Monday, November 19, 2012

Safe house-Protecting your Investment Property

Keeping your investment property secure is not just a matter of feeling your property is protected it’s the law to provide adequate security for your tenant. Below is a range of options for home security that you may consider for your investment property.
First line of defence
While alarms are great, you should think about preventing burglars getting into your home in the first place. Most break-ins occur through a door, so the key to good security is a good lock. A keyed entrance set gives minimal security. A step up is a night latch, but deadlocks and dead latches provide more security. (Better Homes & Gardens, 2012)
Window locks & Screens
In an investment property you need to ensure your windows are secure for a tenant, they do not need to be key locked but they you need to make sure from a shut position they cannot be opened. Window screens are also a great way to secure your property from potential intruders when the window is open. There are many types of windows in various materials, such as timber, aluminium, PVC and steel, and they all work differently and need different locks to secure them.
Security screens
A second line of defence at any entrance is a security screen door. It should comply with the requirements of Australian Standard 5039-2003, while AS 5040 specifies how it should be installed. Security screen doors are ideal for the front and back main doors; they can keep the property safe and can be locked if the main doors are open. A security screen door allows you to safely see out, while stopping unwanted people from getting in. It also provides ventilation and lets cooling breezes into your home. (Better Homes & Gardens, 2012)
Door locks
1. Night latch Night latches are surface-mounted and not lockable on the inside, so you can easily get out of the house in an emergency. But a burglar can also open the door from the inside once they’re in.
2. Deadlatch and deadbolt A deadlatch, such as the Whitco Deadlatch (about $80), is similar to a night latch but is keyed on the inside. This means a thief needs keys to get out of the door. But the key also needs to stay in the lock at night in case of fire, unless the deadlatch has an emergency release. A deadbolt fits inside the door, with the bolt thrown by a key inside and out.
3. Deadlock A deadlock, like the Lockwood 355 Deadlock (about $140), is similar to a deadlatch, but the lock engages with the keeper, so it also works on sliding and double-opening doors. And when locked, the lock and keeper can’t be separated.
If you are unfortunate enough to have intruders actually get into your home, your next defence is an alarm (or a hungry Rottweiler). Alarms range from basic beepers to sophisticated multi-thousand-dollar systems that alert a base station. But, you can make a loud noise with an inexpensive system.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Swimming pools

Legal requirements:
Swimming pool safety
As a swimming pool or spa owner you are responsible for safety.
Drowning is the biggest cause of accidental death for young children.  Most occur in private backyard swimming pools. You can reduce the risk of accidents occurring in your swimming pool by adequately fencing your pool and ensuring young children are supervised at all times.
In a life-threatening or urgent situation phone the emergency services on 000.
All swimming pools must have a continuous safety barrier maintained by the pool owner that restricts access by young children to the pool.

If you are a property owner and are 
selling a property with a pool built before July 1993 you must make sure that the safety barrier meets todays standard for new pools.

Fencing must be constructed in such a way to make sure that:
·         the outside of the fence is an effective barrier to young children
·         it is permanent
·         young children can't crawl under or climb over it by using foot and hand holds
·         it is at least 1.2 metres high
·         any boundary fences used as part of the child-safety barrier are at least 1.8 metres high on either side with a 900mm non-climbable zone. The non-climable zone may be located at the top inside of the boundary fence if the fence is at least 1.8 metres high on the inside.
Gates to the pool area must:
·         swing outward from the pool area
·         be self closing from any position
·         be fitted with a latching device out of reach of small children at least 1.5m above ground level.
Hard covers on spas 
Child resistant hard covers cannot be used as safety barriers in place of a fence for above-ground spa pools because:
·         there are no current regulatory standards for spa pool covers
·         when the cover is off the spa pool there is no barrier.
In-ground or above-ground swimming pools and spas must have a water recirculation and filtration system that complies with Australian standards  . This is to reduce the risk of a young child being trapped by suction.
(OCBA, 2012)

Salt vs. Chlorine:
Salt Water Pools Cost Less
Salt water pools cost less than chlorine pools. Chlorine pools require the addition of chlorine tablets to the water, and these tablets can cost upwards of $60 or more per bucket. The use of chlorine tablets is essential to the cleanliness of a chlorine pool. While it may seem that chlorine pools would be more sanitary than salt water pools, this is not the case. Salt water pools use an electrical charge to split the salt into sodium and chloride. This electrical system basically creates chlorine by changing the chloride into a gas, which then dissolves into the pool's water. Through this process, the pool is sanitized without the addition of chlorine tablets.
Salt Water is More Comfortable
Chlorine water can be irritating to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin, and it can also be offensive to the senses because of its strong odour. Furthermore, chlorine can be an ear and respiratory system irritant as well. Because salt water pools do not require the addition of chlorine tablets, the pH of a salt water pool is increased. This translates into water that does not irritate the skin or cause burning, itching, or drying. Swimming in salt water pools Brisbane is more comfortable, and the chlorine odour is reduced dramatically.
Salt Water Pools Require Less Maintenance
Homeowners can spend less time making efforts to maintain their pool and more time enjoying it when they choose a salt water pool versus a chlorine pool. Because the pool's electrical system supplies the water with chlorine, homeowners do not have to worry about routinely adding chlorine tablets to the water. Salt will need to be added to the water from time to time, but the comprehensive care required of a salt water pool is minimal compared to a chlorine pool.
(John Clarkes pools & renovations, 2012)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Keeping it in the family- Should you rent to family or friends?

There seems to also be a lot of controversy around renting to family or friends and everybody has an opinion on whether or not it’s a good idea. There can be benefits and disadvantages to having a close friend or family member as a tenant, regardless if it is through an agent or self managed.     
For most landlords it is the comfort of having someone you know in your property. It really is the best reference and background check you could have to know your tenant personally before putting them in your property, and with friends or family this is possible. 
“Renting to a family member or friend may seem like a good idea at first, but all too often the tenancy ends with one party feeling like they were taken advantage of, or neglected”    (Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA, 2011).
“In some cases the owner/landlord will typically relax qualification measures and make concessions based on the relationship, including not requiring an application, security deposit or even lease agreement. This may seem like the owner is doing the tenant a favor allowing for an easy rental arrangement, but in actuality both parties are now at risk without contractual agreements in place detailing the tenant’s and owner’s rights and obligations.”  (Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA, 2011) So ensure you follow all typical procedures including reference checks, lease agreements and security bond deposits.
Friendship or landlord/tenant relationship:
There is a big difference between a friendship and a landlord/tenant relationship. Understanding this difference can be difficult because suddenly you have wants and needs in relation to your property which may not coincide with your tenant’s wants and needs. For example you may have never had issues with renting your property without air-conditioning but now your friend wants it and expects that you understand why. On your hand you do not want to pay for a cooling system when you could have found a tenant without it. The lines of friendship are blurred because of your personal relationship and want of understanding from the other party.    
Will you be lenient on the tenant? Do they expect that you will? The expectations from each party could differ. There needs to be clear expectations set from the start so you are both aware of what is to happen.  Let them know you want the rent on time and wont accept excuses, conversely the tenant will expect you to respect their privacy, not to show up unannounced or too regularly.
Is your perception of what is clean the same as theirs? Will they look after the garden like you expect they will?
You know the person in your property and trust they will look after your property. There is a certain amount of security you feel knowing the person well and how they live.  The tenant will also feel comfortable dealing with a landlord whom they know and also trust to look after there needs during the tenancy.
Not all situations have a negative outcome however the downside of a negative experience may cause long term consequences that can affect relationships and family ties.