How to deal with the main types of tenant requests
You’ve just settled on a tenant to move into your property, but just when you think everything is done, popped the champagne and about to take a sip, the property manager calls and says there’s an urgent repair request from the tenant and it’ll cost you to get it fixed. Sound familiar?
Yep, as soon as a tenant moves in the battle between tenant and landlord begins!
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At the end of the day, you want to keep the tenant happy because they're the one helping you to pay the mortgage, but at same time you are also not going to say yes to all the requests they put forward.
There is a fine balance in managing tenant requests, and I thought I'll share my personal experiences in dealing with the managing agents and tenant requests.
1. Requests that are related to safety compliance/issue
These are the type of requests that as a landlord you should prioritise as it relates to safety concerns of the tenant. For example, smoke alarm for fire safety, or replacing a rotten handrail/balustrade, or wooden stairs (for a highset house).
They are pretty self-explanatory – if you don't do it, it could have much more serious consequences. Especially if the tenant is injured because of the safety defect, then the tenant could take landlord to court (for non-compliance to minimum safety standards).
Therefore my advice on any request related to safety issue – get it fixed ASAP. It's the cost of doing business. If the quote is expensive, you may like to get a second quote for comparison purposes, but just be mindful the longer the delay the higher the risk to tenant, especially if it's something that the tenant will have to use every day.
2. Requests that will benefit the tenant and may potentially increase rent during the next rent review
These are the type of requests that are not a threat to safety or compliance, but more of an improvement in nature. A couple of examples of these type of request include:
- Installing fly screens to windows;
- Installing ceiling fans in bedrooms; and
- Installing mirror wardrobe in bedrooms.
The feasibility of these request can be assessed by the potential increase in rent. For example, by spending $600 to install ceiling fans for three bedrooms is there an opportunity to increase the rent by $5 a week? This would be a question for your property manager.
If the rent can be increased by $5/week, then how long would it take to claw back the initial investment? In this case that would be $600/$5 = 120 weeks or about two years and three months in order to claw back the initial investment.
3. Requests that will improve property value in the long run
These are the type of requests that are again not a threat to safety or compliance. They are usually higher in value, and are geared more towards capital improvement in nature. A couple of examples of these type of request include:
- Replacing existing floor covering with new floor covering; and
- Replacing air conditioning, cooktop or oven.
As these are higher in value, landlords are usually less inclined to proceed unless it's absolutely necessary. For example, the carpet may have been damaged beyond the point restoration so new floor covering should be considered.
One way of looking at these types of request is to see whether there is a potential to increase rent, and to assess the likelihood to improve on the property value (if revalued) and therefore an opportunity to increase equity on the property.
Again, you can check with your trusted property manager to get their advice on the likelihood of rent increase and potential value increase before making a call.
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