Has your managing agent told you about the new reforms for landlords?

From 23 March, new residential tenancy reforms were implemented and if you own an investment property, these changes will immediately affect you. So ask yourself, has your current managing agent advise you of these changes?

Here’s what you need to know:

1. There’s a new Condition Report that reflects all the new tenancy reforms – including the minimum standards rental properties must achieve and the new smoke alarm regulations.

To learn more about the minimum standards for rental properties, read our previous blog warning landlords of these changes.

The new Condition Report also requires:

  • All taps and toilets must be checked at the beginning of each tenancy and any leaks fixed.
  • All toilets in rental properties must be dual flush with a minimum 3-star WELS rating.
  • Tenants to be given either 2 hard copies of the completed Condition Report or 1 electronic copy within 7 days of taking possession of the property.

2. The 23 March also saw the introduction of new smoke alarm obligations for all landlords. There are several changes you need to be aware of but importantly, landlords are required to ensure the smoke alarms in rented properties are in good working order. Penalties apply to any landlord who fails to comply with this requirement.

3. Tenants must now receive additional information about a property BEFORE signing a lease. This information includes:

  • If the property was used to manufacture a prohibited drug or cultivate a prohibited plant within the last 2 years.
  • If the landlord intends to sell the property or if a mortgagee (e.g. a bank) is taking legal action to reposes the property.
  • If the property is part of a strata scheme (e.g. an apartment or townhouse), tenants must receive a copy of the Strata By-laws. They must also be advised if any rectification works or major repairs to common property have been scheduled during the fixed term of the lease.

4. There is a new Standard Leasing Agreement which must be used from 23 March. The new Agreement reflects the changes to the rights and obligations between landlords and tenants and is designed to provide total transparency.

What has your property manager told you about the new tenancy reforms?

The changes to the NSW Residential Tenancy Reforms are extensive and in this article, we are only able to tell you about a few. As a Landlord, you need to know how these changes will affect your investment property and what you need to do to comply.

That’s why it’s important you know and understand your new obligations.

At Stills Properties, we provide our landlords with personalised information about how the new reforms will affect each of their investment properties. In fact, we believe it’s so important for you to understand your new obligations, we want you to ask yourself, has your current managing agent explained the changes to you?

If you think you deserve better service and more information from your property manager talk to us. Stills Properties have been looking after Sydney landlords for over 30 years. Call Brigitte on 1300 091 638 or email  propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


What happens if you want to sell an investment property?

What do you do if you want to sell your investment property – especially if you have a tenant living there? Here are our 4 key tips to help you and the tenant through a potentially rocky period.

Tip 1:  Plan it carefully

Selling any property should never be a spontaneous decision. It’s particularly true when you have a tenant. Remember, it’s their home. They are entitled to privacy. They also have the right to feel safe and secure.

We believe open communication and understanding are critical when you first advise a tenant that the property is being sold. That’s one of the reasons we have strong, positive relationships with all our tenants.

Tip 2:  Choose your sales agent carefully

If you want your tenant to keep your property looking good for every open, the selling agent must treat them well and follow legislative requirements. Otherwise, as the landlord, you could find yourself in trouble.

When one of our landlords decides to sell their investment property, we remain very involved in the process. We’ll often recommend they use sales agents we know will collaborate with us, and who will look after the best interests of both our landlord and the tenants.

Tip 3:  Stay or Go – The tenant has rights

Once a tenant has been advised of an upcoming sale, they can choose to cancel their lease as long as they follow their legal requirements. This means you’ll be losing rental income much sooner than you expected.

We recommend you try to ease the pain and inconvenience of opens by offering your tenant a generous rent reduction during the sales period. It means you may have a reduced rental income but at least you still have incoming rent to help offset your mortgage. Rental reductions also reward your tenants for keeping your property in good condition throughout the sales process.

Tip 4: Follow the tenancy legislation

There are all sorts of regulations regarding a tenant’s rights when selling the property. These include:

  • Providing correct notice prior to opens
  • Restrictions on promotional photography
  • Allowing tenants to terminate the lease if they wish
  • Remaining at the property during each open

As your property manager, we’ll ensure the selling agent respects and abides by the tenancy legislation as well as protecting the rights of your tenant.

A successful sale begins with tenant selection

Selling your investment property might seem improbable at the moment, but priorities change. That’s why we offer comprehensive property management services that take into consideration all aspects of leasing – from finding a great tenant to navigating the challenges when you decide to sell. After all, we’ve been managing Sydney properties for over 30 years.

For help to find great tenants for your investment property or for further information on the services we offer, call Brigitte Stills on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Why are some property management fees lower than others?

Property management fees can vary significantly. This makes it hard to know if you are receiving value for money or paying too much. Let’s look behind the scenes at what really happens at the lower end of the management fee scale and compare this to what you should expect.

What do lower fees really mean?

Lower property management fees mean the traditional practice of visiting properties, and knowing them well, are sacrificed. Instead, property managers are desk-bound administrators. This may not seem like a problem at first. But you should be concerned for several reasons:

  1. If the property manager doesn’t know your property well, they’re unable to identify any negligence caused by the tenant. When the current tenant moves out, you could be left with a hefty repair and maintenance bill before you can next lease your rental property. A long vacancy combined with repair costs can cause a big dent in your budget.
  2. Lower management fees require the managing agent to look after more properties to cover costs and make a living. With volume comes the challenge of remembering the details of each property, each landlord and each tenant. It also means it’s difficult to promptly attend to any issues with the property or the tenant. That’s why Stills Properties is a boutique property management agency. It gives us time to provide highly personalised and individual service because we know you and your property very well. It also gives us time to build good relationships with tenants. This leads to harmonious tenancies.
  3. With lower management fees comes outsourced routine property inspections. These are usually performed by different inspectors each time. This can be a problem because it means the inspector won’t know your property or the condition it was in when the lease commenced. Therefore, he or she is unable to identify any negligence caused by your tenant.

