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Finding the Right Tenant; More Than Just the Luck of the Draw

You’ve probably heard the horror stories, and no doubt you’ve seen the pictures, but rest assured, there are ways to ensure your rental property is not the next one making headlines on A Current Affair.

So, how do you attract the right tenants? And how do you avoid a bad tenant slipping through the cracks? It’s not as hard as you think!

Present your property with pride

If your property looks unloved, prospective tenants will think you don’t care about it; so why should they? Present a home you’d like to live in. Ensure windows are clean, the lawns are mowed, and gardens are neat. Freshen interiors with a coat of paint, preferably in neutral colours, and replace tired or broken lights/light fittings. Outdated window coverings need to go. Holland blinds are an inexpensive way to give new life to windows, as well as letting in additional natural light. Once you’ve attended these details, make the property sparkle! If you hand it over in top shape, you can expect it should be returned in the same way at the end of the lease.

Make spaces functional and comfortable

If you have a number of living spaces, you might consider adding a stud wall and a door to create another bedroom. In older homes, converting a formal dining room might be a good option, as long as there’s a functional meals area available. A dedicated study space may prove popular, so too a place for parking undercover; this can be created using something as simple as a shade-sail. Outdoor living is in vogue, so a small investment in paving or decking could see good returns, as could the addition of wardrobes in bedrooms to increase storage space. Finally, no one wants to be hot in summer and cold in winter, so look at affordable options to counter this. All of these may allow you to charge a higher rent, but be savvy, and be sure you don’t overcapitalise.

Engage an expert

Some people think all property managers do is find tenants, collect rent and conduct the odd inspection. Can’t be that hard right? Wrong! A property manager does all this and much more. They have an in-depth knowledge of laws, and they’ll work with you to ensure your property is priced to attract the right tenants. They’ll market it with quality photographs and copywriting, deal with breaches of payment or lease agreements and they’ll handle maintenance issues and liaising with tradespeople when required. In worst case scenarios, they’ll handle evictions, and attend VCAT hearings relating to your property and tenants. Property management can also be claimed as a tax deduction, adding to the attraction!

Follow a thorough screening process

When looking to fill a vacant rental property, be transparent with your property manager about tenants or scenarios you would not be comfortable with. Applicants should undergo a thorough screening process where their identification, income and references are fully checked and they should be checked against the National Tenancy Database that outlines past rental history and complaints. The more information you have, the better chance you’ll weed out the bad eggs.

Inspections are imperative

Ensure that your property manager is conducting regular inspections, and where possible, attend with them so that you can identify potential issues before they arise, or become too serious or costly.  Being there yourself is a good way to show your tenants that you care about their comfort, and this, in turn, may buy you goodwill.

Insurance equals peace of mind

Having landlord insurance ensures that if needed, you’ll be covered for the risks associated with renting out your property. Insurers advise the 3 most common claims related to loss of rental income are malicious or accidental damage and water damage. Investigate the policies available and seek the help of a professional who can ensure you have the cover you need at a price that’s competitive.

Finally, it’s cheaper to keep a good tenant than it is to find a new one, so work with your property manager and tenant to build a relationship that creates a win-win scenario for all involved.