Seriously Different Property Management

The very best in customer service coupled with cutting edge technology is our difference.

  • We will ensure that all documentation is accurate and complete.
  • All property condition reports will be comprehensively and accurately completed.
  • All personal information will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be released to a third party without written authorisation.
  • All updates and corrections advised to us will be recorded in our system once received in writing.
  • The highest standards of honesty, integrity and professional practice will be conducted.
  • Should you have any questions or queries relating to anything in this manual please contact us on 1300 328 848 or [email protected].

Maximising your rent

How do you determine the best rent for my property?

We always strive to get you the maximum rent possible. However, we also must keep in mind setting the correct market rent to get your property leased as soon as possible.  Both factors must be important to present your property on the market successfully for rent.

To do this, we consider these factors:

Demand – is there a high or low demand for properties at present.  This can be seasonal and affected by a number of factors.

What is Available now – we look at properties currently available for rent and consider their location and features for comparison to calculate a maximum rent for your property.

What we have rented right now – we compare your property with what we have currently rented, taking into account property location and features.

These factors allow us to give you enough information to set the right rent for your property.

What if I want a rent amount that is higher?

You may place your property on the market at the rental amount you wish.  However, keep in mind that it is the market demand that sets the rent, and if the market (prospective tenants looking for a rental property) deem the amount of rent too high, your property may stay vacant longer than necessary.

How does the rent get reviewed during the time that you manage it?

When we need to secure you a new tenant, we will always review the rent against market conditions.  This will also be done at lease renewal time, or at other times when required.  We will always contact you for your permission before the rent is increased.

Selecting the best tenant

How does someone apply for my property?

We always ask prospective tenants to fill in an application form, provide proof of income and 100 points of ID. This allows us to find out as much as possible about an applicant prior to presenting the applications to you.

How do you check an Applicant?

With the information provided we confirm their income and tenancy history by calling their employer and previous real estate agents. We also check them against the National Tenancy Database to see if they have been lodged as a bad tenant by a previous agent or have any outstanding debts.

In some cases, where an applicant may not have a tenancy history we try and confirm other information that may give us insight to show their ability to maintain a tenancy in your rental property, for example a stable employment history.

In some cases, where this is not possible we may simply reject the application.

What reason do you have to give the applicant to reject their application?

Legally we do not have to give a reason.

Who selects the applicant for my property?

You do.  We will give you the information we have collected and by using our experience give you a possible guide as to the tenancy outcome, but at the end of the day it is always your choice.

Do you guarantee the tenant?

We can never guarantee any approved tenant for your property.  We can only attempt to collect information on their past history and confirm their income arrangements.  We do recommend to landlords that you take out Landlord Insurance.

Marketing my property

What do you do to advertise my property?

Once we have a signed Management Agreement authorising us to act on your behalf, we firstly take professional photos to ensure your property looks the best it possibly can we then list your property on: savoy.com.au and realestate.com.au. We will also erect a for lease board at the front of the property – subject to your approval and approval of the Owners Corporation in the case of a unit, flat or townhouse.

Property Presentation

How should the property be presented?

We ask that the property be presented in the best manner possible to attract the right tenant for your property.  We don’t want a bad first impression to detract the right tenant from renting your property. 

How clean should the property be when a new tenant moves in?

The property should be presented clean and tidy in accordance with legislative requirements.  We also request that any carpets be steam cleaned, to ensure that the tenant completes this once they vacate your property.

As a very general rule we ask the tenant to leave the property at the standard they found it.

In cases where the property is provided in an extreme level of cleanliness we ask the tenant to leave the property likewise.  However, in the case of a dispute legally we can only enforce that the tenant returns the property in a ‘reasonably clean’ condition, this being their minimum legal obligation.

Pets at my property (if permitted)

If I allow pets at my property, what expectations will be given to the tenant?

If pets are permitted, we will always sign pet conditions with your tenant.  This obligates them in 5 ways:-

  1. A Pet Rental Agreement must be completed and signed by the tenant
  2. No additional pet may occupy the property without prior permission
  3. The pet must not come inside the property – unless otherwise agreed.
  4. Although this can’t be enforced – We will endeavour to possible have pets removed from the property if it becomes annoying or bothersome to neighbours (after reasonable warning has been given in writing)
  5. The tenant must be responsible for any damage caused by their pet, and remove any rubbish or faeces deposited by the pet.

