As we prepare for the holidays, landlords and property managers can make sure their rentals are looked after over the festive season with these four tasks.
It’s been another crazy year thanks to COVID-19. This festive season, many will be looking forward to a bit of a break from the chaos and take some time to relax and reflect. But just because the business year is winding down, it doesn’t mean landlords and property managers can forget about their rentals.
With some planning and communication, you can be prepared for the holidays – ensuring you get a break and your rentals are looked after. Here are four tasks to help you on your way:
Let everyone know you are going away
Stuff happens. And when stuff happens at your rental, your tenants need to know who to call.
If you are going away, or won’t be reachable, you need to let the tenants know who to contact in your absence.
If you’re a property manager, it will likely be a colleague, so be sure to brief your workmate and give the tenants all the relevant contact information.
For self-managing landlords, you may need to get a friend or relative to step in should your tenants need to get in touch urgently.
Landlords with property managers also need to notify their agency. Make sure your property manager has your contact details for emergencies and leave dates. If you are going somewhere you can’t be reached, assign a proxy to act on your behalf. Your property managershould have a degree of authority, but if something major happens and they need approval, you’ll need someone to act for you. Make sure the property manager has the contact details of your proxy. If you engage contractors (e.g. garden maintenance, handyperson, plumbers, electricians, etc.) directly, also let them know you are going away and that they may be contacted by your representative. And remember to take all contact details with you just in case.
If it is business as usual and you’ll be contactable, it’s a good idea to let your tenants know this too, so they don’t delay reporting problems.
'Houston, we have a problem' - have an emergency plan for repair and requests
Speaking of problems, you’ll need to have a plan in place to deal with tenant repair requests.
Emergency and urgent repairs need to be addressed within legislated timeframes. Make sure your tenants have the details of who to contact in the event of an emergency – your details, an alternate’s contacts, the details of tradies, utility providers (gas, water, electricity, telecommunications), State Emergency Service etc.
As many tradies will be taking holidays, make sure you (and anyone representing you) have a list with several tradie contacts in case an urgent repair is needed.
Another option to consider is providing tenants will a list of tradies (with back-ups) they can contact in the event of an emergency such as a water leak, electrical fault, damage from a break-in or weather-related incidents. Alternatively, you may consider letting the tenants know they can arrange urgent repairs themselves up to a certain dollar figure and they’ll be reimbursed. Let them know they will need to keep all the paperwork (invoice/receipt, causation report) in case you need to make an insurance claim.
With people home for the holidays, tenants might also have the time to take a look around the property and make a list of things that need to be repaired (non-urgent). Let them know how to lodge their non-urgent repair requests and provide a timeframe for when you’ll be able to address them.
If your tenants will be away, this might be a good time to attend to maintenance issues. Arrange for any intrusive repairs or upgrades (e.g. internal work or landscaping) to be made in their absence.
Safe as houses - ramp up your property security
The festive season and summer holidays are wonderful times of the year for thieves. Home burglaries spike during January, so reminding tenants about security might save everyone from tears.
Consider giving tenants a home security checklist which includes things like:
- locking up properly (it’s common for people to leave windows and doors open to let a breeze in or to run electrical cords through a window to the outside which prevents the window from being locked)
- setting alarms (ensure the security company has PM and landlord contact details), using sensor lights and keeping entrances well-lit
- not leaving keys ‘hidden’ around the premises
- cancelling deliveries if they are going away
- not leaving the packaging from new goodies such as electronics in plain sight (advertising to the light-fingered that there are new TVs, laptops etc. in the home)
- getting them to immediately report any problems with fitted security devices such as window and door locks
- what to do if the rental is damaged from a break-in (it’s a condition in the landlord’s insurance to prevent further losses, so they will need to act to secure the premises)
It’s also a good idea to remind tenants that they need their own renter’s contents insurance, as the landlord’s insurance does not cover their personal possessions.
If tenants are going away, it is also wise to ask them to shut off the gas and water mains and unplug non-essential electrical appliances.
Hope for the best, plan for the rest - ensure you have appropriate insurance
Insurance is a financial safeguard for when things go wrong. Protecting the investment property from the unique risks that come with owning and leasing a property makes sound business sense. But it is also important to make sure the property is protected with the right insurance.
Some landlords may rely on standard home and contents insurance, which may reimburse them for losses due to events like bad weather or theft. However, they may find that their standard home and contents policy doesn't cover losses caused by the tenant (e.g. tenant damage or loss of rent).
Specialised landlord insurance offers the cover needed to address tenant-related issues, although not just any landlord cover will do. There are different types of landlord insurance to suit the different types of letting scenarios. There are policies for houses which covers the building and contents (along with tenant-related risks, liability etc.), or cover for apartments that doesn’t insure the building structure (as this is covered by strata insurance). There are policies for fixed-term leasing arrangements, and for short-term (including Airbnb). There are even policies for properties leased to family and friends whereby the home and contents are covered but tenant-related risks are not.
Choosing the right insurance for the right circumstances is essential – no-one wants to find out at claim time they have purchased the wrong type of policy and aren’t covered for their losses.
Don’t leave the rental unprotected, check that the right cover is in place and that premiums are paid (lapsed insurance is no insurance) ahead of the festive season.
By ticking these four tasks off their to-do list, landlords and property managers can not only enjoy the ‘peace and goodwill’ of the season but the peace of mind in knowing the rental is protected.
Looking for cover? Check out the EBM RentCover range of products to find suitable protection for your property.
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.
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