Worms Farms or Portable Compost Units – the Choice is Yours…
The absence of a backyard does not need to mean the end for effective waste reduction strategies in your home. Sure, the abundance of exterior turf, soil and garden space sure does make the job easier. The proximity of your neighbours in unit living is another factor to consider, as is the space you have for your plants and the volume of waste to usage ratio.
But with a little imagination and the help from some innovative waste reduction products on the market, unit living need not be a hindrance to your environmental efforts. The implementation of your chosen waste reduction and composting option will mean effective use of your waste, happier plants and a happier and healthier environment.
So we have chosen two simple and effective options for unit dwelling waste reduction.
PORTABLE COMPOST SYSTEMS
Thanks to some clever companies, composting when living in an apartment is very much achievable. The Bokashi One is a compact, eco-friendly composting system designed for use within your kitchen. The combination of the 410mm high, 310mm wide and 300mm deep bucket with the Bokashi One mix, can hold approximately 19 litres of food waste. The airtight lid and small size means you can store the Bokashi One conveniently in your kitchen with minimal odour issues.
Once broken down, the nutrient-rich compost and juice can be extracted for use on your balcony garden and plants. For those with excess compost and liquid, the small and portable nature of the Bokashi means you can travel with the system to a nearby friend of family garden and share the love. Their garden will thank you for it!
The beauty about worms is that they will thrive anywhere! It doesn’t matter if you live in a house, duplex, high-rise or country farm. With the right environment and conditions, you can keep any worm happy. There is an abundance of information available on how to start a worm farm. As well as many stores (aka – Bunnings) where you can buy a starter worm farm kit. Check out the Australian Government Energy Savings page on building your first worm farm and things to consider.
See which waste reduction option is best for you. Before you know it, your balcony will be the talk of the town.
When is the best time to renovate your investment property?
The reality of owning on investment property is that there will be maintenance requirements at some stage. The question arises, when is the best time to schedule investment property renovations? What is the best way to carry out works without putting out your tenants and losing out financially? It really comes down to the level of work, ease of access, tenant relationships and income requirements.
There are a couple of scenarios on offer and questions to ask and we look at the pros and cons of each.
Scenario #1 – Renovate whilst Tenanted
Carrying out maintenance whilst tenanted can be a seamless exercise if managed correctly. Ensuring you give adequate notice to your tenants to allow for access and rearrangement of any belongings or household items. Most small maintenance repairs you can arrange without too much inconvenience to tenants. You may require more extensive planning for larger renovations.
How much access will you require?
What is the scope of works?
Will the property be liveable throughout the renovations?
Is there a need to vacate for reasons such as asbestos removal?
Will there be access to kitchen and bathroom facilities throughout the renovation?
If there are major works to be done whilst tenanted with considerable effects on your tenants, you may need to consider a drop in rent or paying for alternate accommodation whilst works are being carried out.
Scenario #2 – Renovate Between Tenants
The alternate option is to carry out major renovation works between tenancy agreements. This will firstly allow for easy access at times that suit you and your tradespeople. It also means less inconvenience for prospective tenants. Secondly, it is also beneficial when advertising for new tenants as they can benefit from a new and improved property.
The main downfall of renovations between tenants is the rent shortfall. This shortfall therefore needs to be taken into account in your budget allocations.
Investment property renovations really depend on your current situation and current tenancy arrangements. So discuss them with your financial advisor and property manager before carrying out any major works.
Spring is upon us and with it comes the need to dust off those winter blues and breathe some live back into your home. Now if spring cleaning isn’t your thing, then we narrowed it down to the 10 top spring cleaning tasks you can do that will most benefit your home and banish those winter blues away.
Our Top 10 Spring Cleaning Tips
Ditch the woolens
The cooler nights are a thing of the past to ditch the woolen doonas and blankets and replace with your lighter, summer options.
Pillows can harvest a large amount of bacteria and be bad for our health. It is recommended to replace your pillows every 6-12 months for health and hygiene purposes. Plus it will reduce any mustiness around your bed.
If you feel material things are starting to overtake your space, take the opportunity to declutter. Grab a big garbage bag and fill it with items you haven’t used or touched within the last 3 months.