Management fee savings could be an illusion

While lower management fees can appear to save you money, it’s a risky strategy in the longer term due to:

  • A lack of knowledge of your property and its condition at the time the lease commenced
  • No-one to coach your tenant on how to care for your investment property
  • Property managers too overwhelmed by the size of their portfolio to attend to issues promptly
  • Outsourced property management services so no-one is accountable for protecting your investment

Easy tenancies take time and effort

Easy, stress-free tenancies happen when the property manager takes the time to build rapport with the tenant and know your property.

Having rapport with the tenant means the tenant trusts the managing agent. Then, if the tenant has an issue or accidently causes damage, they’ll advise the property manager so the problem can be promptly resolved. Likewise, if the tenant isn’t maintaining the property appropriately, the managing agent can coach them on what’s expected.

Stills Properties are a boutique property management agency who works closely with both landlords and tenants. It’s a formula for success that’s proven to maximise returns for landlords and create harmonious relationships with tenants. If you’re looking for an experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated property manager, contact Brigitte at Stills Properties. For more information or to discuss your property management requirements, call Brigitte Stills on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Nightmare Tenants: Why is Tenant Screening Important?

Everyone has heard nightmarish tales of bad landlords. But what about nightmare tenants?

Today, there are more people renting for longer periods than ever before. As property prices continue to rise, fewer people can afford to buy, which creates a large pool of long-term renters.

With more people renting for longer periods, it’s inevitable that landlords and property managers will encounter more problem tenants.

Thorough and proper tenant screening helps to stamp out problem tenants.

Avoiding Nightmare Tenants

Take Landlord A, for example, husband and wife investors. They liked the sound of Tenant A until they realised the tenant hoped to lease the property for his second wife, who had not yet been granted a Visa into the country.

Landlord B is a long-time investor with multiple properties. He rescinded Tenant B’s application only when he learned the tenant’s plan to advertise the other bedroom as short-term rental accommodation.

And Landlord C, based interstate, rejected Tenant C once their employment history and financial statements showed they couldn’t pay the rent.

Luckily, these landlords averted potentially nightmare tenant problems because they used the expert guidance of a qualified property manager.

While the Rental Application form gives the landlord some indication of whether the applicant is a worthy choice, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Stringent tenant screening and reference checking are the best defences against a nightmare tenant.

In the case of the above examples, the property manager’s thorough tenant screening process tells the rest of the story:

  • Tenant A – an in-person interview with the applicant quickly uncovered his true intentions.
  • Tenant B – previous rental history revealed prior evictions for similar conduct.
  • Tenant C – a quick call with current and previous employer’s and a review of recent bills and statement showed the applicant couldn’t afford the rent.

Professional tenant screening can save landlords untold anguish, both emotional and financial. Appoint an experienced property manager to ensure you avoid nightmare tenants and find the right tenant for your property.


How to manage your investment property over the Christmas break

With Christmas just around the corner, you’re probably looking forward to a well-deserved break. Trouble is, your property manager and tenants are probably doing the same. So how do you keep your investment property safe over the holidays?

Follow our 5 tips.

Tip 1: Be prepared and plan ahead

If your investment property has any plumbing or electrical problems, fix them NOW. Chances are, those niggling little concerns could become major problems when the only help at hand are emergency plumbers and electricians. Over Christmas, they’re hard to find and charge accordingly. Attending to them now could save you a lot of money and your tenants a lot of grief.

Tip 2:  Does your investment property have air conditioning?

Air conditioners must be serviced regularly to ensure they remain in good working order. Like plumbing and electrical problems, you don’t want the expense of emergency repairs over Christmas. Remember to clean filters at least once a year to help prolong their serviceable life and reduce repair costs.

Tip 3:  Does your property have a swimming pool?

If so, you must have an up-to-date Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance. In NSW, these Certificates are essential. They last 3 years but it’s important to ensure the pool gate and fencing are regularly checked. You are also required (by law) to have a resuscitation chart clearly visible.

Tip 4: Window locks are a legal requirement

Since March 2018, all strata buildings in NSW are required to have robust, child-proof window locks to restrict how far a window can be opened. This regulation applies to all windows that are 2m above the ground outside and 1.7m above the floor inside. The locks must prevent windows opening more than 12.5cm.

Tip 5:  Your tenant’s holiday plans

If your tenant has holiday plans, they need to advise your managing agent how long they will be away and provide their holiday contact details. While away, your tenants need to arrange for someone to regularly clear the mailbox. An overflowing letterbox is an advertisement the property is empty.

What’s your managing agent’s holiday plans?

Obviously, your managing agent is entitled to take a holiday but your investment property and tenants still need to be supervised – especially if the unexpected happens.

At Stills Properties, we ensure all tenants are provided with a list of emergency phone numbers for electrical and plumbing services. These trades have been working with us for years because they are reliable, highly trustworthy and ethical. We also keep on top of all property maintenance issues to minimise the need for any emergency call-outs.

Does your current property manager do this? If you don’t feel your investment property is getting the care it should, get in touch with Stills Properties on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au.