How do I ensure the pet will not come inside the property?

We obligate the tenant to commit in writing that they will not bring the pet inside.  However, as we are unable to monitor the property all of the time, we cannot guarantee that the pet will not come inside the property.

We do look out for any warning signs whilst at the property conducting inspections.

Receiving my rent monies

When do I get paid my rent?

Being a trust account we will pay out the rent as soon as it is received and cleared into our bank account.

How do you collect the rent?

We collect the rent by the following:

Direct deposit into our Rental Trust Account

Centrepay

Cash or Cheque

What happens if my tenant does not pay the rent?

Paying the rent is always a voluntary action on behalf of the tenant.  We can never force a tenant to pay their rent.  Even a tribunal can only ‘order’ a tenant to pay but can never physically force them to pay.

Our office has a zero tolerance towards rent arrears.  If a tenant does get behind in their rent payments, this is the process we follow: –

3 days behind – SMS message to tenant, landlord advised.

5 days behind – Phone call to tenant, landlord advised.

7 days behind – Letter to tenant & SMS message to tenant, landlord advised.

10 days behind – Warning letter about Notice to Vacate & SMS message to tenant, landlord advised.

14 days behind – Speak to landlord to gain instructions

15 days behind – Serve Notice to Vacate (this obligates the tenant to vacate the property within 14 days and/or pay all monies owed at the discretion of the property owner)

Approx 20 days behind – lodge Application with the Victorian & Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT) for an order of payment & a warrant of possession if necessary

Approx one month behind – Tribunal Hearing – order given to pay or be evicted

Approx 5 – 7 weeks behind – Eviction may occur if payments are not made as per the tribunal order and owners instructions

As you can see, the full legal process can be very drawn out and lengthy.

Unfortunately, the bond usually does not cover the shortfall in rent.

Only if you have landlord insurance will there be reasonable prospect of covering the rent payment shortfall, in the case of your tenant defaulting in their rent payments.

Without landlord insurance, the chance of recovering owed rent monies is minimal.  If you have no protection for your rent payments, the problem is further compounded with the fact that the bond will probably be exhausted with owed rent.  You will then most likely have cleaning up and re-letting costs.

Therefore, without landlord insurance, this process can be quite financially damaging.

Inspecting of my property

Do you inspect the property at the beginning of a tenancy?

We conduct a comprehensive inspection of your property prior to a tenant moving in.

We inspect your property area by area (lounge room, bedrooms, kitchen, front and rear yards, garage etc.) and then all items present in each area (walls, ceiling, light fittings, curtains, windows, stove etc).

We record their condition and cleanliness item by item, and then a brief description and detail about the item.  This would involve recording details of any marks, scratches and dents etc.

This document is referred to as the “Condition Report”.  We also take photos of the property.

How often do you inspect the property during the tenancy?

The Residential Tenancies Act states that we can only inspect your property once every 6 months for the same reason.  The first inspection we are allowed to conduct cannot be within the first 3 months of the tenancy.  This inspection is not as detailed as the start of tenancy inspection but is more like a walk through, checking room-by-room that the tenant is keeping the property damage-free and reasonably clean.

We also note any repairs reported or observed by us and any other recommendations needed to assist you in keeping the property in the best condition possible.

We will also send you a letter after our inspection informing you of any concerns and maintenance issued.  If there are emergency items, we will contact you as soon as possible.

What about when the tenant vacated the property?

When the tenant lets us know they will be vacating (they must give a minimum of 28 days’ notice in writing) we send them information of our expectations of how the property needs to be presented.

Once the tenant has fully vacated, we compare the property to the ingoing condition report completed when the tenant moved into the property.

We check through the report ensuring all items have been left in similar condition as when they moved in, taking into account reasonable wear and tear for the period of time they have been in the property.   We ensure the property has been left reasonably clean.

Should there be any issues in the property after the final inspection we will arrange for these to be dealt with either by the tenant or by our qualified tradesman. VCAT is a last resort for any vacating issues.

Taking of a bond

How much bond do you take from the tenant?

