Be the last landlord standing!

Fiona Ruth

There are two ways to increase the profitability of your investment property - Capital Growth and Increased Yield.

You can fast track both of these methods with a cost effective makeover. As a landlord, you are a “service provider” and therefore your success will be determined by the level of service you offer your clients (tenants). I recommend that landlords budget for a face-lift to their property approximately every five years to keep it up to standard. Tenants respect a pleasant environment and are more likely to keep up standards if high standards have been set from the start of the tenancy. When preparing for an upgrade to your property, I recommend that you not only see where you can add value (for capital growth) but where you can give value to your tenants.

Tenants are willing to pay higher rent for a more appealing property with added extras. So when planning your makeover, put yourself in the tenants shoes and imagine if you were going to move into your property, what things would be high on your priority list? WHAT IMPROVEMENTS ADD THE MOST VALUE?

Repairs and maintenance

Replace leaky taps Have the property professionally cleaned throughout Fix or replace all broken items Repair and improve faults in the kitchen and bathroom areas Paint the property inside and out (if you clean the walls thoroughly, you may only need one coat of paint to freshen up)

Gardens

Give the garden a tidy up. If you make the garden as low maintenance and easy to look after as possible it will be easy for the tenant to maintain that standard for you. Remove all dead and ugly plants, shrubs etc and weeds. Invest in good quality weedmat for your garden beds, plant hardy plants that need little water and then mulch the garden beds to finish off. In these days of water restrictions, having vast areas of dead and dying lawn is not appealing and lets face it your new tenant will have no incentive to keep the lawn watered, weeded, fertilised, mowed etc because

  1. They have to pay for water use and
  2. They usually do not have the garden equipment necessary to keep up the maintenance.

Think about reducing lawn with a combination of garden beds (mulched), pebbles, paving and maybe even some artificial lawn. Once artificial lawn is down it never has to be watered, weeded, fertilised or mowed ever again and it will always look fabulous.

Flooring

Dirty stained carpets really devalue your property. You can get them steam cleaned, but usually the stains reappear very quickly. I advise pulling up old, worn carpets and replacing them with a combination of tiles and floating floors. If you are lucky enough to have floorboards under the carpet, get them sanded and polished. These types of flooring are easy to maintain and once again add huge value to your property. Spills to floors are an everyday occurrence which can’t be prevented but if the flooring is easy for the tenant to care for and maintain, then your flooring will stay in good condition.

Window Treatments

Get rid of old and daggy curtains and replace with Venetian blinds. They are very cost effective and immediately give a property a feeling of being modern and spacious.

Lighting

I recently arranged new light fittings for a client’s investment property that only had bare light bulbs. I purchased domed oyster lights for under $10 each for the whole house which gave the house an immediate lift and cost less than $200.

General

Make your property work on a practical level by putting in some finishing touches like mirrors, hooks on the back of doors, shelves, and storage solutions.

Heating and cooling.

Tenants are always willing to pay higher rent for a property that has air conditioning and heating. Update appliances – replace old stoves, and old hot water systems. Tenants are just like you – they want to start their day with a strong, hot shower. I helped an interstate client with a property makeover last year and the one thing we didn’t check was the hot water system. The tenants were in the property for less than a week before they complained about the lack of pressure and heat in the shower. Turned out it was the old style drip storage water heater in the ceiling. The Landlord had no choice but to replace the system because the tenants threatened to move straight out if it wasn’t fixed.

Those that treat tenants with respect and give value and add value at every turn will be the last Landlord standing!