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By George Hadgelias

How to rent on a student wage

There are few times in your life that are as financially challenging as when you move out of home as a university student.

Balancing study and university life, while managing to earn enough from casual employment to support yourself, is a battle tens of thousands of students face every year.

So how can students get the most out of their residential rental situation while living on a student wage? These tips are a good starting point to help student renters stretch their student wage further.

Cast your net wider

If you can’t bear the thought of living anywhere other than the best locations in your capital city, expect to pay a huge premium for it.

On a student wage, many suburbs will simply be out of reach, so be prepared to look a little further out in order to find something you can afford.

University of New South Wales Residential Communities director Isabelle Creagh says that while students want to live near the CBD and beach, the reality is they’ll put themselves under far less financial strain if they look at options a couple of suburbs further out.

“The closer you get to the beach and the CBD, the more expensive it is. As much as students look there, they don’t often end up living there (because of the price).

“We tell them to take a good look at the transport lines,” Creagh says.

Have supporting documentation

Securing a rental in a highly competitive market near a university is difficult enough, without your financial situation counting against you, too.

Century 21 Clayton director Con Stefanidis, who markets rental properties near Melbourne’s Monash University, says it’s important that students can demonstrate to a landlord that there’s a financial fallback, in case their work dries up.

“We have a lot of kids from the country, or even interstate, who come and rent here, and they’ll have a letter of sponsorship from their parents.

“If they don’t have that, we need at least some sort of financial status or statement … so we can see there’s some money there that will get them through the year for the rental,” Stefanidis says.

Approach cheap rentals with caution

Sometimes there’s a reason that a deal looks too good to be true. Creagh says there are many unscrupulous landlords waiting to take advantage of student renters who are desperate to find cheap accommodation.

“There are landlords who’ll double or triple book them to a room. There are also weird subleasing arrangements,” she says.

Creagh advises students to make use of the free advisory services that most universities offer. They’ll check the fine print in your lease and provide advice before you sign it.

“It’s just so much safer to have it checked and it doesn’t cost you anything.”

Sharing is caring

Who wouldn’t love to have their own private pad in which to enjoy their university years? But the reality is that renting your own property will likely be very expensive.

Share housing, on the other hand, offers most of those same creature comforts with some shared spaces, and at a significantly lower price point. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to meet and socialise with other students.

“Per room it’s much cheaper (to share). They’ll usually have their own bathroom but they’ll share laundry and kitchen facilities,” Stefanidis says.

Demonstrating the disparity in pricing, Stefanidis says share accommodation near Monash University starts at around $170 per week, while studio apartments are at least $250 a week and one-bedroom apartments can cost up to $320.

Try looking on sites like flatmates.com.au for a share house near your university.

Know your needs

Remember, the rental price isn’t the final cost.

Does your room or property come with bills included, or will you need to pay extra for wi-fi, gas, electricity and water? How much will public transport cost, or will it be cheaper to run a car? Crunch the numbers hard on each property to determine which ticks the most boxes for you financially.

For more information click here

5 tips before renting to your mates

So you have a spare room, and a friend or family member needs a place to stay so you offer to rent it to them.

Or maybe you’re the renter – and a friend or family member offers you a spare room, and in the process you’ll be keeping them company and helping them out with some cash.

It sounds like a win-win situation. What could possibly go wrong? So much!

Read on to avoid a rental relationship nightmare.

A good idea gone bad

“Don’t do it,” wrote one friend, when I asked how it went when she rented from a family member. “WORST THING I EVER DID”.

While she acknowledges the renting was probably a trigger for something that was going to happen anyway, she remains upset by what happened and concerned that others may make the same mistake she did.

“I think in hindsight it was the start of the end of the relationship,” she says. “The renting led to breaking down of boundaries and then ultimately the breaking of the relationship. We barely speak now.”

So how can you avoid this kind of relationship breakdown if you’re renting from, or to, friends and family?

1. Think before you jump

Heard the old saying: “You don’t know someone until you live with them”?

Anything that annoys you about that person now isn’t going to vanish when you live together. In fact, it’s likely to get worse, and be more amplified and irritating at such close quarters.

So give the situation and the personalities some thought. Ask some questions: What’s at stake here? What could go wrong? Should you do it? Could it ruin your relationship? And what would happen if it did?

2. Sign an agreement

No matter who you rent to, or from, and no matter what the reason, always sign a rental agreement. Yes, it may be awkward to negotiate at first, but the consequences could be far more damaging.