The bond is equal to 1 calendar month’s rent.  The Bond is paid by Bank Cheque and is held by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority. However, if your property is rented for over $350.00 per week we can request a six-week bond should you feel more comfortable with this.

When is the bond refunded?

We only refund the bond after all the following have occurred

  1. The tenant has fully vacated the property and all the keys returned
  2. The property has been inspected, and is satisfactory when compared with the ingoing condition report
  3. All rent monies are paid
  4. If the tenant is breaking their lease, any re-letting fees and/or advertising costs have been paid.
  5. Finally, that you have approved and are happy to return the bond to the tenants.

Tenancy agreements

What do you explain to the tenant when they move into the property?

We go through all of the most important expectations.  For example, how they must pay their rent on time, how and where to pay their rent, what we do if they do not pay their rent.  We discuss our repairs and maintenance policy, what happens in an emergency repair situation, how often inspections occur and what we look for.  We also supply them with two copies of the ingoing condition report, explain how they must check, sign and return one copy of the form to us.

We also explain and get them to sign the Bond Lodgement Form to lodge the bond with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority.

We also hand to them a Consumer Affairs booklet that explains some of their tenancy rights and obligations.  We must issue them with this booklet in accordance with legislative requirements.

What do they sign?

We prepare a Tenancy Agreement covering the details of the tenancy, with terms and conditions.

We request the tenants read the document fully, we then explain the main parts of the agreement to the tenant before we get them to sign it.  We will then send you a copy of the tenancy agreement, for you to sign and return.

The tenants are also required to sign the photocopied key register – accepting that they are receiving a certain set of keys which they must return at the end of the tenancy.

When do they get keys and possession of the property?

After the leases have been explained and signed, the bond lodgement form signed, all bond monies and the 1st calendar month’s rent received we will then grant them the keys and possession of the property.

Repairing and maintaining my property

Who is responsible for repairing my property?

Under legislation it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair the property.  This means it is at the landlord’s expense.

Unfortunately, due to legislation this now does include gutter cleaning and any major tree works/pruning at the property.

Who is responsible for general wear and tear?

General wear and tear that occurs from tenants just living in a property is expected and legislation proved that it be allowed.  A few extra marks and scuffs on the walls, some chips and scratches to doors and doorways will occur over time, along with the gradual wear of everything that is in the property.

The only time a tenant can be held responsible is if wear and tear is considered ‘excessive’ for the time frame that tenant has been in possession.  For example, a newly painted property with walls severely marked after 2 years resulting in the walls having to be painted again may not be allowed as ‘reasonable’ wear and tear.  In a tribunal this type of situation, if proved, could result with the tenant paying for the painting to be done or at least a portion of the painting costs.

What if the tenant is at fault?

If a tenant has caused damage to an item that is not the result of normal break down or wear and tear, this will be charged to the tenant.

Smoke alarms

In Victoria since the 1st of February 1999 smoke alarms complying with Australian Standard 386-1993 must be installed in all residential buildings.  We always ask that a hard-wired alarm be fitted to all rental property, due to the high chance of a tenant tampering with a removable battery powered alarm.   

It is the legal responsibility of the owners/landlords to install smoke alarms.

In addition, the landlord has a duty of care under common law to provide tenants with safe housing and ensure the smoke alarms are functional.

We work alongside a company called Smart House Fire Solutions who for a small fee can attend the property yearly to arrange a smoke alarm inspection and service – taking the liability off you as a landlord.

Who is responsible for maintaining the lawns and gardens?

Unless otherwise agreed, the tenant is responsible to maintain the lawns and gardens to the standard they were given at the start of the tenancy.

If the property is provided with grey watering systems, these need to be working and kept maintained during the tenancy by the landlord.

What about cleaning the roof gutters and pruning?

According to legislation it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure these are done.  Of course, we can arrange gardeners / handyman on your behalf to do these for you.

Renewing the lease with my tenant

Who decides if the lease will be renewed?

You decide if the lease is to be renewed.  We will contact you by letter approximately 90 days prior to the end of the lease asking if you would like to renew the lease.  We will then write to the tenant asking if they would like to renew the lease.  Once we have your approval we will send Renewal of Lease to the tenant for signing and forward same to you for signing.

If I do not wish to renew the lease, do I have to give a reason?

