A guide to renting your investment property
GKM Property Management
Guy Elliott & Kathryn Lipsett
in 6 simple steps
Choosing to have your property professionally managed is a big commitment. Whether it’s your first property, the family home or part of a growing investment portfolio, we know how important it is for you to know your asset is being looked after to the highest standard.
Finding you a Tenant
We understand how important your property investment is and we make it our goal to identify what this means for you and we will help you find the right tenant who will make your property their home.
Taking your property to market
Our key objective is to get as many quality applications as possible and in doing this create the maximum amount of competition for your property. This ensures you receive the best possible return on your investment for that moment in time.
We put a strong focus on securing the highest quality tenants for our landlords through
the use of proven marketing techniques and rigorous tenant selection procedures. This includes promoting your property through the following marketing channels:
Advertising your property online allows us to reach potential tenants on a 24/7 basis.
Furthermore, if a current tenant gives notice to vacate we are able to display your property almost immediately, maximising exposure to the market and minimising vacancy periods for our landlords.
Your rental advert is promoted through the following sites:
We ensure the details of any high quality applicants are kept and added to a prospective tenant database so when a new property becomes available a tenant and property can be matched immediately. By having access
to a prospective tenant database, we ensure consistently tenanted properties and vacancy periods that are kept to a minimum.
Getting your property ready to lease
We know first impressions count. Properties need to be presented in the best possible light in order for us to help investors secure the best quality tenant and give you the maximum rental return. A well presented property is likely to attract tenants who are house-proud and will keep the investment in good condition.
We provide you our valued investor with advice and guidance to identify improvements that can help a property really stand out against others in the market and can go a long way in attracting tenants who’ll respect it like their own.
The Residential Tenancies Act requires that a property must be ‘clean, fit to live in and in good repair’. This, however can mean vastly different things to different people. We hold
our investors to high standards and recommend that properties be professionally cleaned before being presented to the marketplace, with the aim of achieving a greater outcome in the long run.
We ask that investors take into account the following questions when considering leasing your investment property.
Does the property meet the expectations of the market?
Think about how your investment property compares to those currently available and how this aligns with your own price expectations. Do the features and benefits of your property stack up against the competition and market for the area in which it’s placed? Are all appliances, fittings, fixtures and chattels in good working order?
Possibly one of the greatest areas of surprise for new landlords is the amount of maintenance required during the initial stages of a tenancy, often due to a lack of experience and understanding of what’s required. Any chattel provided with the property when rented must be in working order.
These can include, but are not limited to, such things as: oven, dishwasher, fridge, door handles, window handles, garage doors, taps, wardrobe doors, alarms, drainage, clotheslines, light-bulbs, keys, remotes - the list goes on.
Ensuring this is done prior to the start of a tenancy will not only save time but will assist in securing the right tenant in the shortest possible time, and of course this saves you money.
Are the grounds and gardens well maintained?
Unless otherwise stated, general lawn and garden maintenance is the tenant’s responsibility, however ensuring these are well maintained for the initial viewing process sets the right expectations for the prospective tenant and will ensure that your initial inspection report and photos show how the grounds and gardens must be left at the end of the tenancy.
We assist our investors by providing advice and help you to engage reliable quality tradespeople to help pave the way for a smooth tenancy from day one.
We combine years of experience with proven processes to find the most suitable tenancy for our investors.
Effective marketing of your property
Open for inspections and welcoming prospective tenants
Verification of applications
Discuss the applications with you to help you make the right choice for your property
Share the good news with your new tenant
Finalise the paperwork
Welcome the tenants to their new home
Every application we receive is reviewed quickly and decisively. As a necessary precaution we also check our applications against various national tenancy databases, this helps us ensure that we are selecting the right tenant for your investment property. In our opinion, the benefit of discovering a potential tenant’s official rental history, bankruptcies, court judgements and other information up front far outweigh the small cost that is charged for these services.At this point all new tenants will be armed with all the information they need – starting with where and how to pay their rent and from what date. We ensure that they know how to contact us about repairs and maintenance, and sit with them during our lease sign up process and explain to them their obligations and responsibilities throughout their tenancy
Looking inside a tenancy agreement
Terms of tenancy
A fixed term lease provides landlords and tenants with the most security and helps to ensure that rent payment commitments are met. We work closely with investors to ensure strategic consideration is given to when a term ends; assessing the local market demographic and trends and taking care to avoid slow rental periods that could potentially increase the days on market for your property.