If you get it right from the start, living with friends and family can be a great experience, and one you might repeat. For instance, Leona told us about a couple she knew who were romantically involved deciding to move in together. They’d only known each other a couple of months and it was her apartment, so she had him sign a rental agreement because she didn’t know anything about his living habits.

“They said it was awkward at first but saved any potential resentment or misunderstandings,” Leona says.

It ended up working out really well. So well in fact that several years later the same couple lived with his mother for about eight months, and before they did they again signed an agreement that outlined their living arrangements.

3. Outline the ground rules

Getting everything right at the start is crucial to any good living relationship. Barri rented from a friend-landlord, and says that outlining the ground rules was the key to their successful cohabitation.

“We were living together,” he says. “So it was as much about living with friends as the landlord/tenant relationship.”

Barri recommends sitting down and setting out the ground rules before doing it. Not just the financials, but also any house rules – like who can sleep over or who does the chores.

“Try not to do this in the pub and give each other time to think on it after first talking,” Barri says. “Put it in writing and get a witness.”

4. Respect the financial transaction

Renting from anyone – friend, family, or stranger – is a financial transaction. So treat it like one. Keep money front of mind and don’t avoid discussing it.

“Don’t ask for any favours with rent or bills,” Barri says. “It puts horrible pressure on your friend-landlord as they feel they have to agree and then if you don’t pay, they’re in a horrible position, putting the whole relationship into jeopardy.”

“And, from the tenant side, it’s really important to think about your friend’s financial commitments here,” Barri says. “It’s their mortgage at risk, not yours.”

Always pay rent and bills on time. And create a kitty for day-to-day expenses like household shopping, cleaning, supplies etc.

“Friends or family constantly having to ask for money from each other is just really awkward and unnecessary,” Barri says.

5. Take away the most common friction points

It doesn’t take long living with someone to work out what you’re friction points might be – and once you do, preempting them and taking steps to solve them before they get out of hand can avert a relationship breakdown.

No matter your age, gender, or who you’re living with or renting from, the most common share house complaints (other than money) are about cleanliness and who ate all the food.

“Get rid of those stupid arguments about housework,” Barri says. “If you can afford it, get a cleaner. If you can’t afford it, keep a rota and stick to it no matter what.”

Barri also suggests getting a regular basic shop sorted to be delivered to eliminate those arguments about who finished the milk.

And, finally…

Like any relationship, communication is everything when you’re living with friends or family, so make sure you think it through, talk about it, and have an escape plan in place to enact well before it all goes pear-shaped.

Click here for more information

8 Tips For a Winning Rental Application

Depending on where you live and what your budget is, the rental market in Australia can be pretty brutal.

If you show up to a rental inspection with fifty other people, you can’t afford to be cavalier about your application. If an agent is trying to choose between you and another application and they have their bond, first month’s rent and a list of perfect references you need to match them and top them.

Here are eight things to consider when submitting a rental application.

1. Make sure you have all the correct documentation

The real estate agent should provide you with a list of documents that you need to bring but it can’t hurt to be over prepared. In most instances you’ll need references, the completed application form, pet references if applicable, pay slips or proof of employment, photo ID and a cover letter.

Make sure you have all of these documents copied and ready to submit to the agent because they aren’t going wait around while you duck to the newsagent to make a photocopy of your passport.

Have everything copied, certified if necessary, and organised into a folder that you can hand to the real estate agent on the day.

2. Save time & apply online

We barely use snail mail for anything anymore, so why should rental applications be any different?

If you click on the apply button on any property in our Rent section, you’ll be redirected to a simple online application form.

Forget printing, scanning, photocopying, stamping and walking to the postbox – fill in a single form that gets automatically emailed to the property manager.

The best bit? Once you’ve filled in your details once you can apply for as many properties as you like – halving the amount of time you spend on each individual application.

Sending your applications online also means you can manage them on the go from any device.

3. Get your housemates into gear

Your housemates don’t have to attend the property inspection (although this is preferable) but you need to get their full and completed application and references. If you have a complete set of documentation for all members of the household you’ve got a better chance of being on the top of the pile.

Apply online straight after the inspection, and you can bypass the pile altogether. You’ll be sure your information won’t get lost or cast aside. Agents will be unlikely to waste their time chasing people for important information.

4. Be on time

This is a general courtesy rule but one that is applicable to all professions. Holding an open house is quite stressful and usually agents work solo in circumstances like this, so they’re very busy on the day.

If you’re ready and waiting when they arrive they might remember when the time comes to choose a tenant.

