Tips to help you in the market!
As a Landlord, especially a first-time landlord, we know that you will have many questions. Below are the most common questions that we are asked, and for the purpose of this concise FAQ sheet, we have provided basic, generalized answers. However, in reality, there are often many variables to any given situation that could affect procedures and legal requirements (and there are too many variables to cover in this basic FAQ section). To ensure our duty of care to all of our landlords, and potential landlords, click below to download the Western Australian government’s ‘Lessor’s Guide’, so you can be more fully-informed.
How long will it take to get a tenant for my property?
There is no set time-frame for finding a tenant, but with our expert advice to guide you, we endeavor to help you find one as soon as possible. We will carry out a Comparative Market Analysis to ensure the weekly rent is set just right, and advise you on presentation to attract the right tenant for you. We will then carry out Home Opens to showcase your property and we always respond quickly to prospective tenants, ensuring we pass all feedback on to you, both positive and negative. We are constantly working hard to rent out any vacant property (or soon-to-be vacant property) as quickly as possible, and this subject is included in our weekly meetings for discussion.
Do I get to choose my own tenants?
Yes, the decision is always yours, but we assist you in the process. We investigate every applicant so as to give you all the information you need, to make the most informed and best decision. This includes checking references, calling work-employers and checking the National Tenant Database for any problems.
Do I have to have a 6 or 12 month lease?
No. If a 9 month lease would suit you better, then you can offer this to prospective tenants.
Do I have to allow pets?
No, the decision is entirely yours. However, as so many prospective tenants have pets, it is worth bearing in mind that this could mean that you end up turning down a really good tenant, or limit the number of potential tenants.
Can I inspect my Investment property whenever I want?
No. The tenant has a legal right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property, and legislation states that a property can only be inspected a maximum of 4 times per year. You can however enter the property to complete your own maintenance, but written notice must be given at least 72 hrs prior. There are other extenuating circumstances that allow entry (with the relevant written notices and/or forms), so check the WA Lessor’s Guide for more specific information.
Do I have to approve all maintenance?
Legislation stipulates that as a Landord, you must provide a premises that is ‘habitable and in a reasonable state of repair’. In addition, the tenant is responsible for maintaining that level of habitability. For a more comprehensive outline of the Landlord’s responsibilities vs the tenant’s responsibilities, please refer to the WA Lessor’s Guide where you’ll see reference to things such as being responsible for the plumbing and maintenance of contents already provided i.e. the stove. At Oceanside, our standard practice is to contact our Landlords to discuss the circumstances of the maintenance required and await their ‘go-ahead’ before any work is carried out (unless it is an emergency situation and the Landlord is unreachable and we have to assess the situation and act quickly).
Can I complete maintenance myself?
Yes you can, however qualified and licensed tradespersons would have to be used for electrical and major plumbing works. We have recommended-tradespeople, or you can use your own preferred tradespeople. It is worth noting, that if you use your own tradespeople who are not registered professionals, (or indeed yourself as a non-registered professional) which results in the problem not being rectified and you then decide to try and claim it on your insurance to get it repaired, you may not be covered.
What happens if the tenant breaks lease?
Tenants are bound to their lease agreement, however, breaking lease does happen, and as such, the tenant will have to pay for the advertising costs of finding a new tenant at the same rental-rate, whilst continuing to pay the rent until a new tenant is in place. This ensures that you, the Landlord, is not left out of pocket. However, if a tenant absconds, which results in you being unable to get them to cover these costs, you may be able to deduct this from the bond, if you can prove that you have endeavoured to keep your out of pocket expenses to a minimum by, for example, finding a new tenant as quickly as possible. Another avenue might be to claim for unpaid rent from your insurance company, which is why we highly recommend an insurance company that specializes in Landlord’s Insurance. One of the only instances where a tenant is legally entitled to leave with only 7 days’ notice, is due to Family Violence, where the tenant needs to vacate quickly. ‘Breaking Lease’ is one of the topics that can get quite complicated, as you may also have to deal with insurance, courts and abandoned goods etc, so referring to the WA Lessor’s Guide is highly recommended. But remember, we are here to hold your hand through these processes.
What happens if a tenant damages my property?
With damaged property, there are several courses of action depending on the type and/or seriousness of the damage and agreements that may or may not be reached between Landlord and tenant, so again, it would be prudent to refer to the WA Lessor’s Guide for a more definitive answer. However, the basic overview, is that the tenant is responsible for any damage he/she causes, and can be issued with a notice to rectify the damage within 14 days. If they refuse, then a ‘Breach’ can be issued, which could result in court proceedings and eviction. If serious damage has occurred which could cause danger to yourself or agents, then an urgent application for a hearing at the Magistrates Court can be applied for. Other avenues to help recoup your losses, would be your bond, and your insurance - and again, at Oceanside, we will be with you every step of the way in resolving such an issue.
Can I increase the rent?
Yes, you can increase the rent when the tenant’s lease is due for renewal. Any increase should be thoroughly researched so that it is in line with the current local market. If you would like to consider a rent-increase, at Oceanside, we will research the market to help you arrive at an appropriate figure. You do not want to increase it above the market, so as to lose your current tenant if they are a good tenant. You cannot increase the rent within the first six months of a periodic tenancy, and for both periodic and fixed term tenancies, you cannot increase the rent within six months of a previous rent increase.
Can I sell my property whilst I have tenants?
Yes you can, but different rules apply to different rental agreements: A Fixed Term Agreement: You cannot terminate an agreement to sell you property, although if it suits the tenant to move at the time you are selling, you can come to a mutual written agreement. If the tenant wishes to stay until the end of their lease, then the house can be sold, and the purchaser will have to take on the current rental agreement until the end of the fixed term. A Periodic Agreement: If the buyer requires vacant possession of the property you are required to give your tenants a 30 day notice to terminate the rental agreement, but this can only be issued after the Sale of the property becomes binding. The property can (if the buyer so wishes), be sold subject to the tenancy, which means the current tenant and new owner can continue with the agreement. Note: For Periodic Agreement, either party can give a ‘no grounds’ notice of termination. The tenant has to give 21 days’ written notice and the Landlord has to give at least 60 days written notice. For either situation, the tenant is required to allow viewings, but as they are still entitled to their ‘quiet enjoyment’ the viewings should be conducted at ‘reasonable’ times and with ‘reasonable’ notice given. Although tenants are ‘required’ to allow viewings, you may find them unco-operative, as they may be unhappy about having to move. At Oceanside, we are very aware of this, and so we practice consideration and empathy to help the process along, and to ensure the best outcome for everyone.