Setting and reviewing rent
Property investment can be very price sensitive and a small difference can affect the number of enquiries a property receives. We work closely with our investors to identify their goals in the immediate and long term because we know the importance of getting this right from the start. We conduct thorough market analysis to help us understand the current market rate of similar properties in the local area and assess each property to understand its value and potential.
If a stable rental yield is the goal, then a slightly lower rent might give the peace of mind of a secure tenancy long term. However, we strive to communicate with all our investors openly and honestly whether our recommendation
is to increase, decrease or maintain their rent. We have our investor’s best interest at heart and will always provide the very best advice when it comes to the future of their tenancy. By maintaining a strong knowledge of the market and performing regular market analysis, we can help investors ensure the rental rate remains competitive but fair.
The end of tenancy
When we receive notification that a tenant wishes to vacate a property we will confirm all details in writing for our landlords, and outline for you the next steps to ensure the property is tenanted as quickly as possible.
Properties will be listed as available for rent immediately unless you advise us otherwise.
We will also take care of all the necessary end of tenancy documentation and will collaborate with existing tenants when scheduling property viewings if needed. A vacating or
‘final inspection’ will be carried out to ensure your property has been left in good condition. We will be inspecting the property for any damages and identify areas that are deemed fair wear and tear for which a tenant cannot be held liable.
Once the tenants vacate and the final inspection has been completed we will ensure that the bond refund is processed promptly and any final deductions for outstanding rent, utilities or damage are recovered for you.
Common examples of wear and tear:
Faded curtains or frayed cords
Furniture indentations and traffic marks on carpets
Scuffed wooden floors
Faded or cracked paint
Loose hinges or handles on doors or windows and worn sliding tracks
Cracks in the walls from building movement
Small chips and scuff marks on skirting and door frames
Paint faded or discolouring over time
Examples of the types of damages that tenants may be liable for:
Missing, damaged or torn curtains - either caused by the tenant or their pet/s
Tears, stains or burn marks on carpet
Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors
Unapproved paint jobs or large areas of damage e.g. from posters being ripped off walls
Broken window glass e.g. from a child hitting a ball at the window
Holes in the walls left by tenants removing picture hooks or shelves they have installed
Water stains on the carpet caused by overflowing bath or indoor pot plants
Looking after you and your tenants
Good tenants are valuable and we know the importance of looking after a good tenant to help protect your property and minimise vacancy.
The initial inspection
We provide carry out a detailed Entry
Condition Report, completed on the statutory form, promptly before the tenants move into a property. This report includes photographs to make sure the condition of the property is accurately recorded for future reference. It’s an extra reassurance for investors to have a solid record of the property should a dispute ever arise.
A schedule of routine inspections allows us to inspect the property regularly and keep an eye on any repairs or maintenance required that could increase the potential rental income of the property and make sure it remains safe for tenants to live in for the duration of their tenancy. We conduct inspections in the first three months of a tenancy this then allows us to set our the future inspection schedules as per legislation and your instructions.
Regular inspections help to minimise risk and raise awareness of the condition of the property and identify any potential hazards. However, there are some instances where identifying serious risk factors can only be accurately done by an experienced and certified inspector who specialise in areas such as key home safety issues, swimming pool compliance, pest control and smoke alarm systems.
Prevention is better than cure. Which is why we recommend that all investors consider getting their property professionally inspected so that they can be sure to hand over a safe, secure and healthy home for their tenants and potentially save money and heartache in the process.
We recommend getting a specialist inspector to check for the follow hazards.
Key home safety issues including:
Slip, trip and fall hazards
Safety switch and electrical hazards
Building and glass hazards
Hot water, fireplace, gas and fixed heating hazards
Internal stairs and balustrades and external balconies, decks and stairs
Persistent moisture and mould
Large trees or shrub hazards
Legislative maintenance requirements
The Federal and State Government over the last few years have introduced legislation into our industry that requires landlords and tenants to comply with statutory laws. As your industry expert we must ensure that you remain compliant and that your tenants remain safe. These laws require us to engage the services of licensed tradespeople to undertake, monitor and service the particular areas.
These areas are:
Smoke alarm servicing
Blind cord compliance
Water efficiency certificate
Pool and spa safety
Taking care of your investment
The way a property is managed can have a big affect on your bottom line.
We know the value of identifying areas for capital improvement, taking preventative measures against serious damage and acting fast when required not just for the state of the property, but to ensure we keep tenants safe and happy. All maintenance and repairs are handled promptly and professionally and only engage qualified, licensed tradespeople
to keep your asset in top condition.
