When you make the decision to privately manage your own tenants, you are taking on a responsible job that demands professionalism, organisation and time.
Working with many property investors over the years here at Eckermann Steinert Conveyancers, I’ve noticed some common things that the most prosperous landlords do to help minimise the inevitable challenges that will arise when dealing with people and the surprises that life throws our ways.
While I am on the record of favouring the use of property managers, here are three things that I suggest are invaluable if you want to be a successful and sane private rental landlord in South Australia.
Use correct forms
Here in South Australia, the state government has created a comprehensive collection of resources online to provide you with forms and procedures to ensure you handle routine and unexpected developments the right way.
It will be a good investment of your time to become familiar with (and bookmark) the page, Forms and fact sheets for private rental tenancies.
On this page, you will be able to download and print out vital forms such as:
- Inspection sheets
- Bond lodgement forms
- Lease agreements
- Rental payment forms
A sign of how comprehensive this page is, is that it also provides a raft of official notices, to allow you to:
- Enter premises
- Increase rent
- End agreements
- Change tenants
This page also contains fact sheets to lead you through the correct processes for different scenarios.
Following proper procedures is vital, especially if your matter ends up before the Residential Tenancies Tribunal, because you will be asked to show proof that you have acted appropriately to stand any chance of winning your case.
Use direct debit for rental payments
Some of the most gnawing issues for landlords is getting rent payments late or getting them in small, ad hoc payments of the course of each rental period.
Neither of these situations is ideal.
One way to smooth out these issues is to arrange a Direct Debit Agreement with your bank that is signed off by your tenant, agreeing to have regular rental payments debited on a fixed schedule.
This gives both parties certainty although some tenants can be wary of these agreements for fear of handing over control of their finances.
Nevertheless, many professional property managers make agreeing to direct debit one of the terms of getting a tenancy.
An alternative offered by some banks is a ‘rent card’ or similar, offering tenants a way of managing payments to you with a choice of payment options.
Talk to your bank about the options available.
Build a maintenance network
Things that go bump in the night can include hot water systems, toilets and roofs.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, you are responsible for ensuring your premises and ancillary property are in a ‘ reasonable state of repair’ at commencement of a lease and throughout it, having regard to the ‘age, character and prospective life’ of the property as long as conditions ‘comply with statutory requirements affecting the premises’.
In short, you need to be responsive to repair requests and even act immediately in certain situations.
Unless you are a tradesperson, it pays to take a leaf out of the book of successful property managers, by building a reliable network of handy people and professionals you can call upon and trust.
Murphy’s Law dictates that most of the request for repairs or maintenance will occur when you are unexpectedly busy or travelling, so having responsive, trustworthy eyes, ears and hands will prove invaluable.
Another tip is to arrange a certain threshold of repair cost that your maintenance team can carry out without bogging you down with quotes and conversations.
If you feel that repair requests are becoming unreasonable, refer to my first tip and look at the guides setting out your rights and responsibilities.
Good luck with your landlord duties and if you prosper I look forward to helping you transfer more properties under your name.