If you do not wish for the lease to be renewed, you are not obligated to give your tenant a reason.

Notice required when my tenant is vacating

How much notice must my tenant give when they want to vacate the property?

This depends on the type of lease they have signed.  If they wish to vacate the property on a non-fixed term lease, they are required to give 28 days’ notice in writing.

If they are on a fixed term lease they can give notice to vacate 28 days prior to the expiry date. 

If they break their lease, they may do so with little to no notice, however they are subject to paying rent until a new tenant is secured or to the end of the lease (whichever occurs first).  They must also pay the letting fee and any advertising costs.

Breaches of tenancy

What happened if the tenant breaks one or more of the conditions of tenancy?

Depending on what has occurred depends largely on what action is taken.  If the breach is minor, approaching the tenant verbally or in writing maybe appropriate.  If it is something serious we will consult with you first to discuss what action to take.

We will always let you know whether we should serve a termination notice on the tenant first or use more diplomatic means to rectify the breach.

Landlord Insurance

Why do I need landlord insurance?

At no time can we guarantee your tenant’s performance at your property.  The risk belongs to the owner of the property, and therefore the owner should be insured for such a risk.

Do I need landlord insurance if I have a good tenant?

Even a good tenancy can turn bad.  If the tenant’s circumstances change sometimes the tenancy will become unstable.  This can result in rent owing and the property not being maintained.

It pays to be properly insured, even with a good tenant.

We therefore strongly recommend that you take out cover that will provide insurance for the following areas:

  • Damage caused by tenants to your property
  • Tenant not paying rent
  • Legal expenses related to covering rent loss
  • Legal liability if your tenants or visitors injure themselves on your property.

(Owners of strata title units should be particularly aware that public liability insurance obtained through an Owners Corporation does not provide liability insurance for the inside of each property).

To assist you with this, we recommend either insuring your property with EBM Insurance or Terri Scheer insurance as that have both been proven to cover a lot more than other insurance policies however the decision is up to you.

We encourage you to investigate your insurance options and your current coverage under any existing policies you may have.

Pest Control Services

Should I get my property regularly checked for termites?

Yes, we strongly recommend all of our clients choose a pest control service and request they regularly check your property for termite activity at the frequency they recommend.

Unfortunately, we do not contract them to do this on your behalf, unless you specifically instruct us in writing to do so each time it is required.

Please note, it is a general exclusion of all building insurance policies that damage to your property caused by termites is not covered (not insurable).  Therefore, regular checking is the best way to prevent termite damage, or at least attempt to identify warning signs that termites are creating damage.

Without this the damage could be substantial and very costly to rectify.

Cost incurred at my rental property

Who pays for electricity and gas charges?

These are a tenant expense.  However, if there are charges relating to the supply of these services to a property, then the supply charges are at a landlord cost.

Who pays for water charges?

Water consumption charges are the responsibility of the tenant were the property has water that is separately metered for usage.

A separate house is most always separately metered but in blocks of units, flats and townhouses it is possible that the water may not be separately metered.  If the water is not separately metered, then the total cost will be the responsibility of the landlord.

The landlord will always be responsible for the rates portion of the water invoice.    We notify the water company when a tenant moves in and if the property is separately metered, the water company will send the appropriate portion of the invoices to the owner and tenant.

Financial Statements

Receiving my financial statements

We pay as soon as the rent is received and we will issue you with a statement each time we pay you.

We will also issue you with your end of year financial statement which accounts for all monies we have handled and disbursed to you on your behalf.   This statement will be issued to you in July of each year being the month immediately following the end of the financial year.

What do I do if I misplace a statement?

Call us and we will reissue another statement to you.

Selling or moving back into my property

What happens to the tenancy if I wish to sell my property?

You may sell your property at any time.  However, any fixed term lease in place is guaranteed to your tenant.  This means if a person buys your property and they wish to occupy it, they must wait until the tenancy is finished unless the tenant agrees otherwise.

What if I want to move in or someone from my family wants to move in?

Again any fixed term lease is guaranteed unless the tenant agrees to move out.

What if they are on a non-fixed term agreement?

If they are on a non-fixed term agreement, you may give them notice.

