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

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.

Real Estate on the Radio – Festive Edition

Brigitte Stills returns with a festive edition of her Real Estate segment on Northside Radio 99.3FM next Monday – 9th December – between 9.30 – 10am.

  • Investors – is your property ready for the Christmas and New Year break?  Now is the time to ensure any outstanding repairs and maintenance is carried out, before your Agent disappears on holiday. 
  • Buyers – if you’re looking to buy an investment property, make sure you’re discussing your plans with a reputable Property Manager before you buy. Get the inside knowledge of what’s hot, and what’s not. The right rental market advice can help prevent expensive mistakes and difficult to rent purchases.
  • Sellers – thinking of selling in the New Year?  When is the right time?  First quarter?  Second quarter?  When?  Talking to a real estate professional early on lets you plan your strategy with confidence and in good time to achieve your goal.

Brigitte Stills of Stills Properties brings over 38 years of real estate and property management experience to dispensing her advice on these topics and responding to listener questions on Sydney Real Estate.

Send your questions in beforehand (time-constraints prevent us taking queries live on air), to:

Settle back with a mix of music and real estate on 99.3FM then have yourself a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

4 things commercial landlords must know

Commercial properties are an attractive investment option for private investors. While commercial properties typically yield high rental returns with long tenancies, there are several things landlords must know to ensure they make the most out of their investment.

1.Commercial lease differences

If you own a residential investment property you may be surprised to know there are some key differences between commercial and residential leases. Commercial leases:

  • tend to be more involved and complex than residential leases
  • are longer than residential tenancies; usually three to five years with one or two option terms of three to five years each depending on the space of the building
  • have a minimum and maximum lease term which can be negotiated by both parties
  • are harder to break than residential agreements
  • include annual rent reviews and increases
  • have the tenant pay for all outgoings, including rates, taxes, levies, water and utilities
  • have the tenant pay for all outgoings, including rates, taxes, levies, water and utilities
  • are negotiated between landlord and tenant to equally benefit both parties.

2. Lease Agreement

The lease agreement is a legal document clearly outlining the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. Everything should be spelled out in the terms of the lease agreement to avoid confusion during the tenancy and ensure maximum protection for both parties.

The lease agreement should include:

  • rent amount and how it is calculated
  • rent increases and when they will occur; increases are typically determined by a fixed price (expressed as a percentage), market review or Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • outgoings (rates, taxes, levies, water and utilities)
  • lease start date and duration
  • option rights for extension or renewal
  • cost and responsibility repairs, maintenance and costs
  • sign-on incentives
  • fit-out responsibilities, approvals and expenses
  • allowable improvements
  • option to assign a lease (tenant transfers the lease to a new tenant)
  • make good provisions at end of lease (return property to its original state)
  • breaking the lease (ending an agreement early) and associated fees
  • security bond, either bank guarantee or personal guarantee
  • payment of landlord fees

Each state and territory have specific legislation on commercial and retail leases. You should seek advice from a commercial lawyer before drafting your commercial lease agreement.

3. Landlord responsibilities

As a commercial landlord, it’s essential you understand your main responsibilities before negotiating the terms of the lease agreement.

In most commercial leases the tenant is responsible for the interior of the rented premises, which includes the fit-out and repairs and maintenance of walls, floors, fixtures and inclusions throughout the lease term.

As the landlord, the exterior condition and structural integrity of the property is your responsibility, including repairs and maintenance of all structural aspects of the building. You must make sure the property is fit-for-purpose, meaning it suits the nature of the tenant’s intended business operations. And, you must ensure the tenant’s operations won’t impact the local area.

Additionally, your property must have adequate building insurance, comply with building codes and meet health and safety standards. Rates and body corporate fees must be current when the lease is signed and gas and electrical safety certified.

4. Ideal tenants

Like residential property investments, securing the right commercial tenant is key to maximising your rental return. Responsible and profitable tenants that pay on time and are a good, long-term fit for your premises are also key to your success as a commercial landlord. But finding potential tenants and appealing to their specific business needs can be challenging.

Local, experienced and well-networked commercial agents are best placed to introduce ideal tenants, identify any red flags, negotiate the terms of the agreement and help you fill your commercial space – allowing you to get on with building your property investment portfolio.

Need more information?

Stills Properties has been managing investment properties for Sydney landlords for over 30 years, contact us to discuss your investment property management needs.