5. Make your application as uncomplicated as possible

Only submit the necessary documents. It’s fine to have any additional documents you think you might need on hand, but only submit what the agent asks for. The 1Form application is the easiest way to consolidate the information that agents really need.

6. Be presentable at the inspection

You don’t have to wear a suit but it’s important to look presentable. It shows you’re keen to secure the property and that you’re taking the application process seriously.

If you show up looking like you mean business, you could increase your chances of success.

7. Be reasonable & pleasant on the day of the inspection

If you’re the only people applying to live in the property, this could give you a little extra power to ask for repairs to the property or a reduction in rent. However, if you’re up against another dozen people who are also applying, you’re not in a position to bargain or be demanding.

Being pleasant rather than pushy can put you in the good graces of the agent.

Charm them: 7 ways to win over a potential landlord

8. Follow up

If you’ve submitted an application and you haven’t heard anything 48 hours later, do send a follow up to the agent.

Let them know you’re very interested in the property and that you’re happy to provide any additional information or references they might need.

They may well be trying to decide between your application and another candidate and if they receive a pleasant message from you, it might just put you at the top of their list.

For more information click here.

7 Ways To Win Over A Potential Landlord

Have you ever applied for a rental and been denied? Most people in the rental market get rejected from a property at some stage, and the landlord might not tell you why.

We’ve nutted out a few essential tips to make sure you’re the lucky one who wins the rental of your dreams.

7 tips to winning over your landlord

1. Dress up

Always look your best when going in for rental inspections. We’d all like to think that looks are irrelevant when it comes to choosing potential tenants but it’s just common sense that a landlord will favour a person who looks presentable on the day.

You can certainly be yourself but it might be best to leave the stubbies, ugg boots or black lipstick for when you’ve moved into your lush new pad.

2. Be on time

If you come rushing up the street 15 minutes after the open house has started, it’s not going to make a good impression.

If you’re the first one waiting outside the rental property and you greet the real estate agent with a lovely big smile, that’s the first impression that you want them to take in. Be first and be memorable. It will make a huge difference.

3. Have a rental resume

If you’re seriously playing the rental market or you’re looking for a place in a dense area where the competition is fierce, it’s best to knock up a rental resume and have it ready and printed so you can apply for the house on the spot.

Your rental resume should include details about yourself, other house mates that you would be living with, your education, your job and salary, rental history, references and contact details.

Speed can be your biggest ally when applying for a rental and if you show up looking super suave with a ready printed resume, you’ll go straight to the top of the landlord’s list.

4. Be one step ahead of everyone else

A rental resume is great but if you want to get the jump on the competition you should consider creating a profile on 1Form – a free online rental application service that streamlines the process of applying for properties.

It takes the hassle out of filing paper applications and photocopying your your ID, salary history, and so on, because you only have to complete the form once then use it to apply for multiple properties.

So before you even step inside a property and work your charms on the agent, jump on the site, customise the application for the property you’re interested in, hit send – and voila! The agent receives your application in seconds.

This is particularly worth doing if the property has been on the rental market for a while and they’re keen to get a tenant. With a pre-prepared or swiftly delivered application form, landlords will love you.

5. Be honest

There’s absolutely no point in lying about anything. That includes pets, potential housemates or your salary.

If you have a black spot on your resume, the best thing to do is to be completely candid about it. If you have a pet, draw up a cute pet resume and have your pet plead their case in their own application.

The landlord will appreciate your honesty and hopefully, your humour.

6. Be charming

Lot’s of people find rental inspections overwhelming but it’s really not the time to be shy. Have a chat to the agent, comment on how awesome they are for being up so early on a Saturday, ask them how they got into real estate; just have a conversation with them about their own lives.

People love to talk about themselves and if you make them feel good by listening when they complain about traffic on the way to the inspection, they’ll remember you and might favour your application.

7. Be desirable

It’s important to put your best foot forward so try to highlight all those things that make you an attractive tenant.

Make mention of the fact that you’ve been with your company for the past five years, or that you own your car. Remark upon how much you enjoy gardening, or highlight any trade skills that’ll help show how you’ll maintain or improve the property. Demonstrate that you’re good with money and are largely reliable.

Sure, your dog may yap when the doorbell rings but you want to point out that 90 per cent of the time she’s “easy going, and a very friendly Maltese terrier”.

Put yourself in the landlord’s shoes; they’re looking for someone who will look after their property and who’ll pay the rent on time.

If they feel confident in you then they’re more likely to find you an appealing tenant.

For more information click here.