About our tradies
GKM have a list of tradespeople and suppliers that has been honed over many years of working in each local area.
We regularly assess their service and only work with the very best. Before we appoint a contractor, we get a copy of their licences,
insurance and certificates and confirm their pricing is competitive.
GKM will always check the work has been completed before matching and processing invoices to original quotes.
Repairs and maintenance
Providing ongoing care and maintenance to a property is in everyone’s best interest.
If a property is kept in good condition it’s then a matter of maintenance, but once it falls into disrepair then it can be much more costly to bring back to life.
GKM will act quickly but will never proceed with non-urgent repairs without communicating with our investors first.
Top 10 tips for adding value to your investment
We know the importance of effectively maintaining a property to ensure the best possible rental returns and ensuring long term capital gains for our investors. There are some areas where your money may be better spent to prevent overcapitalising on your investment and these include the following:
New cupboard doors and handles can transform a kitchen and it’s a relatively inexpensive way to give the whole room a fresh modern makeover. Colour can also date a kitchen so consider repainting or re-lacquering cupboards to freshen the look.
Fitting new and matching tapware throughout will benefit the look of a property and is a simple way to modernise a dated home.
Consider re-grouting tiled areas or use a grout pen to fix any discoloured areas. Also, think about ventilation such as a fan, widnow stays to allow secure openings or a shower done to prevent buildup of moisture.
4. Paint & carpet
Giving your property a lick of paint and replacing old carpet can instantly lift its mood and look. A contemporary colour palette brings a sense of modernism and can increase the potential tenant pool, as well as the asking price. Even just thoroughly cleaning walls, skirting boards and doors and getting old carpets steam cleaned can brighten the look of a tired home.
5. Gardens & outdoor areas
Invest the time to ensure all the gardens are in a tidy state and are low-maintenance, where possible, for future tenants. Use a high pressure hose to give all pathways and paintwork a good clean and improve their overall appearance.
6. Light switches
Replacing old light switches is a cost effective and easy way to refresh the look of your property and can also help prevent further maintenance issues in the future.
7. Window treatments
Curtains or blinds are another area which reflect the era of a property and can easily date a home. If replacing the window treatments think about the long term functionality and look at using options that are hard wearing and easy to replace in the future if necessary e.g. Venetian blinds and associated cords can often break, leading to costly repairs as well as being a health hazard for children.
First impressions can heavily influence a tenant’s decision to rent a home as well as what they are willing to pay. Look at the entrance to your investment property and whether or not this could be improved with minor expenditure e.g. security lighting, painting the door, flower pots, letterbox etc.
Great lighting will improve the way a property looks and feels for a tenant. Modern lighting can dramatically change the look of an older property as well as helping prevent any maintenance needed on older lighting systems during the future of the tenancy.
Consider installing a burglar alarm or similar security devices. Window locks are essential in ensuring that the property is secure. Your tenants will have contents insurance and their insurance company will want to know that the property can be secured. Occupants want to feel safe in any property that they’re renting and this adds huge appeal for family tenants as well as increasing the chances of you getting the best possible rental return.
Maintaining and maximising your returns
Getting rent paid on time
Ensuring that your tenant pays their rent on time is one of the most important roles we play. We understand your investment is a business transaction and loss of income can cause you not only financial strain but personal stress.
We have a zero tolerance policy for rent arrears and do not tolerate late or missed payments by our tenants. This policy is carefully explained to all tenants at the start of the tenancy to avoid any misunderstandings that may arise at a later date.
All initial rent payments are due prior to the start of the tenancy, with automatic payments being the most common method to ensure the security and timing of each and every future rental payment.
End of a tenancy and bond
When our tenants vacate a property we complete a detailed final inspection prior to any bond being released back to the tenant. Our property investment managers will compare findings against the entry condition report and provide investors with advice in the event of possible disputes, changes or damages that need to be rectified. If there are any discrepancies, other than fair wear and tear, we make it our priority to protect your interests and enter a claim against the bond as quickly as possible.
Equipping you as a landlord
We know the Residential Tenancy Act inside and out so investors don’t have to.
Once a property goes to market for lease, it’s no longer just a working investment but also someone’s home.
We work closely with our landlords to find the ideal balance between maximising their return on investment, minimising risk and providing a safe, comfortable and enjoyable home for tenants. It’s what we do best and where we can provide investors with the most value.
