Here are some steps you can take before troublesome tenants become unmanageable.
Speak with your property manager early
If your investment property is being managed by a property manager, then chances are they are the ones that have identified the issue. Once identified it’s best to try and resolve the problem early before the matter escalates. Depending on the type of problem, your property manager will be able to guide you on your options but will need you to make final decisions.
For example, if during a routine inspection, minor property damage is found at the fault of your tenant, your property manager will notify you and will also notify your tenants, asking them to rectify the issue at their cost in a specific timeframe.
In cases where the damage is not rectified, your property manager will follow-up with the tenants on your behalf and if need be will guide you through the process of making a claim to have the cost reimbursed from the tenant’s bond, which is why it’s important to have the matter discussed as soon as possible as there are timeframes around this.
Note, the latter process has strict rules around it and it’s best to have a chat with your property manager or receive expert guidance on how to proceed.
Make sure everyone understands their obligations when it comes to rent
As a landlord, you have entered into a legal contract with your tenant to exchange accommodation in return for payment.
Make sure you’re clear that rent must be paid in full and when it’s to be paid i.e. make sure your tenant knows you won’t accept partial payments. If your property is being property managed, your property manager will make this clear to the tenant from the outset, in writing.
When it comes to rent that has fallen into arrears, there are things to consider before starting formal proceedings, again your property manager will guide you through this process and handle communication on your behalf.
Make sure you are getting regular property condition reports
Property managers know the ins and outs of property condition reporting and can perform these or organise to have them performed on your behalf.
Property condition reports protect you from potential conflict with your tenants down the track by ensuring photos, and detailed descriptions are taken for the property at the start of a lease agreement. This means if any damage is found when the tenant moves on, you’re both protected by a condition report which can easily prove if the damage was existing or not.
Be prepared if a dispute does escalate
If an issue can’t be resolved, a property manager can appear on your behalf to provide evidence and handle complaints which are referred to an administrative tribunal.
Property managers are required to keep detailed records of an agreement, inspections and even conversations, all of which are helpful when disputes escalate. If you are managing your investment property yourself, it’s also a good idea to ensure you keep track of notes made during inspections and conversations.