Energy Tips for Renters and Property Owners

If you rent, or if you own a rental unit, you can use many of the tips throughout this guide to save money and energy.

RENTERS

You can reduce your utility bills by following the tips in these sections:

Encourage your landlord to follow these tips as well. He or she will save energy and money, improving your comfort and lowering your utility bills even more.

PROPERTY OWNERS

Nearly all of the information on Energy Saver also applies to rental units. The section on Your Home’s Energy Use focuses on air leaks, insulation, heating and cooling, roofing, landscaping, water heating, windows, appliances, and renewable energy.

For more information click here.

6 Thing You Can Do In a Rental Property

When skimming through a rental agreement, you’d be forgiven for wondering if there’s anything you’re actually allowed to do within the four walls of the house you’re about to inhabit.

The rules governing the occupancy of residential rental properties are many and varied, chiefly to ensure the landlord receives their property back in the same condition in which they rented it out.

But if you’re not afraid to ask some questions and make a request or two, you might be surprised to discover what your landlord will allow you to do.

Own a pet

Even if your rental agreement says “no pets”, at many properties you’ll likely be allowed some sort of furry friend.

When this writer recently moved into a new apartment there was more than half a page of fine print dedicated to the strict ban on pets within the property. But with a quick call from the agent to the landlord, a kitten was approved in less than five minutes.

Many landlords’ rules around pets are there to prevent damage, so creating a pet resume can help reassure the landlord that your pet isn’t likely to be a problem.

Adding a door or wall

Want to partition off part of your rented apartment, or add a door to create another bedroom or living space?

Hocking Stuart Richmond Department Manager – Property Management, Jo Leonardis, says some of her previous tenants have taken it upon themselves to make additions to properties that significantly altered their layout, particularly in warehouse-style spaces.

But Leonardis says you’re far better to ask first or you risk having to pay for the renovation to be reversed.

“Sometimes tenants, if they’ve got a bedroom that doesn’t have a door or it’s more of a mezzanine style, they do go out of their way to install a wall or a door or something to block off that room and use it as a bedroom, and/or study or whatever to suit their purposes,” she says.

“It can go two ways: the owner loves it for the fact that they’ve got this extra room… or they want it removed immediately, because it does affect either the structure or the appeal of the property.”

Installing a security system

Newer security systems are now so advanced that they can run exclusively through your home WiFi and need no internal wiring in the house.

Many of the systems are app-based, allowing you to check up and control everything when you’re not at home, and because you don’t need to install anything, if you move to another rental property in 12 months’ time, you can easily pack it up and take it with you.

Kitchen reno

Love the house and location but don’t like its ageing kitchen? Why not ask your landlord if they’d be prepared to cover some or all of the cost of upgrading it, if you’re prepared to do all the legwork?

Leonardis says some tenants who’ve planned to remain in a property for longer periods of time have arranged for a kitchen overhaul.

“I actually had a tenant that wanted a new kitchen, so he went to IKEA and did all of the groundwork for the owner, and the owner was like, ‘Yeah, OK, it’s really old, that’s fine, let’s see what it looks like. You install it and can pay half for it’,” she says.

Hanging pictures

Many landlords will allow you to hang pictures or photo frames on some walls, provided you ask permission first and agree to repair the holes when the time comes to move out.

Painting the property

If you simply can’t bear the wall colour in your bedroom or living space, you can ask if the landlord will allow you to repaint it.

Leonardis says while many landlords will say no, some will allow it, provided you consult with them on colour choices, and have the painting done professionally.

For more information click here.

How To Maximise Renting Before Buying

Many of us spend time renting while we save up to buy our own dream home.

So how can you get into your own place as quickly as possible while still paying the rent? We asked a financial adviser for his tips on what renters can do to increase their chances of buying.

The challenge of saving a deposit

According to Martin Speiser from Masu Group, the biggest obstacle for renters who want to buy is saving a deposit, particularly in big cities where rents are high.

“Renters are spending a lot of their disposable income on rent,” Speiser says. “This makes saving very hard.”

“It is also tough for young people as lifestyle is a priority – so it’s hard to tell a twenty-something not to go out and party or travel,” he says.

Despite the challenge, Speiser says saving a deposit is critical.

“Banks no longer lend 100% of the purchase price, so without a deposit you cannot buy,” he says. “It is also more difficult for parents or others to go as guarantors of loans these days”.

But while saving a deposit should be the main focus of renters who want to buy their own property, there are some other things to keep in mind.

Look at the bigger picture

Speiser says changes to the first home owner’s grant and the limiting of stamp duty concessions in some states doesn’t help.