Our years of experience mean we know where investors and tenants are open to risk and can provide guidance on how to minimise it.
Avoid late payments
Our carefully designed processes and guidelines are thoroughly explained at the start of each tenancy to make sure every tenant understands the full terms of their lease agreement and our expectations when it comes to paying rent on time every time. We make it clear to tenants exactly what they can expect to happen if they break any of the terms of their agreement.
All of our landlords are notified immediately if a tenant is in arrears as standard. If a tenant falls into arrears, our property investment managers are trained take the action.
Keeping your property protected
Having Insurances on your property is not only a requirement for us to manage the property but also essential to help protect you from risk.
No matter how strict the screening processes are, there’s never a guarantee that things can’t go wrong. That is where Landlord Insurances and Building Insurances come in. Whilst any malicious damage is communicated to investors immediately, this is so insurance companies can be notified and a you can lodge your claim.
In the event that this is considered the responsibility of either an occupant or third party our property investment managers will take photographs and notify the police immediately. They’ll be able to share the police report and event number with investors as soon as possible and keep full file notes to support any claims.
Tribunal process and representation
Sometimes mediation and Tenancy Tribunal hearings are unavoidable. GKM are well versed in local laws and trained to avoid the pitfalls
of property management to help ensure your investment is better protected. We can represent our investors at Tribunal hearings and have access to specialist legal advice and technical support courtesy of GKM.
A landlord’s obligations
As a landlord, there are rules and regulations you need to know about, such as:
Obligations and responsibilities of a landlord
A landlord needs to:
Provide the premises in a reasonably clean and tidy state
Keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair
Comply with all building and health and safety requirements relating to the property
Not interfere with the supply of gas, power, water, telephone services, or other services to the premises, unless it is necessary for maintenance or repair, or to prevent danger
Make sure all locks are working and correct keys are provided to the tenants the property is reasonably secure
During the tenancy, a landlord must:
Compensate the tenant for serious and urgent repairs that the tenant has had done, if the damage was not the tenant’s fault and the tenant made a reasonable attempt to contact landlord about the repairs
Give the tenant at least 24 hours notice and visit between 8am and 5pm if you need to do any repairs or maintenance
Give the tenant a reasonable amount of notice, ask for the tenant’s permission and visit at a reasonable hour if wanting to show a prospective buyer, tenant or registered valuer through the premises
Not use force, or threat of force, to enter or attempt to enter the premises while the tenant or anyone else is on the premises – it’s an offence to do so
Give at least 7 days written notice of any routine inspection of the property
Not unreasonably refuse to allow a tenant to put up fixtures such as shelves
Obligations and responsibilities of a tenant
A tenant needs to:
Pay the rent on time
Make sure the property is occupied principally for living purposes
Pay the power, gas, telephone charges
Keep the property reasonably clean and tidy
Notify the landlord as soon as possible after discovery of any damage to the premises, or of the need for any repairs
Fix any damage they or their visitors cause on purpose or by being careless, or pay for someone to fix it
Pay water usage charges as required by state regulation
During the tenancy, a tenant must:
Prevent any intentional or careless damage the premise
Not use the premises, or permit the premises to be used for any illegal purpose
Not disturb the neighbours
Make sure there are no more people living in the premises than what is specified in the tenancy agreement
Not change the locks, attach fixtures or make any renovations, alterations or additions to the property unless it’s in the agreement or allowed with written permission from the landlor
Remove all personal items from the property upon vacatin
Leave the premises clean & tidy at the end of the tenancy, and remove all rubbish. Do not leave items behind for road side collection
Return all keys to the Property Manager at the end of the tenancy that were initially provided
Leave any personal items or pieces of furniture provided by the landlord
Frequently asked questions
I want to view my property but it’s currently tenanted. When can I see it?
A property owner or property manager can enter the property at any stage. The tenant must be given written notice before entering the premises. Access is subject to the legislation in your state or territory. The reason for entry must first be established, then the period of notice in writing can be provided to the tenant.
What happens if a repair is required after hours, or on weekends?
Our policy on what constitutes an emergency repair and what does not is conveyed to all of our tenants at the beginning of the tenancy, in the Tenancy Agreement.
All tenants are provided with mobile numbers and after hours contact details if emergencies arise.
Your Property Manager will use fair judgement and caution to make sure our obligations to the tenant are being met and your wishes are respected.
What do you explain to the tenant before they move into the property?
