlords by tenants can occur in a variety of ways. In this particular case, it seems that your tenant has disregarded your request to cease the unwelcome and excessive communication, which continues to place you in a difficult position.
Before the tenant’s behaviour escalates any further, my advice to you is to issue a formal letter reminding him of his rights and responsibilities as a tenant and the appropriate channels he should direct any valid queries to. Politely but firmly express that the excessive communication is not acceptable and should it continue you will refer the matter to the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) in Queensland.
Unless there is a justified query regarding his tenancy or the property, there is no need for him to be contacting you. You should also keep all of the text messages and emails, should you require these as evidence of harassment.
Depending on the resulting outcome, you may consider contacting the RTA’s dispute resolution services if the behaviour continues. The RTA provides a free conciliation service to assist tenants and lessors/agents to resolve disputes without the need for further legal action.
Given the circumstances, another option is to completely distance yourself from your tenant by appointing a professional property manager to manage your property and your tenant. You would not have to communicate with the tenant at all if you were to appoint a property manager, and there would be no reason for the tenant to contact you either.
I hope this information is helpful and your situation improves.
– Rob Farmer
When is enough enough?
Q: I have a few properties in my portfolio, and by my projections they should provide me with a sufficient income in a few years. Lately, however, something is bothering me. I can’t decide whether I should still keep on accumulating properties.
I was hoping a mature investor would have an answer. When is a good time? I know everyone is different, but do you base it on your age, your cash flow, or on 10-year property cycles? Then there is a part of me that says, what the hell? Keep buying into your sixties, seventies and eighties.
A: Thanks for the question. As I was reading it, I was reminded of where I was over 10 years ago, after having started investing in 1990. I would buy a new property when I thought I – and when I got married ‘we’ – could afford it. Like many novice investors, there was no real science in our approach. We didn’t know how many properties we needed, when we were going to stop, or what was going to be our peak debt level. We didn’t even know what level of wealth and passive income we were going to have in retirement.
Your typical novice investor who has a couple of properties will often only see and forecast short-term – usually for the next five or 10 years since it is hard to know what the future has in store for you. In our case, we were going to start a family and this was going to have an impact for a period of time. Then once you have the family there’s increased household expenditure that comes with it, plus the consideration of enjoying today as much as planning for tomorrow.
The lightbulb moment is when you do an exercise in working out what things are important to you, what goals you are trying to achieve to live a fulfilling life, and then you put a monetary value on being in a position to afford them. Effectively, you are asking yourself: what is important to me? What makes me happy?
In your question you talk about your properties generating a ‘sufficient’ level of income for you, but does sufficient give you the income you need or the income you desire once you ask yourself the questions above?
Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Simply start with your end goal in mind and work out whether you have enough property and other investments, including super, to provide you with this.
Of course, starting with an end goal in mind sounds easy, but I have to confess that doing overall projection calculations and forecasts is not easy to get accurate. You have to factor in many variables. These include spending forecasts, income forecasts, growth in property values and yields, cost of property maintenance and upkeep, debt elimination, taxation, occupancy rates, superannuation forecast returns, and other investment returns. Then you need to combine them into one overall forecast to truly measure your anticipated outcome.
This may require the services of a professional, such as a financial planner, accountant or property investment advisor, but it will be well worth it to know what you should be doing, not what others are doing or think is right.
– Ben Kingsley