This has often happened at the very same time as property prices increased.

This means it pays to spend time looking at the bigger picture and how this could affect your ability to buy property, whether positively or negatively.

“As prices increase, affordability reduces, and the deposit required increases,” Speiser says.

Speiser also says that, far from being a benefit to new home buyers, low interest rates actually make saving harder.

“You would think low interest rates would help buyers,” Speiser says. “However, if you are trying to save in a bank and interest yields are 2%, that’s not a lot of growth you are getting.”

Bank policies on lending have also been shifting – not only the Loan to Valuation Ratio (LVR or how much they will lend on the value of the property) but also their willingness to lend in certain areas where they feel there is oversupply, like Docklands in Melbourne.

“If they do lend, it may be at lower LVRs,” Speiser says. “And the lower the LVR the the higher the deposit needed.”

Prepare yourself financially

Speiser’s advice to those looking to purchase property is simple.

“Save, save, save, and try not to rack up personal loans and credit card debt,” he says. “If there are large credit card debts it could be detrimental to your borrowing ability.”

And be pragmatic about how you can help yourself achieve your goal.

“Many young people also choose to stay at home longer to save,” Speiser says.

Research the property market

Speiser says that, while most people know where they would like to live, you should always thoroughly research the property market and be open to exploring the benefits of new areas. Consider essentials such as access to public transport, schools, shops and other amenities, as well as any negatives.

And use sites like realestate.com.au/invest to check recent sales prices and go and visit properties currently on the market to see what your money really buys you.

Take a long-term view

If you can’t afford the area you like or the property that suits your lifestyle another option can be to buy an investment property. Speiser says this can be a good idea provided you have a long-term time frame.

“Generally property investing should be done with an eight to ten year time frame,” Speiser says. “I have seen many cases where people who rent and buy investment properties are better off long term than those buying a home and paying it off.”

But this is not a one-size-fits-all approach to getting on the property ladder and Speiser cautions that many factors need to be considered including the type of property, the potential for growth, income and the effect of negative gearing.

There’s also the option of buying off-the-plan. While Speiser says it is not without its own risks, it can help you keep saving a deposit while getting a foot on the property ladder

Be informed about the process

Speiser says renters should also spend time researching the process of buying their own property and be fully informed about the costs – from stamp duty to legal or conveyancing fees.

For instance, prospective buyers should be aware that banks will not lend on purchase price, they lend on valuation.

“If the valuation comes in lower than the purchase price then more of a deposit is needed,” Speiser says.

For more information click here.

13 Things To Buy Before Moving Into A Share House

Share housing is one of the most memorable times in a young adult’s life. 

Sure, there are ups and downs. Like the stand-off that takes place when one of your flatmates refuses to buy the next round of loo paper.

Or waking up to loud music and discovering there’s a mini rave taking place in your kitchen.

Then there are those moments of hilarity on the couch, sitting around the kitchen table sharing meals as a family, and the creation of long-lasting new friendships.

Before you get to all that though, you’ll need a few things to help you start your new life. Try these ideas on for size.

1. Pot plant

Greenery instills a sense of calm in any home, so come armed to your new digs with a lush new indoor pot plant.

It’ll put a smile on your dial and most likely be seen by your flatmates as a lovely new addition.

2. New cutlery

If you consider yourself a clean freak – be honest – you’ll need some fresh cutlery for those at-home dinners.

You can generally pick up cheap buys from supermarkets, Target and Kmart.

3. Bath mat

For anyone who gets irked by a wet bathroom floor, consider this: You could be sharing with two, three, four or more other flatmates.

A constantly wet bathroom is inevitable. Ew.

Buying a new mat sorts this issue out early on and avoids accidents.

4. Sheet set

If this is the first time you’ve lived out of home, go nuts and buy some nice, fresh linen.

It will be a little taste of luxury in among the whirlwind of share house living.

5. Toilet paper

If those aforementioned stand-offs do take place, try have a stack of loo paper up your sleeve – nothing quite like running out of toilet paper when you most need it.

6. Cleaning supplies

Stock up on all the essentials to ensure a clean and liveable space: Think detergent, toilet cleaner, window cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, sponges, scrubbing brushes – you name it.

7. Mirror

To avoid getting stuck in the bathroom queue when all you need to do is fix your hair, BYO mirror to your new abode.

8. Vacuum cleaner or broom

A tidy home’s a happy home.

If you’re confident enough to bring one of these into your new share house, why not suggest a cleaning roster too?

