10 tips for landlords to make the most of 2020.

The end of the financial year is looming and now is the perfect time to assess your investments. What needs fixing, what could be improved, and how can you increase your net gain and manage risks to get on track for the future? Here are our top 10 tips to set landlords up for success in 2020.

Review your mortgage

Mortgage repayments are the biggest expense associated with property investment, so it makes sense to review your loan from time to time – maybe there’s a more competitive rate available. If you don’t have time to shop around at various banks, connect with a broker to find you a better deal.

Check your insurance

Getting on top of insurance ensures you’re protected should the worst happen. Standard landlord insurance policies cover things such as tenancy default and contents, but not all policies are the same. Check to see what is included and what restrictions may exist – your property manager can provide you with comparable policy details.

Building policies cover things such as storm or water damage, natural disasters and non-tenant theft. Public liability coverage is recommended in case a tenant or their guest has an accident within property boundaries, and landlord contents insurance looks after things like light fittings, carpets and electrical appliances. Make sure to inform your insurer that the property is tenanted and update your property manager on any policy restrictions to ensure the conditions of the policy aren’t breached.

Claiming tax benefits

Ensure that you are claiming allowable tax deductions on the decline in value of your investment property’s building, permanent fixtures and furnishings. You’ll need an up-to-date tax depreciation schedule. This is a document that provides your accountant with all the relevant information relating to your depreciation claims. A quantity surveyor will be able to put one together for you and, best of all, their fees are entirely tax deductible. Many surveyors also offer a money back guarantee if you don’t claim twice the cost in your first year. The Australian Tax Office website is a great place to start, or contact your Property Manager who can usually arrange this for you.

Pool safety and fencing

Summer might feel far away, but that’s why now is the ideal time to ensure any swimming pools are safe and have fencing that complies with Victorian laws. Changes to Victoria’s pool and spa barrier laws in 2018 led to councils conducting random inspections help to ensure compliance. As well as helping avert accidents, proper pool fencing will help prevent costly fines and ensure you’re meeting your duty of care as a landlord.

Routine inspections

Routine inspections are crucial to keeping a property in good repair. By having your property manager schedule visits to your investment property, you can be alerted to any maintenance issues and make sure there are no problems brewing. It’s a good idea to set up an inspection before June 30, to ensure all is in order before the new financial year. Speaking of which…

Sorting out overdue maintenance

If you’ve been putting off repairs, now would be a good time to have them fixed. You can claim any costs when putting together your next income tax return. Moreover, if a property has features in poor condition or faults that need fixing, it might jeopardise your chances of receiving optimum rental income. Your property manager may be able to help negotiate a payment plan or arrange staged maintenance with a contractor to make the repairs process more affordable.

Scheduled and preventative maintenance

Another way to save on maintenance costs is by scheduling them in advance. By setting up regular regimes for tasks such as gutter cleaning, servicing air conditioning and heating systems, gardening and pool care, you can prevent breakdowns and more expensive repairs down the road. These are tax deductible and will also go a long way to ensuring a cooperative landlord/tenant relationship. Call your property manager to organise a maintenance schedule today. 

Reviewing your rent

When was your rent last reviewed? Whilst reforms to Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act only permit increases in rent once every 12 months from June 2019, it’s important to ensure your rent is keeping pace with the market. It may not always be appropriate to boost your rent every year, but it’s definitely worth considering just in case.

Smoke alarm compliance

All Victorian homes are required to have functioning smoke detectors installed and it’s in everybody’s interest to keep them in working order. Doing so saves lives and prevents property damage. Smoke alarms can be serviced – including a clean, test, check and replacement if necessary – for $99 per year. Contact your property manager if you don’t already have an annual service in place.

Build positive relationships and retain good tenants

Never underestimate the value of investing in relationships. By being a helpful, friendly landlord, you’ll reap enormous dividends and reduce releasing costs because tenants want to stay longer. A happy tenant who feels valued is likely to reciprocate and treat your property with even more care and cooperation.  

Chat to your property manager about arranging a gift to welcome your tenants to their new home. Something small, such as a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, or cookies is a great way to start the relationship on the right note. Kay & Burton has developed a range of gifts for landlords to send to their tenants as a welcome present or a “thank you” after a positive routine inspection, with a personalised message and card.


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