You may give them a minimum 60 days notice (allowing also for postage delivery time and public holidays) under following conditions: –

  1. The property is to be sold immediately after the vacate date (authority signed) or has been sold (contract singed) and the occupier requires vacant possession.
  2. The landlord, landlord’s father or mother, spouse, son or daughter requires possession (immediate family of the landlord only)
  3. The property is going to be demolished (as per permits)
  4. The property requires repair to an extent that the property must be vacant to do so (permits required)

Otherwise 120 days notice (allowing also for postage deliver time and public holidays) can be given. 

If you give 120 days’ notice no legal reason has to be given.

A regulated vacating notice must be issued when giving 60 or 120 days notice.

Can you sell my property on my behalf?

Of course we can.  Selling your property is part of the service we provide.

It is always preferred that we sell your property.  It is much easier to coordinate access with the tenant between the sales and rental departments if you are using the same agency for both services.

Your tenant will also be more comfortable to deal with a company they are already familiar with.

Just let us know if you want to sell, even if you are just thinking about it.

Where can I get more tenancy information?

More information can be obtained from Consumer Affairs on phone number 1300 55 8181 or www.consumer.vic.gov.au

A Guide to getting your property ready for tenancy

Some things to do

Mail    Please ensure that all mail is re-directed to your new address.

Utilities – Electricity, gas phone etc.  Please ensure all accounts are advised and cancelled accordingly.  The only services to remain in your name (with your new postal address) is water and council rates.

Appliance Manuals – Please leave them on the kitchen counter.

Keys – Please ensure all locks have keys.  Please supply 2 full sets of keys (one for our office and one for the tenant)

Preparing for inspections

First impressions are the most important.  They will help determine the rent a Tenant is prepared to pay and the type of tenant who is willing to lease your property.  These tips below could make a difference:

  • Paintwork both inside and out must present well
  • Lawns and gardens should be neat and tidy
  • Floor coverings should be in good condition
  • Window coverings must present well and allow adequate privacy
  • Kitchen and bathroom facilities and appliances must be in good and clean working order
  • All rooms should be clean and tidy
  • The property should be odour free
  • Ensure that fences and gates are in good condition

Preparing for your Tenant

A property provided to a tenant in good condition will assist in ensuring that it is left in similar order at the end of a tenancy.  This can also establish a standard of care and cleanliness during a tenancy:

  • All rooms, fittings and appliances should be in sound working order, clean and tidy
  • Carpets should be professionally cleaned
  • Clean chimneys and flues
  • Check all smoke detectors are in working order, replace batteries
  • Ensure gardens and ground are tidy and free of rubbish or unnecessary items
  • Clean concrete and paved areas of oil and other stains

You may like to consider the installation of the following items (if not already in place

  • Exhaust fan above the stove in the kitchen and above the shower recess in the bathroom/s
  • Door stops behind all doors
  • Gutter guard if the property is surrounded by trees or tall vegetation
  • Television antenna
  • Door deadlocks and window locks
  • Second smoke detector

Maintenance during the Tenancy

As with your own home, a certain amount of wear and tear is unavoidable during a tenancy and we recommend a repairs and maintenance program which will ensure that your property continues to achieve maximum rental and attract quality tenants.

Consider the following guidelines and suggestions:

  • Paint internally each five to seven years (dependant on wear and tear)
  • Paint throughout in a light neutral colour (not white) and use good quality washable paint
  • Remove ‘dated’ wallpapers, even if in good condition, as these can hinder securing a good tenant
  • Clean gutters regularly
  • Re-grout tiles in bathrooms and kitchens to freshen appearance
  • Ensure adequate tiling on walls around kitchen sinks, laundry tubs, bathroom basins, showers and baths
  • Tile sufficient wall area around stoves to prevent damage from cooking
  • Replace kitchen bench tops, cupboard and drawer fronts instead of installing a new kitchen, this can give the impression of a new kitchen at a fraction of the cost
  • Don’t lay soft vinyl flooring as this is more inclined to wear and tear
  • Ceramic floors in kitchens are not recommended as they are more inclined to crack or fracture if heavy items are dropped onto them
  • Select good quality, hard waring carpet with a quality underlay when replacing
  • Select a stove with coil elements as the solid type element and ceramic cook-tops require greater care and treatment during tenancy