9. Garbage bags

Running out of garbage bags is just plain annoying – have a solid stack on the go and store under the sink.

Particularly for those moments when the garbage is full to the brim and you need to double bag.

10. Webber

Having access to a Webber or small barbecue in your new share house means you can whip up healthy, easy meals, share communal dinners with your flatmates and enjoy some laid-back entertaining.

11. A good wok

If you love to cook a good wok or deep, non-stick frying pan is essential.

12. Wine glasses

Sure you’re share housing, but it doesn’t mean you need to skimp on everything.

Pick up some affordable wine glasses – and if they break, don’t stress. There’s always the less classy option of drinking out of a mug.

13. Cushions or throws

Hating that brown couch with stains all over it?

Invest in a nice throw or liven it up with some colourful cushions. You’ll be glad you did.

For more information click here.

9 Reversible Rental Makeover

You don’t need to own your house to make it feel like home.

A combination of high interest rates and peaking property prices means there are more Australians living in rental properties than ever before. If you’re going to be renting your home for the foreseeable future, here are a few adjustments and improvements that you can make without upsetting your landlord or damaging the property.

1. Door handles & doors

Most door handles are easily removable, which means there’s no need to put up with unattractive door, cupboard or cabinet handles. Most hardware stores will have a decent range of handles, so you can simply take the old ones in for sizing and replace them with stylish new ones.

The same applies to sliding doors – if there’s an oppressive, chunky wooden sliding door in your lounge room that you really don’t like, just replace it with something more to your liking. Most sliding door rails are a standard size, so you should be able to slip a new door in easily and store the old one in the garage until you move out.

2. Curtains & blinds

One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to update a rental is to buy modern curtains and blinds. If your window sizes are a standard size, you can purchase ready-made blinds and curtains that will fit perfectly; just remember to store the old ones until you move out. You can even take the blinds to your next house, provided the windows are also of standard size.

3. Tension shelves & rods

Tension shelves and rods are a renter’s dream, particularly in small apartments. They’re held in place with pressure, which means you can have extra storage, racks and rails without damaging the walls. You can also take them with you leave.

4. Leaning shelves

Check out Danish or Swedish design stores for clever shelving options. As leaning shelves will only touch a small portion of the wall, they’re perfect for properties with strict requirements about damage – the less the furniture touches the walls, the less damage there will be.

5. Lighting fixtures

Ugly light shades and fixtures can diminish the decor of your home, but thankfully they’re really easy to replace. Look online for vintage designer fixtures or visit a lighting store for something more modern. Again, make sure you hang on to the old fixtures so you can restore the property to its original form before you move out.

6. Temporary wallpaper

There are many innovative design companies that have developed removable wallpaper options. Some wallpapers are in the form of adhesive stickers, while others are designed to be glue-free and simply hang from the ceiling.

There are also a few companies that are working with washable wall colours – you simply paint the colour of your choice onto the walls and wash it off before you move out. Ask a professional at your local hardware store to see what’s available in your area.

7. Drawer liners

If your house comes with built-in storage, you might want to do a little renovation on the drawers and cupboards. Give them a good clean, scatter some fresh mothballs around and put pretty drawer liners in. They’ll give you a lovely clean place to store your clothes and you can simply throw the liners away when you leave.

8. Click-together flooring

If you can’t stand looking at the brown-and-orange-swirled lino in your rental kitchen any longer, you might want to consider click-together flooring. Most hardware stores stock different brands and styles of this miracle product, and it really is as easy as it sounds – you just click the tiles or slats together to totally change the flooring in your home. This is another genius renovation option that you can take with you when you move house.

9. Adhesive hooks

Adhesive hooks can be used to hang art, mount small shelves and create storage solutions without damaging the walls, making them essential for renters. Pro tip: buy a respected brand that has positive reviews. Also make sure that you follow the instructions – if they say to wait three hours before hanging your picture, wait three hours.

Note: Make sure you get the landlord’s permission before making any alterations. Most landlords won’t mind but it’s always safe to check.

For more information click here.

Preparing Your Home To Rent

Preparing your own home for other people to rent is not as simple as just moving out and putting a for lease sign out the front.

There are several things you should consider before letting strangers pay for the privilege of living in your castle.

So, why prepare your home to rent?

A properly prepared home will not only fetch a better weekly rent, and attract a better tenant, it will also help ensure the whole rental process is simple and easy from start to finish.

There are things an owner would be happy to live with, knowing they could be fixed in time, that a renter wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – have to deal with. And there are also some alterations that could make your home more appealing and stand out from the crowd – or even get your more rent.

