Feel like risking the landmines or prefer a bomb disposal team to do it?

OK, that’s a bit extreme but really, the time and stress involved with managing your property privately can often significantly outweigh the cost of using a property manager. 

Managing a property is no walk in the park and with the very topical issues of Meth contamination and insurance demands for inspections, it’s hard to fulfill the duties required as a private landlord.

So, here is a few things you might consider:

Marketing your property

  • To get a premium price you need to market the property really well to as wider audience as possible. That means the internet, ‘For rent’ signs, and of course word of mouth.  It means crisp photos and attention grabbing text. You also need to take a step back and view the property objectively compared with what has been rented lately not just what is listed. Like real estate, what is being asked may not be what is being achieved.

Reference checks

  • You’ll need the usual rental and employment references and have some very good questions to ask of each category of references provided. You’ll need police and tenancy tribunal checks, a thorough search of social media, and a sixth sense would help. We even check that the referees are who they say they are through social media.

Meth management

  • The use of Meth alone can contaminate a property causing tens of thousands worth of damage. Increasingly insurance companies insist on you being able to identify the culprit which you can only do if you have a clear test result from immediately before that tenant lived there. Over 95% of our landlords agree to get a baseline test done before tenacy. You also need to carefully screen tenants and check at your inspections for any tell tell signs.

Knowledge of Anti-Discrimination laws

  • You’ll need an understanding of the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights laws based on race, sex, marital status, age (includes discrimination due to having children), disability, sexuality, or religion. 

Tenancy agreement

  • Basically you can’t avoid your obligations under the law and you can’t write anything in or out of the tenancy agreement that contradicts the Residential Tenancies Act. And you can’t simply avoid not having one – the rules apply even if agreement isn’t in writing. So yes you do need one and yes you will need to have a good grasp of what is allowed and what isn’t, plus your further responsibilities.

Going on holiday?

  • If you’re outside of New Zealand for more than 21 Consecutive days then you must appoint an agent. The tenant must be notified of the agent’s details, and the bond centre must be notified of the agent’s details. This isn’t advisory – this is the law!

Legally compliant property

  • There are so many different laws that you need to be aware of that directly affect your tenancy agreement and the day to day operation as a Landlord. Such laws would be Health and Safety, Privacy Act, Anti-Discrimination, IRD compliance, (proposed Housing WoF bill) to name just a few.  Do you know where to start to ensure full compliance? For instance if you get a mate to clean out the gutters and they fall, you are the employer and might be liable to worksafe

Insulation

Rent Records

  • You must be able to provide the tenant with a copy of full and proper records showing the amount of rent paid, the date of payment, and the property in question.

After Hours emergency repairs

  • You need to have provisions in place for urgent repairs that arise outside of normal working hours. An urgent repair is something that may endanger the house or the tenant.  You’ll also need to know the rules around what happens if the property becomes uninhabitable.

Routine Inspections – they are a must!

  • Often you might know a tenant and think everything will be alright if we don’t do inspections. However, often people’s lives get busy and little things can begin to slip.  If you are not doing regular inspections and your tenant is in place for many years, maintenance issues build-up and cleaning standards may slip. 
  • More importantly, insurance companies are now insisting on a 13 week inspection cycle with many claims being declined should this not have occurred and been documented.
  • There are documented procedures, forms and other requirements surrounding conducting a routine inspection. You need to consider the following:  Is the intended inspection to occur at a reasonable time? Has the minimum and maximum written notice periods been met?  Have reasonable attempts been made to negotiate a mutually suitable day/time for access?  Has the written notice been completed correctly?

Tribunal Procedure

  • Unfortunately no matter how good your checks and balances are, occasionally things do go wrong and you may be required to attend the tribunal to resolve a tenancy matter. You will need to know the correct paperwork to serve and/or the correct timeframes for serving various notices?  You also need to be aware that neither party is entitled to be legally represented.

Ending a Tenancy – Requirement for parties to give notice

  • Both parties (the Landlord and/or tenant) are now required to give a specified period of notice to vacate, even in a fixed term tenancy. If the correct notice is not given, you need to be aware of what effect this has when the tenant is required to vacate and their obligations to pay rent past the vacate and/or tenancy end date.

Checkout/ outgoing inspection

  • It is important to carry out an outgoing inspection as soon as practicable after the termination of the tenancy. The tenant must be given reasonable opportunity to be present at the inspection and in any event be provided with a copy of the outgoing report.
  • Cleaning- your outgoing tenant is only expected to clean to a reasonable level the tribunal would consider normal. That’s hard to quantify but it does mean they don’t have to clean it to level YOU may have left it. We’re used to this and have an eye for what is likely to be accepted or not.

 

The Tenancy Services website is very useful,

As mentioned, this is by no means an endless list of items that have the potential for lessors to fall foul of the Residential Tenancy Act, but we do hope it has been of some assistance to you.  If you ever require the services of a Professional Property Management team, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tim Monck-Mason

Business Development Manager

Bolitho Property Management