In a competitive market, your property needs to shine brighter than the rest. And by that we mean presentation, features and benefits.
Keep in mind that even the best tenant knows that the property is not their possession, so may not make the same effort to take care of it as you would. A tenant may not want to invest lots of time and effort into your property. A property that is “easy” to live in will be a big plus for a tenant.
- Choose low maintenance flooring such as tiles, vinyl or timber which are easy to clean. Good quality carpets should clean easily and wear well but cheaper carpets will show wear and tear quickly.
- Window coverings should be easy to use and easy to clean. For example, venetian blinds require fiddly dusting and the cords can be easily tangled, but roll up blinds are easier to open, close and clean.
- Keep garden maintenance to a minimum – the more there is to take care of, the more stretched the tenant will be trying to maintain it. Lots of plants, garden beds and lawns mean the tenant will need to spend a lot of time in the yard. If they decide it’s all too hard, they’ll just let it deteriorate. Many tenants may do an initial drive-by, so street appeal is important.
- Provide as much storage as possible. This may be in the form of adding built-in robes in bedrooms, pantry or laundry cupboards, or a garden shed for their lawn mower and tools.
- Furnished or unfurnished? Generally speaking, the majority of tenants will have their own furniture. There is a market for furnished properties, but it’s a niche market. Don’t be tempted to use your investment property as a dumping ground for your old furniture, unless it’s useable and in good condition. Dated and unmatched furniture looks exactly like that – dated and unmatched. It’s obvious that the property has become a storage facility for secondhand furniture and the presentation suffers. Also don’t be tempted to store grandma’s antique dresser in the house for safekeeping. The tenants won’t hold it in such high regard and there’s a chance you won’t get it back in the condition that you left it. We strongly recommend you remove everything that is not fixed to the property.
- Time for a thorough spring clean! Legislation dictates that the condition in which your tenant finds your property, is the same condition that they leave it when they eventually move out (excepting fair wear and tear – but we’ll come back to that). Consider investing in a professional bond clean. A good bond cleaner will be extremely thorough and clean in places that you didn’t even think of! Window tracks, tops of fan blades (the edges rust if left dusty), rangehood filters, exhaust fans and so on. Handing a tenant a thoroughly cleaned property means they have to return it in the same condition. They do not have to engage the services of a bond cleaner when they move out, but if they choose to clean it themselves they have to do as good a job. (Which then usually prompts them to hire a bond cleaner!)
- Make sure everything works. Again, legislation (get used to that word!) dictates that a property must be clean, in good repair and fit for a tenant to live in. Check every room in the house to ensure all the light bulbs, fans, air-conditioners or heaters work. Check that the oven and stove work. If, for example, you have advertised that the property includes extra features such as a dishwasher, then it has to be in good working order. And should it break down by no fault of the tenant, then it is your responsibility to get it fixed. This may include items such as:
- Refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer and other whitegoods
- Lawnmower, whipper snipper, garden hoses and other yard maintenance tools
- Swimming pool cleaning equipment
Should any damage be caused by the tenant, then it’s up to them to fix or replace the item. Don’t let this deter you however from providing these extra features. They can be a big selling point.
- Do you struggle to keep track of how many keys the property has, and which key fits which door or screen? Then so will the tenant. Consider investing some money into a locksmith and having all the doors and screens keyed alike. This means you will have one master key for all doors and one for all screens and avoids losing keys or trying to track how many keys you have given the tenant. Landlords are obliged to supply each tenant a copy of all keys for each lock that secures the premises, including any gates or access points. That’s a lot of keys if you have numerous doors and numerous tenants and increases the risk of them misplacing keys during the tenancy. In the event that keys are lost, it is then recommended to change the locks.