So here’s our checklist of what you should consider before renting out your home.

If it’s broke, fix it

From the letterbox to the back fence, and everything in between, carry out any repairs to make sure your home is in tip top condition. This also applies to anything small that you’ve just grown used to living with, like mouldy bathroom grout, leaking washers, dripping taps, broken tiles or chipped paint. A small repair or some maintenance now could save you a bigger problem in the future.

Inclusions

Think about what you will be leaving behind or letting the tenants use and make sure it’s in good working condition. For instance, if your kitchen has space for a dishwasher, it’s usually best to leave it as it can add value. Or if your laundry has a particular shaped space for a built in washing machine you might be better to leave it rather than expect a tenant to buy their own.

Read more: What you need to know about being a landlord

Clean

You want your property handed back to you in good condition, so set the initial benchmark high. Just as you would if you were going sell, before you rent out your property give it a good spring clean and make sure it’s sparkling. Don’t just do the basics – we’re talking a proper spring clean including:

  • Carpets;
  • curtains and blinds;
  • flyscreens;
  • windows;
  • garbage bins;
  • garage and more.

Presentation

Prospective tenant

s are the same as prospective buyers – they’ll be more attracted to a well-presented property So while you might not want to go so far as to get the property stylists in, make sure you do your best to have it looking great for the photos and that it is tidy for any viewings.

Don’t forget the outside

Is the letterbox in need of repair? Are the gutters clean? Is the fence in good condition? Are there any pests or insects you need to deal with? And make sure you mow, sweep, rake, prune and have the garden looking tip top.

Add value

New paint, carpet and light fittings can be a cheap but effective way to update a property. Adding heating and cooling like reverse cycle air conditioning can potentially add value to a rental property. And so can a new bathroom or kitchen if the old one is very outdated but you’ll need to do your own cost benefit analysis and work out how long it will take to recoup the initial outlay. Your property manager or agent can best advise you on your particular situation.

Insurance

You’ll need to let your insurance company know you’re no longer living there and arrange landlords insurance. Your tenant will probably want to get contents insurance and many companies require door and window locks to be of a certain standard.

Read more: What makes a good landlord

The fine print

Think about whether any aspect of your property might not meet current regulations or safety guidelines. For example, this could include pool fences, stairs, railings, balconies, blinds and curtains, glass and windows. Does the property meet electrical and water efficiency standards under your local Residential Tenancies Act? Landlords are also usually required to provide smoke detectors. Check the laws relevant to your property with your property manager or real estate agent.

Naturally the whole rental process will be easier if you choose a good property manager or real estate agent to do the negotiation for you, take away the headaches, and draw upon their expertise.

For more information click here.

Getting to the front of the rental queue

THE modern rental market has changed a lot since the “good old days”.

Aussie renters used to mostly be share housing students and young couples biding their time until they began working or had saved up enough to put a deposit down on their own home.

Of course, in those days, a single income was enough to pay off a mortgage and support a family of four or five.

Thirty years ago, the average house price was three to four times as much as the median annual income, while today that ratio has blown out.

In capitals like Sydney, a house is closer to ten times the average household income. It is little surprise then that, whether by choice or necessity, renters have grown into a diverse group.

We are seeing downsizers, older couples and single professionals verge into the rental market, while share house types are no longer the old stereotypical arts student trying to start a band but adults of all ages.

There are benefits to renting. It is generally cheaper than paying off a mortgage and your landlord pays your emergency repair bills. You will just have to get used to the idea of paying off someone else’s home loan and facilitating their equity gain.

But deciding to rent is only the beginning. It can be hard to find a place close to the city or a university, since these suburbs attract short-term residents and plenty of competition. Units near the beach are usually also snapped up quickly for the lifestyle.

If you’re flying solo, consider renting a studio apartment. These are small, affordable and in less demand than bigger apartments.

But if you can’t handle compact spaces, look at how you can win over a landlord. First, steer clear of the market between January and March as the beginning of the year is when people start new jobs and move to new areas, so you’ll have more competition.

On the flip side, turning up on a day when everyone else is otherwise occupied, like near the holiday period can mean you have a better chance of securing the rental. I once rented a very nice apartment in a tough market by being the only one at the inspection just a few days out from Christmas.

Next, get your application and references sorted in advance so you can turn up to an open inspection ready to sign a lease. You don’t want to be up against someone who is ready to sign, only to have to go away and spend days getting rental references together.

