Geoff Patrick - We're used Rental Trends for about 18 months now and found them to be very good. There has been no staff turn over and communication is very good. Overall we are very happy with Rental Trends, they regularly keep in contact with us and respond quickly to our requests.
In slower rental markets Rental Trends finds itself managing vacant properties. But ‘unoccupied’ doesn’t have to mean ‘unattended’. Given our duty to act in our clients’ best interests, vacancy management is an important part of protecting the client’s asset. Here are few tips on how Rental Trends manages vacant property.
• Is the property secure? The property is being advertised ‘for rent’ so it is going to be more obvious when it is vacant. We ensure all doors and windows are locked, and no keys are left hidden onsite.
• Does the property look unmonitored? A letterbox choked with junk mail, bins left out on the footpath for weeks, and waist-high grass, tell people that nobody is watching things. We return bins back to their place inside the boundary, we ensure that grass is well kept. An unoccupied and unattended property can attract trespassers.
Managing a vacant property usually means regularly checking the premises and ensuring that it doesn’t look unattended. Encouraging vacated tenants to establish mail redirection, and adding a ‘no junk mail’ sticker to the letterbox can also help.
• Does the property look derelict? One broken window may make vandals feel invited to break more. Don’t defer repairs because the property is vacant.
• How fast are the weeds growing? An unkempt property is even more difficult to let, and if the lawns and gardens are overgrown at the start of the new tenancy – the tenant can leave it unkempt (possibly even more so) when they vacate.
• Who is cleaning the pool and checking chemical levels? If this is normally left to the tenant, we would ask you to engage a pool cleaner whilst the property is vacant.
• Will the electricity disconnection have any negative impacts? Examples might relate to alarm systems not functioning and therefore leaving the property even less secure, pool filters stopping and causing deterioration of the pool condition, or an enviro cycle toilet that is complicated to reset after a prolonged disconnection. Electricity should be reconnected in the lessor’s name until the property is relet, and then disconnected.
• Is the Lessor’s insurance affected? Some insurance policies may not cover unoccupied or vacant properties, or may require notification if the property is unoccupied for more than a certain timeframe. This is because from an insurer’s perspective the risks are higher – if something is leaking and nobody is there to report it, the damage bill is going to be much higher. Rental Trends encourages our Lessors to seek advice from their insurer about their particular circumstances and what is required under their policy.
• If a property is vacant there is no tenant to report burst pipes, or to notice that something electrical has shorted. Fires can start in empty properties, and in certain conditions, a property that is locked up without any ventilation might develop mould. Even if letting enquiries are slow, we visit the property regularly to mitigate risks for the lessor by regularly checking the condition of the empty property. Vacant properties should always be checked after weather events.
• A property that is locked up and not ventilated for days at a time over summer may become quite hot. Rental Trends likes to ensure there is nothing stored at the property that could be damaged or become hazardous.
• Do neighbours know how to get in touch if they see anything that warrants attention? Many neighbours would feel a sense of responsibility to call if they saw people lurking about or causing trouble at the property next door, or if there was an obvious problem. If you have a ‘for rent’ sign out the front then chances are the neighbours know how to reach us but otherwise we do introduce ourselves to neighbours and leave a business card.
• It has become the norm for Agencies to charge the owner a fee for providing vacancy management services, but only if this is stated on the signed Appoiintment form (PO Form 6). Rental Trends offers this service at no cost making it a viable proposition for the Lessor.