20 March 2015 5 quick tips for managing your property Once you’ve made the big step and purchased that investment property, there are a few handy things you should know about maintaining real estate and tenants. 1. Take time choosing the right tenants Finding the right tenants can be the difference between a rental breeze and a rental nightmare. So make sure you take the time to conduct a thorough screen check of everything from their previous rental records to employer references to avoid a high risk tenant that you’ll have to chase for rent (or even evict). If you don’t have the time or inclination, get a property management service to do the hard work but keep in mind you’ll have to pay an ongoing fee. 2. Know the tenancy laws Whether you decide to get a property manager or do everything yourself, it’s wise to know something about the applicable laws concerning: Leasing and eviction Repairs and maintenance Bonds, locks and securities. This knowledge can help you decide and act decisively when issues arise. You’ll find them especially important if you have to evict a tenant, due to late payment or property damage. Renters won’t always leave silently or quickly and some tenants may appeal an eviction decision, so read up on the legal process for your State or Territory, such as written notice period and all the other ensuing procedures. 3. Purchase landlords’ insurance There are a few handy things you should consider about maintaining real estate. Tenants are unlikely to take care of your property the way you would, and nor are they expected to. But you can protect yourself from the unexpected by taking out landlords’ insurance, which usually covers things like theft by your tenant, damage to fixtures and fittings and rent default. Make sure to compare different policies by getting a range of quotes from several insurance companies. If your property is in an area prone to natural disasters – like floods or fire – a standard insurance policy may not cover such events fully, so always check before signing on the dotted line. 4. Renegotiate rent If you’ve got great tenants renting your property you may not want to rock the boat by increasing the rent - but have you considered yearly inflation? After the lease period has come to an end (usually 6 to 12 months) evaluate rental prices in your area and consider increasing the rent to meet the market. Of course, you’ll have to consider the demand in your area because increasing the rent in a topped out area will be much easier than increasing it in a quiet town with little movement in the property market. 5. Keep the property in top-notch shape Tenants will be more inclined to keep renting from you and even more receptive to a rental lift if you treat them well by keeping the property in good shape and performing maintenance in an efficient and timely manner. If you’re using a property manager, they’ll have tradespeople on hand (or at call) to fix any maintenance issues that arise. Also, make sure you conduct regular inspections to ensure your property remains in top-notch shape.