The name of the game is ‘rental income’ as far as a landlord is concerned, so if you can, offer a few months’ rent in advance to show you are serious and financially reliable. Finally, if you are happy to stay put for a while, offer to sign a long-term lease, perhaps 18 months or two years.

Landlords love the security and might even agree to lower the rent slightly for the peace of mind.

For more information (click here)

Six Minor Mistakes That Cause Tenants To Lose Bond Money

One of the more stressful situations for any tenant moving out of a rental is waiting to hear whether you’ll get your bond back.

And there’s good reason for the stress. Only about half of tenants receive a refund on their bond, new data shows.

In 2015/16 one in 10 tenants did not receive any of their bond back, while 35 per cent only received some of their bond back, the latest Rental Bond Board Annual Report shows.

This could be due to small issues in the home overlooked by tenants – even after a routine clean and moving out your furniture there are often issues that can eat into your bond, Amy Sanderson general manager for property management at LJ Hooker said.

“I would recommend speaking to the property manager and asking for their recommended cleaner to come in and do a bond clean. The cost can vary from [a few hundred] upwards depending on the size of the property and how clean it is,” Ms Sanderson said.

Understanding your obligations under the tenancy agreement is critical, but for those who do decide to clean themselves, rental experts said tenants should pay particular attention to several key areas.

1) Forgotten fans and filters
At the top of the list were fans, filters and unseen parts of the property that can get particularly dirty during a 12-month tenancy.

In particular, “exhaust fans are a common case of out-of-sight and out-of-mind,” Terri Scheer Insurance executive manager Carolyn Parrella said.

“From our experience, tenants sometimes overlook the cleanliness of their exhaust fans which are prone to attracting lint and dust in bathrooms and oil and grease in kitchens,” she said.

Ms Sanderson agreed a proper clean of the exhaust fans was critical and they can “usually go in the dishwasher” but was commonly overlooked.

2) Oven and dishwasher cleaning
It might seem counter-intuitive, but dishwashers frequently need cleaning, Rachael Byrne senior property manager of Queensland-based Jean Brown Properties said.

“For the dishwasher running a cleaner through, pulling the filters out and also cleaning the internal trims [is necessary],” Ms Byrne said.

Property managers will also look inside the oven when inspecting a property, Ms Parrella said.

“A landlord or property manager is within their rights to open and inspect the oven, so they should be clean and free from food splatters, overflow or built up grease and oil,” she said.

The range top should also be clean for the next tenant, Just Think Real Estate principal Edwin Almeida said.

“A lot of people don’t realise gas stove top burners come apart and disassemble for cleaning.”

3) Pet-related dirt
Those with pets in their rental property should also take special care to clean up after them, Ms Parrella said.

“Buy a good quality vacuum … while a landlord or property manager might allow pets at the property, it is generally on the basis the property remains free from pet fur and mess,” she said.

In particular, dirt can accrue “in door tracks and on skirting boards” that can quickly be cleaned by a tenant, Mr Almeida said.

Damage outside from pets should also be attended to.

4) Mould issues
Another issue that should be tackled sooner rather than later is any sign of mould in a rental property.

Ms Sanderson warned this could be a result of failing to ventilate a home properly during the tenancy, so should be attended to well before moving day. This is particularly a problem in the bathroom, where tenants should “leave the window open a couple of inches,” she said.

Ms Parrella also encouraged tenants to thoroughly scrub shower screens, grout in bathrooms and other wet areas to remove bacteria.

5) Incomplete gardening and outdoor maintenance
Tenants in houses with the benefit of a yard may have some work ahead of them to get their property in tip-top condition to vacate, Ms Byrne said.

“For tenants that have a pool and pool maintenance is not included in their lease have you properly cleaned the filters and the cell?”

Ms Parrella also said it was important to maintain the garden as best possible, despite wilted plants being part and parcel of a hot Australian summer.

“Some leases make the tenant responsible for maintaining the backyard while others may have a gardener included in the lease. Make sure you know where you stand,” she said.

6) Damage and marks on walls and doors
The final issue most tenants will find themselves needing to attend to is any dirt or damage to walls and doors that wouldn’t be considered wear and tear.

Spot cleaning around lights switches, on door handles and internal doors would make a big difference at inspection time, Ms Byrne said. Cleaning blinds and skirting boards were also high on the list of issues for departing tenants.

“I would also advise all tenants to take a full set of entry photos when completing the entry condition report and keep them in their own files … you should be taking the same amount of care and time completing the exit condition report as you did completing the entry condition report,” she said.

(Article courtesy of Domain.com.au)

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