Any landlord who’s been around the block a few times knows there is plenty that can go wrong with an investment property.
Barking dogs, strong smells, rubbish dumpers, renovators, loud music and noisy shift workers are among the most common gripes for tenants. Then of course there’s the fact that no one ever enjoys taking the bins in or out.
Amy Sanderson, head of property management at LJ Hooker, says there’s also one other major factor that can lead to conflict.
“You’ve got the investor who wants to make as much money as they can from their investment property, and then you’ve got the tenant who wants to make a home – and they’re diametrically opposed,” says Ms Anderson. “And then you’ve got the property manager in the middle.”
Ms Sanderson says many landlords forget that a property needs to be clean and tidy when it’s on the rental market.
“I always say to investors: look at the property and think ‘would I be happy to live here?’”
While she recommends investors not shirk on maintaining the property, Ms Sanderson says you don’t necessarily have to do every little thing a tenant asks if it’s unreasonable.
If there’s a scratch on the wall, for example, it doesn’t mean you have to urgently repaint.
“You need to explain to the tenant that there are certain things that may not be done,” she says. “That’s where you lean back on the legislation.”
But keeping, say, the heater and air-conditioner in good order might win you a long-term tenant, and dodge the costs of finding new renters.
“There’s the cost of re-letting the property, there’s also the vacancy and wear and tear when people move in and out,” says Ms Sanderson.
Karina Reed, department manager of property management for Hocking Stuart says the main problems she encounters include the settling of the bond, differing views over maintenance and landlords who expect too much rent for too little.
Ms Reed says some of these problems can be nipped in the bud by selecting a good agent.
“The landlord should actually ask when they’re appointing an agent, ‘what are you like at problem solving, what are you like at conflict management?’”.
A thorough initial condition report should provide a solution to any disputes at the end of the tenancy.
As for maintenance, Ms Reed says, something a landlord might consider a minor problem can really aggravate a tenant.
“The tenant with the blind that keeps falling down – to the tenants that’s a pain in the backside.”