Friday, March 22, 2013

Rising stress levels causes landlord, tenant and agent relationships to break

Just ask anyone and they will tell you: “I’m so stressed!”  
While  just enough stress can be a good thing, stress overload is a different story — too much stress isn't good for anyone. For example, feeling a little stress about getting a rental property or a property let can motivate you to be organised and professional throughout the process.  But stressing out too much over it can increase  stress levels and in turn, tempers flare.
Some stressful situations can be extreme and may require special attention and care.
But for most of us we just let everything get on top of us. Prospective tenants can get tense and anxious as the clock ticks towards when they must find a suitable property. Landlords see their savings disappear as the mortgage payment which now must be made by them if their property isn’t letting quickly enough.
Financial burdens and concerns are commonly a cause of stress. This leads to landlords not wanting to spend money on maintenance and tenants not wanting to pay the rent or wanting a reduction if maintenance isn’t being done
Everyone experiences stress a little differently. Some people become angry and act out their stress or take it out on others. Some people internalise it, resulting in negative consequences, often detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Some people who have a chronic illness may find that the symptoms of their illness flare up under an overload of stress.
Keep this in mind if you are a landlord, tenant or agent. Usually there is a reason behind a person’s behavior and that could be stress, so take a breath and put yourself in the other’s shoes.

An agents’ role is to be the mediator between the two parties and to assist relationships. A good agent will do this diplomatically serving g the best interest of all parties.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Beware of screening tenants via Facebook - The States are already facing legal cases over privacy issues!

Source: the Chicago Tribune News
Recently, a tenant applied for a rental and thought they would get the place. They had an excellent record as a tenant, a stable job, and a string of happy landlords in their past. However they were refused... Perhaps they should have checked their Facebook page before applying. Landlords and agents regularly check these, and they make decisions based on what they find. In this tenant’s case he was a political lobbyist and was a devotee of an eastern religion.

Was the information the landlord found the major contributor to his decision, if it was if we were in the States it would have been illegal?
Online searches of applicants' social media postings are on the rise. In the employment area, studies show that employers regularly conduct such searches. For example, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management contacted 541 job recruiters and found that 18 percent said their companies regularly researched their applicants on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. There's no reason to think that landlords and agents are proceeding any differently.
But as tempting as these sources are for information about potential tenants, using them carries a significant legal risk.
Suppose, for example, that you're a landlord who regularly goes online to research applicants. You're about to reject an applicant because of a poor credit score, but you've also viewed his Web page, which reveals that he's a devout (name a mainstream religion). Your applicant is incensed when he doesn't get the apartment and files a complaint with ombudsman...
What could happen from here?
They question you about your motives and, although you explain that the poor credit score alone justified your rejection, you also admit that you knew about the applicant's religion. Unfortunately, you have to convince the investigator that this latter bit of knowledge played no part at all in your decision. You'd have been far better off if you'd never learned of the person's religion in the first place.
You, however, are the applicant with a rejection and a revealing Facebook page. Unfortunately, you have no evidence that the landlord actually saw your page. You won't know whether he did unless you ask him. He's not likely to answer, and you won't get any information until you put him in a position where he'll have to answer. But to do that, you'd have to file a complaint that a fair housing agency will pursue. But your conjecture alone that he may have gone online, because lots of landlords are doing that, probably won't be enough to convince a fair housing official to act on your complaint and initiate an investigation.
There's a lesson here for both landlords and tenants. Landlords, be wary of going to social media sites to check out potential tenants. You may learn information that is totally extraneous to your decisions, but may come back to haunt you when you're challenged to prove that your knowledge of the applicant's religion, ethnicity, age and so on was irrelevant. True, you may also learn that he's a party animal every weekend, but you could probably learn that the old-fashioned way (by talking to past landlords or agents).
And tenants beware: What you post is likely to be viewed by landlords and employers. Think twice before sharing with the entire world!

Friday, March 08, 2013

It’s the little things that count when building an Investment Property

If you're thinking about building and investment home, rather than buying an existing residence, there are some little things to take into consideration when designing the property from scratch...

1. Technology
These days, it’s all about how we can connect so having data cabling and wireless is a key feature.
It also means you do not have to put in at a later date for a greater cost.

2. Water
Saving water in everyday use and the garden is a key benefit tenants look for as utilities bills soar, so consider rain water tank, grey water use and timers on irrigation systems.

3. Living spaces
The preferred option is to have several shared space areas one that blends indoors to outdoor area and at least one other for social gatherings. If it is family home it definitely needs a second living space.

4. Swimming Pools
The appeal of water is high and the preferred option is a lap pool as they can be used for exercise and fun.

FOR RENT: 21 Gilding Street, Royston Park - $870 p/w (Donna Hughes - 0424 178 804)
5. Air conditioning
In our recent hot weather evaporative air continuing in large homes doesn't cut it. Tenants want well ventilated and air conditioned areas in the entire home not just the living area and or bedrooms.

6. Energy efficiency lighting
With the higher price of electricity n natural light and energy efficiency light fittings are critical. It’s a selling point as lowering electricity bills is appealing especially if you want a higher rent. Also make sure light fittings have easy to change globes and fittings are simple to clean

7. Appliances
It’s still stainless steel but consider functionality as well as aesthetics they can him hard to clean. Put a focal piece in the kitchen i.e. a coffee maker, ice dispensing fridge or a wider cook top. You can also put in lighting that adds a great look to the kitchen. Lighting can change a whole room. Make sure appliances have a long warranty.
FOR RENT: 4/6 King Street, Unley Park - $390 p/w (Jenny Coulls - 0488 136 155)
8. Floors
Durable and easy to care for so this means no cream plush carpets. Hard surfaces such as tiles or floating floors (timber floors can soften and indent easily). Carpets only in the bedroom and go for dark colors.

9. Décor
Keep to neutral tones and go with either white and charcoal or white and brown/beige tones.
Don’t use patterns and feature walls as if you have to repaint this just add extra cost.

FOR RENT: 4/21 Edmund Street, Norwood - $270 p/w (Donna Hughes - 0424 178 804)
10. Windows
Shutters r slim line blinds – Venetians get dusty and curtains fade rip and get dirty quickly.

11. Durability and visual appeal
Always think of durability as well as looks. Also consider replacement of appliances and décor items if they have parts or attachments that can’t easily be fixed as you may look at expensive repairs down the track. There is no point paying a little at the beginning only to pay for it in expensive call outs and parts in the future. Sometimes paying a bit more for a reliable brand is better than going for a lesser known cheaper brand.

FOR RENT: 22 Fortrose Avenue, Seaton - $400 p/w (Kate Fuller - 0410 886 677)

Finally - you’re not going to live in the house, you are not building as your dream home. Think of the widest appeal and most functional use first. Whether you would have it or not is irrelevant, many an investment build has not returned what it should as the investor has gone for high end that a tenant won’t appreciate.