We go through the most important expectations with our tenants as part of our tenant induction process such as...
Rend Payment dates and methods
Rent arrears policy
What to do in an emergency repair situation, who to contact etc.
General repairs and maintenance requests
How often routine inspections will occur and what we look for
General expectations during a tenancy and the law
The properties utilities, which are the tenants responsibility and which are the landlords.
Who is responsible for garden maintenance?
There are no references to responsibilities for garden and lawn maintenance in the Acts however it is a general responsibility of tenants to maintain gardens and lawns however pruning of trees and hedges or other large maintenance jobs are to be maintained by the Landlord.
If there is not an agreement of a regular maintenance paid by the landlord, it is best to include a provision in the tenancy agreement that it will be the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the lawns and gardens. We advise that in properties with large gardens or those that require
more maintenance than usual, landlords should consider the option of maintaining this as a part of the weekly rent to make sure standards are kept at an acceptable level long term.
Can you guarantee the tenant?
We can never guarantee a long and happy tenancy however we do have an extensive application process which covers the applicant’s tenancy history, listings on tenancy databases and personal references. We also speak with each applicant’s employer to ascertain their level of commitment and responsibility as well as income confirmation. We will provide you with as much information as we can about an applicant so you can make a decision without having any doubts. In saying that, the paying of rent and maintaining of the property is an obligation for the tenant. The State and Territory laws govern how an agency must act in relation to tenants that do not fulfill these obligations and hence we cannot guarantee a perfect tenancy. This is a landlord risk that comes with allowing someone else to rent your property.
Do I need Insurance?
Although it’s not a legal requirement, we advise all landlords to have comprehensive insurance to cover both your property and the tenancy, as these are often two different policies. It’s important for landlords to insure chattels such as carpets, blinds and curtains, stove and other white goods that a tenant may be using, and to maintain a current insurance certificate if your property has a chimney.
Always remember to tell your insurance company the property is tenanted to ensure you’re covered.
GKM can give you brochures regarding comprehensive landlord insurance so please contact us directly if you’d like these. There are many insurance options on the market and we recommend you get independent advice to find the policy right for you.
Who’s responsible for mould?
Mould in rental properties is a common issue throughout Australia and it is a Landlord’s responsibility to rid properties of mould prior to any tenancy beginning. Properties should include security catches on windows so that the house can be aired, and it’s also a good idea to provide a fan in all
bathrooms to allow for adequate ventilation. It is advised that exhaust fans should be installed in bathrooms or flyscreens on windows to allow tenants option to ventilate
the room as this is a room that sees daily moisture. Mould can be a serious health and safety problem so it is best to keep a regular treatment schedule if your property is prone.
Where the water supply is from a tank, the Landlord should provide a full tank at the start of the tenancy and the tenant then pays for all water consumed during the tenancy and is
also required to leave the tank full at the end of the tenancy.
How long will you take to rent out my property?
The length of time it takes to tenant your property will largely come down to market demand at the time, the current condition of your property, and an effective marketing and pricing strategy.
Your Property Manager will do everything in their power to minimise your vacancy period and aim to secure a new tenant for your property as quickly as possible. They will also provide you with regular feedback every step of the process.
What happens if a tenant misses a rent payment?
Each day your Property Manager prints an arrears report, which instantly highlights any tenant whose payment has not been received.
The arrears policy then kicks in, which typically involves immediate contact with the tenant to find out why the payment is late, and constant communication until the debt is paid. This might also include the sending of a Notice to Remedy for arrears, and the lodgement of a Tenancy
Tribunal case if the arrears are in excess and are not cleared immediately.
How often can my rent be increased?
If the fixed term of the tenancy has expired, the property manager can increase the rent to market value. Your Property Manager will advise of a suitable rental figure before any new advertising begins, and is also responsible for regular rent reviews on existing tenancies to ensure your return is always maximised.
Are pets allowed in my property?
You can choose whether pets are allowed in your property.
If permission is granted to keep a pet at the property your Property Manager will make sure only agreed pets live there and is removed if it becomes bothersome and affects the quiet peace. The tenant is responsible for any damage caused by their pet.
Who’s responsible for pest control?
Depending on the circumstances and level of infestation, the landlord needs to provide adequate pest control services either by providing the appropriate bait or employing the services of a pest control company. In the case where a tenant has likely caused or influenced an infestation, your Property Manager will seek the cost back from the tenant however this situation is best assessed on a case by case basis and needs to be proven in order to claim back any compensation.