Lighten your tones
Spring means bright and fresh tones and soft colour palettes. Reach for the soft peach and light blue or green tones to instantly brighten any area. Move away from those darker winter tones that have accentuated the last 3 months.
Take one room at a time
Clean one room well before you move on to the next. One sparkling, gleaming room will give you the satisfaction and motivation to move on to the next.
Dust first, vacuum second
There are many times where we have been halfway through a vacuum only to realise we skipped the dusting. Dust first, vacuum and mop second to avoid creating more work.
Brighten rooms with plants
Bring the outside in! Spring sees the flowers start to bloom and plants prosper. Bring living things inside to instantly brighten and freshen any space.
Reduce the mustiness
Take out your throws and cushions outside and give them a good dusting. Hang throws over the line to air for a day or two. Give them some fresh air and a chance to rid the mustiness of winter.
Wash curtains or clean venetians
Breathe some life back into your curtains and drapes for the new season. Ensure to follow washing directions carefully as not to damage curtain fabrics. If you have venetians, dust and wipe off the winter residue for a fresh and clean look for your windows.
Fill your home with Spring scents
Nothing says Spring more than some sweet floral scents. Whether it is from fresh flowers, candles or essential oils, a beautiful Spring scent will lift the feel of your home.
So that’s our top 10 tips to have your home looking, feeling and smelling like Spring this season.
When it comes to renting with pets, there are 5 golden rules to obey. Following these rules will ensure you and your pet have a long and harmonious tenancy agreement with your landlord. When it comes down to it, it is really just commonsense. The same rules apply to renting with pets as it would be for renting with humans. The rules are pretty consistent. It all comes down to respect. Respect for yourself, the property and your landlord. If you keep that in mind, these rules are pretty straightforward.
Always seek permission
Before you think about applying for a property, or heading to your local pound or pet store, seek permission for your landlord. All tenancy agreements should clearly state whether pets are acceptable. If unclear, always seek permission first. It is a lot easier to seek permission and be granted a yes or no before you have moved in or have that cuddly new puppy in your arms.
Follow the rules
As with allowing pets, your tenancy agreement may state whether pets are allowed indoors or outdoors only. These requests are there for a reason. If your landlord requests outdoor pets only, ensure to oblige. Most pet-friendly properties will have secure backyards that are fully fenced so your pet can be safe and comfortable. If the property is not fully enclosed and there is a threat to the safety of your pet, it may not be the best property for you. So continue your search.
Clean up after your pet
This is another commonsense request really. Similar as your landlord would expect you to keep the premises clean and tidy. Same goes for your pet. Clean up after their messes in the backyard. If they are allowed indoors, ensure any pet hair is cleaned regularly. Where carpet stains occur, clean them straight away to prevent permanent stains. If they dig and tear up the yard, ensure to replace holes and grass where you can once this phase passes.
Keep nuisance noise down
For your neighbours, there is nothing more irritating than a nuisance barker. If you intend on leaving your dog for long periods, ensure they have been sufficiently excercised prior to your departure. This will mean they are happy to sleep in contentment until your return. Bordeom busters and chew toys do help, but they are not a long-term solution. Domestic pets love company. If left for long periods of time you could have a nuisance barker/howler/crier on your hands. And some grumpy neighbours.
Contain your pets
This gets particularly tricky when cats are involved. Where your landlord allows pets at your property, this doesn’t mean your neighbours want them too. If you have a dog, ensure the backyard is fully enclosed with no gaps for escape. If a cat is your pet of choice, ensure they aren’t nuisance roaming the streets and other neighbour’s homes throughout the day and evening on the hunt for food.
For pet owners, finding a rental property that accepts pets can be a nightmare. Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the whole bunch. All one landlord needs is a single irresponsible pet owner as a tenant to put them off for life. But it needn’t be the case.
Put your best paw forward
When it comes to renting with pets, it’s all about being smart and upfront. Honesty is the best policy. Show your prospective landlord that you are a responsible pet owner. Be as upfront with your pet’s details as you would your own. The more information, the better. Your landlord will be comfortable in knowing everything about you and your pet as opposed to finding things out the hard way.
