Is your property manager performing?

It’s often assumed that a property manager is in charge of just a few things: finding a suitable tenant, collecting their rent and checking-in often enough to ensure they’ve not destroyed the place.

But there’s so much more that a good property manager does behind the scenes in an effort to protect your cashflow and your investment. It’s important to understand exactly what their role is, in order to ensure you’ve got a good property manager representing your interests. Here is a shortlist of the most important things they should know and manage on your behalf:

  • Insurance
    A good property manager can advise you on the types of insurance you should consider as a landlord. You not only need building insurance, but also landlord’s insurance, which can provide a property owner with rental-specific protection – for example, in the event that a tenant (or their guest) causes deliberate damage to the property, your rental loss is covered. Your PM can keep these policies up to date, and even arrange payment on your behalf using rental income.
  • Smoke alarm compliance
    Ultimately, your property manager is there to minimise the risk of incidences that could potentially happen in a tenancy, and could cause blame to rest with the landlord. This includes smoke alarm testing, and your property manager needs to be aware of compliance and on top of any changes. Recent amendments to the Queensland smoke alarm legislation, for example, have put the responsibility of compliance solely on the property manager.

    Both the property manager and landlord must be aware of the requirements for all smoke alarms.
    These are:
  1. alarms need to be installed in each bedroom of a house
  2. powered by either 240-volt current with battery back-up or long life tamper-proof 10-year batteries
  3. interconnected (meaning each smoke alarm can ‘communicate’ with each other)
  4. photo-electric (which uses a light beam to help detect the presence of smoke).

Failure to adhere to something as important as this can have grave results.

  • Water usage
    Throughout Australia, legislation states that the landlord will be charged by their water supplier for all water usage, including service and connection charges. However, if the investment property is individually metered, they can then require the tenant to pay for their specific water usage. This is a task that should be handled by your PM, and can put several hundred dollars (or more, depending on usage) back in your bank account each year.
  • Legislation regarding pool fencing
    While all states in Australia have adopted the same national standard for the construction of new pool fences, they have significantly different approaches when it comes to existing pools and fencing. This creates uncertainty for landlords, and the lack of consistency allows for many pools and fences to be unregulated and below the national standard. Your property manager should be well aware of the expectations for all pool fences in their state and should advise you accordingly.

To any property investor who is considering being a DIY landlord, we strongly advise you to review this list again to gain an appreciation of just how much property managers do to protect your investment.

However, if your property manager isn’t performing, don’t be afraid to move on. It’s only a matter of paperwork to shift to a new provider, and when it comes to maximising and protecting your investment there’s no place for risks that could leave you exposed.