When you rent a home, you are, in effect, borrowing someone else’s most valuable asset, and that can come with some stressful responsibilities.
We asked Scott Bateman, chief executive of property management app Kolmeo, and licensee Daisy Campbell, who heads a 40-strong property management team managing 4000 properties at Perth’s Xceed Real Estate, for their tips to help tenants dial down the stress.
Pay attention to the property condition report
Campbell says the majority of tenant complaints are lodged when tenants are moving out.
Disputes over the condition of a property at the end of a tenancy are common but can largely be avoided if tenants spend the time required to complete the in-going condition report – something up to 60 per cent of tenants fail to do. This is a tenant’s opportunity to record what is or isn’t clean, undamaged and working.
“When you receive the property condition report at the start of the tenancy, make sure you read through it carefully and then be thorough and accurate with your comments and return it to your property manager,” Campbell says.
So, if there’s a pink stain on the bedroom carpet that isn’t mentioned in the report, it’s your job to record it so that you’re not held responsible at the end of the tenancy.
Keep the lines of communication open
Bateman says communication between agencies and tenants can be difficult even at the best of times, resulting in confusion, stress and frustration. “The most common pain point for tenants is the lack of communication,” he says.
“They want to know who to contact when they have a problem. How long is reasonable before they hear back? Where is the process up to? How do they know if their request has gone to the right person?”
Cloud-based management apps like Kolmeo aim to solve these problems, enabling the lines of communication to stay open 24/7.
Kolmeo helps property managers, landlords and tenants to streamline workflows, automate tasks and communicate, and can be used for digital payments, to log maintenance requests and to book routine inspections.
“They will know with accuracy who to contact and where a work order is up to,” Bateman says. “It’s a platform that guides a property manager through their day and automatically pushes anything really critical to the top of the to-do list.”
Get a vacate cleaner
Another common grievance at the end of a tenancy is the docking of a rental bond to cover cleaning.
“Even the cleanest tenant still gets bugs in the light shades, dust on the skirting boards and hairs in the flyscreens,” Campbell says.
She suggests tenants pay for a “vacate cleaner”, preferably one recommended by the property manager.
“If you use the agency’s recommended cleaner they’ll know the agency’s expectations, and if the job isn’t done right you won’t have any issues getting that cleaner to come back,” she says. “A vacate clean is quite a structured clean – there’s a list covering everything from window tracks to the rangehood grill and dishwasher filter.”
You can expect to pay between $35 and $55 an hour, and by outsourcing the cleaning you’ll be removing one of the many exhausting and stressful elements of moving house.
Set up a recurring payment
Campbell says one of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to set up a recurring payment so you don’t have to give any thought to the rent.
“If you know your rent is coming out like clockwork, you don’t have to worry about it,” she says.
Kolmeo offers digitised rental payments so that when a tenant wants to pay rent they can do it on the app. They can set up a direct debit, transfer the amount via BPAY or pay using a debit or credit card.
Bateman says Kolmeo harnesses market-leading payment technology that’s flexible and secure. It can also provide notifications when payments are due, when they occur and if they’re overdue.
And if circumstances mean you can’t meet your rent, Campbell advises tenants to be upfront with their property manager.
“Too often people bury their heads in the sand and ignore us, and that’s when the situation can start to snowball,” she says.
“Property managers are people too, they probably have debts, so you don’t have to be embarrassed.
“It’s very important to keep communicating and not to make promises you can’t keep.”