For first-time landlords, your first investment and first tenants can create uncertainty and fear.
Have you done everything you can to ensure you have the right tenant? Have you purchased the right house for the area? What are your obligations?
And of course the old favourite - what happens if they destroy the place? This confusion comes from buying a house, and not living in it. You've never done that before, and your natural inclination is to get into the place, make yourself comfortable and create something that's a bit more 'you.' This brings us to the first tip for new landlords.
It is technically, but keep in mind that someone will be moving in, probably with their family, and treating it like it's their own home. Hopefully. Most renters would rather own, but by giving them the sense that it's their place; empowering them to make small improvements, not getting too involved in the day-to-day, you can help them feel even more responsible for your second-biggest investment. People take better care of their own things than they do of other people's - help them feel like it's their own and you will reap the benefits in the form of a well looked after property.
In a complete departure from the first point, a good landlord always remembers their responsibilities and is aware of the expectations of their tenants. Keep in mind that your tenants want to love the house, but if things don't get fixed, or requests aren't responded to, they will become less and less interested in making sure the house remains in perfect condition. This isn't to say every ridiculous request should be adhered to; rather, make sure you or your agency resolves them with elegance. If they want a new wall for no reason, explain that you'd love to but it's not financially viable and suggest another option. If they want you to pay for a new roof, offer to have it inspected. There are many ways to make people feel looked after, and remove their concerns without spending too much. 'Bad,' landlords (as regarded by their tenants) are seen as not caring about the house or the people in it. The result, often, is a poorly taken care of property, as neither the owner or the tenant ends up taking responsibility for anything.
There are plenty of case studies and articles about the cost of bad or destructive tenants. Keep in mind overall cost when you have a period of vacancy or are selecting new tenants. If you're not sure about a particular applicant, go back to the numbers, check the risk and make an educated decision - sometimes, a short term cost will save you a fortune in the long run.
This is property investment and part of your portfolio. The first one is hardest, but as you train your brain to regard property as an investment, and not a place to live, you'll become happier buying, and walking away. Move your focus to the future, you can't control what's going on inside the house, but you can go back to your investment plan, and the more effective that becomes, the more hedges in place for unlikely scenarios, the better you'll sleep at night.
Jeff Grochowski is the CEO of Accrue Real Estate, which offers buyers a simple and effective pathway to purchasing investment property in Melbourne, including intelligence mechanisms and market-led advice, predicated on years of experience.
They also offer the opportunity to tap into the ‘underground property market – those properties that aren’t passed to agents and don’t appear on mainstream websites.