Home Info Centre Four tips for protecting rentals during the festive season
Four tips for protecting rentals during the festive season
Prevention

Four tips for protecting rentals during the festive season

09 Dec 2019 6 mins read

This article was originally published on 25/11/2019 and was reviewed and updated accordingly on the above date. 

Ho, ho… oh no! The festive season is meant to be all about spending time with loved ones, good food, gifts, glittering lights and a bit of a break. But for many landlords and their agents, it can feel more like disaster season if things go pear-shaped.

We don’t want to sound like the Grinch, but the festive season is a time when risks at rental properties are heightened – like rent default, fire hazards, damage and theft. The reality of what the season can bring for landlords means you need to be vigilant if you don’t want to be left holding an empty Santa sack. 

Avoiding rent default

There’s no denying that this can be an expensive time of the year with feasting, gifting, socialising and holidaying. Which means your tenants may be tempted to prioritise festivities over paying their rent.

Rent default claims spike in the first three months of the year. Here are our top tips for avoiding rent default.

  • Be proactive about rent payments. Could you offer an incentive for early payment? Talk to your tenants. If they are going to struggle to pay their rent, see if there’s a mutually acceptable arrangement that can be made about payment.
  • Consider sending out a Christmas card or small gift to wish tenants a happy festive season – the personal touch may help remind tenants about their obligations to pay rent on time as it is a “real” person who will suffer if they don’t.
  • Keep on top of arrears – a little understanding can go a long way, but you need to address late payments immediately as partial and missed payments can result in a tangled mess worse than unboxing the festive lights.
  • Check if your landlord insurance covers loss of rent due to default.
Reducing fire risks

It is not Christmas without a bit of twinkle and sparkle, is it? But the comforting glow from all those glittering fairy lights, outdoor light shows, hanging tealights in trees and candles can quickly spark disaster.

Fire authorities warn that the season brings a heightened risk of home fires – with festive lighting a known culprit. To help your tenants avoid a lighting debacle, remind them about a few safety basics:

  • Only use interior and exterior lights fit-for-purpose and certified as meeting safety standards.
  • Ensure any electrical decorations and lights are in good working order and are installed correctly – especially after being stored away for the past 11 months.
  • Lights generate heat, so don’t leave them near flammable items like wrapping paper.
  • Never use indoor lights outside.
  • Don’t connect too many strings of lights together.
  • Don’t overload power boards and avoid connecting extension cords together.
  • Avoid running power cords across heavy traffic areas, under rugs, through open windows or sliding doorways.
  • Lights should be switched off each night or when you leave the home.
  • Keep candles clear of curtains and furnishings, the Christmas tree, decorations and other flammable items.
  • Never put candles under the tree or hang them as decorations.
  • Secure candles firmly in non-combustible holders that won’t tip over.
  • Never leave a lit candle unattended, check it regularly to ensure it hasn’t burnt down too far and extinguish when you leave the room/home or go to bed.
  • Make sure the tree and any other decorations don’t obscure or trigger smoke detectors and security alarm sensors.
Protecting against damage

T’is the season for socialising. And if your tenants are entertaining, then there’s a risk of accidental damage happening – think mulled wine spilled on carpets, new toys thrown through windows, cooking mishaps…

While your tenants are ultimately responsible for the damage they, their pets and guests cause, it is wise to make sure you have accidental damage cover in your landlord insurance policy, just in case they don’t make good.

Checking you are covered for malicious damage is also a wise move, especially if you have a holiday let or are leasing via an accommodation platform, as sometimes these types of rentals become party central and an out-of-control gathering can leave carnage it its wake and a huge damage bill.

In an ideal world, the festive season would be one of peace, joy and goodwill towards all. But the reality can be quite different. The stress and financial strain of Christmas can be overwhelming and tension can boil over – with the investment property bearing the brunt of that frustration. Be sure to check that your landlord insurance includes cover for malicious damage and loss of rent, as these costs can be hard to recoup from tenants if they are already having a tough time emotionally and financially (and make sure you understand the laws when it comes to domestic violence and rentals).

It’s also crucial to ensure you have liability cover for your investment property. If a tenant, guest or anyone else on the premises is hurt, or has their property damaged and it is your fault, you could be up for compensation. Your tenants also need to check they have liability cover either in their renters’ insurance or as a standalone policy, as if a third party suffers a loss and it is the tenant’s fault, they can be held liable (occupier liability).

Safeguarding the premises

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year for thieves. Home burglaries spike in January and why not? There are so many goodies for the taking (often proudly on display), so many opportunities (people on holiday), and so many trusting people (leaving doors and windows open).

Avoid the misery of falling victim by:

  • Reminding renters about basic security measures, for example, locking up, not leaving keys “hidden” outside and remembering to set alarms.
  • Checking on the safety and security of the property. If your tenants suffer a loss and it turns out to be your fault, for example you didn’t repair broken window locks, then they can claim compensation from you.
  • Asking tenants to let you know if they are going away so you can keep an eye on the property.
  • Suggesting tenants make sure they have renters’ contents insurance, as your landlord cover doesn’t’ extend to their possessions.
  • Ensuring your landlord insurance covers your contents and also malicious damage –they don’t call it “breaking” and entering for no reason.
  • Being sure to let your tenants know what to do if the rental is damaged from a break-in (it’s a condition in your landlord insurance to prevent further losses, so they will need to act to secure the premises).

This Christmas make a list and check it twice. Being proactive and offering your tenants a few tips to help protect their home (and your investment) during the festive season is an invaluable gift. 

*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 961 017 if you have any questions. 

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