Buying an investment property is a huge step, but it's only part of the journey and there are a few more steps that have to be taken before you can put up the 'For Lease' sign up outside.
Apart from the obvious like making sure appliances and systems are in good working order and that the property presents well, there are also very important legislative requirements which minimise the risk to both tenants and investors. All of these issues need to be in place prior to a lease being signed, and whilst some people are more than happy to handle the 'to-do' list on their own, others find that it's really helpful to engage the services of a local property management company which has the know-how and the resources to facilitate and expedite the process.
So, if you've just bought your first investment property and want to know what lies ahead - here are some important points to note to ensure your property is 'rent-ready'.
It goes without saying that well-maintained properties attract a higher calibre tenant and will attract higher rental rates - which translates into a better return on investment. Routine cosmetic maintenance such as fresh coat of paint, a carpet clean and sprucing up the garden are all aspects that will contribute to ensuring that your property has a quality appearance - inside and out.
Have you checked that all electrical appliances (e.g. ovens and stoves which are a mandatory inclusion in rental properties in West Australia) and all systems (e.g. hot water systems, air conditioning etc) are in good working order? It's really worth installing appropriate water saving devices on taps and showers and checking for any little leaks, such as a dripping geyser outlet pipe or a garden tap that doesn't close properly, as those can all add up to a nasty surprise when the bill from the water company arrives.
It's your responsibility to ensure that the property is adequately secured, so you will need to ensure that the locks on all the doors are fully functional and that the keys are all clearly marked and accounted for.
When it comes to swimming pools or spas that contain water over 300mm in depth, council regulations stipulate that they have to have a compliant barrier installed and that owners and occupiers are responsible for ensuring that the barrier is maintained and operating effectively.
Property owners are also legally responsible for the installation of appropriate smoke alarms, and again, you will need to make sure that if your investment property already has a smoke detector, that it complies with regulations. For example, battery operated smoke detectors are no longer OK - they need to be hardwired and installations have to be done by a licensed electrician.
Give the garden a once-over, trimming hedges, cutting back any overgrown shrubs and trees, ensuring beds are weed free and removing any accumulated debris.
It's up to the landlord to make sure that all the electrical systems on the property comply with the latest government regulations. For example, every rental property in Australia has to be fitted with an electrical safety switch which will 'trip' the power if a problem is detected. It is important to remember that legislation and council regulations can vary from state to state so if you have any doubt, it's a good idea to contact a property management company in your area for professional advice.
Before leasing your property, it's a good idea to have it inspected for pests such as termites and cockroaches and if need be, sprayed. This is not only an added benefit for tenants but is also an added layer of protection for your asset.
Insurance for a rental property differs from standard house and contents insurance for a primary residence, so you will need to work out the most appropriate and cost-effective cover with your insurance company.
Your investment property can be a profitable asset and there are a number of things that you can do to maximise your investment, but it is equally important for you to understand your obligations as a landlord.
If you're unsure of what your obligations are or you'd like to find out more about how to prepare a property for rental, have a look at www.timeconti.com.au where you'll find a wealth of information on all aspects of property management. Time Conti Sheffield have been in the property