We recently received this highly adorable and highly commendable ‘Pet Resume’ for Doug the Pug. And can we say how well received it was by our office as well as by the prospective landlords. Not only have they presented Doug the Pug in the best way possible, they have outlined everything a landlord would want to know about an incoming pet.
Answer all the Questions
The owners of Doug the Pug were smart. They predicted and answered all the questions a landlord would want to know.
How old is Doug?
What breed is Doug?
How often is Doug alone during the day?
When he is alone, where does he reside?
Does he sleep inside or out?
Does he obey commands?
Is Doug toilet trained?
Does he shed?
Does he nuisance bark?
Any other additional notes from the owner.
Submit your Pet Resume with your Application
Submitting your Pet Resume with your rental application will improve your chances of securing your next rental property. The bottom line is, some landlords will not accept pets no matter how adorable they are. The other half will. So in summary, work on your chances of convincing the other half that your pooch or pet is the pick of the litter when it comes to pet tenants.
As a landlord, finding good tenants is half the battle. But sometimes, once the perfect tenant is found, there is the tendency to sit back and hope the tenancy continues on without any hitches. The other half of the battle is keeping good tenants.
As landlords, we can fail to continue to put in the hard yards to ensure our tenants stay on. It is important to acknowledge that the race is not won once the chase is over. By taking the time and putting some extra effort into your tenant/landlord relationship, you’ll be on the right track to ensuring the long-term viability of your tenancy contract and continued tenant retention.
So, what are these magical tenant retention strategies we speak of?
Attending to maintenance requests promptly
One of the key points in keeping your tenants happy is to act quickly and effectively to all maintenance requests. As a tenant, there is nothing worse than a leaking shower or broken oven. It goes without saying that urgent repairs such as burst pipes or gas leaks should illicit and urgent response. For your tenant’s sake, responding to the smaller, more mundane requests as efficiently as the urgent ones will result in an appreciative, and happy tenant.
Regular rental increases rather than large lump sums
Tenants understand there is the possibility of rent hikes throughout their tenancy. However, most tenants, like the rest of us, work to a budget that includes their rent as one of their major expenses. Any major rent hikes that are far and above their current rate will no doubt throw their budget out. Keeping rent rises small will help keep your tenant’s budget in check and more affordable. Small, more regular rises are a lot easier to swallow than one lump sum.
Keeping your rent slightly below market value will also work towards keeping tenants on for the long term. They can see there is added value in your property when compared with others on the market.
Open lines of communication
This point ties in nicely with Point #1 in keeping open lines of communication between landlord and tenant. No matter what the enquiry. This will help build a solid relationship built on trust and respect with your tenant, which will work well for you in the long run.
Choosing the right property manager (Hint hint!)
Choosing the right property manager who works for you is one of the most important choices you can make. The right property manager can help select the most well-suited tenants and work as the intermediary between landlord and tenant. Finding the right property manager you can trust will work for you and your property is key in the whole process.
Good tenant retention will not only ensure your property is well maintained and cared for, but it will also save your hip pocket in the long term. The costs involved with tenancy changeover including letting fees and lost rent when vacant all add up. Taking the extra time to nurture your existing tenants and putting in some tenant retention strategies in place will result in happy landlords, happy property managers and happy tenants.
As of 30th January this year, new changes came to the Residential Tenancy Act 2010 came into place with the introduction of Rental Bonds Online. The introduction of the new online rental bonds system has created a secure and reliable method for tenants, agencies and landlords to lodge, manage and refund bond payments.
For landlords and tenants, registration to the new online rental bonds system is mandatory. Tenants must also now be invited to use the new online system. For tenants, the registration process is quick and easy. The system is easy to navigate and makes the entire bond process more streamlined and effective.
No longer do tenants need to chase up their bond refund once their tenancy has ended. Vice versa for landlords at the commencement of a new tenancy agreement. The new system does it all for you.
The new system will create your personalised account with Rental Bonds Online. You can access at any time of day for up-to-date, real time progress of your bond.
The new system allows you to:
Pay your bond directly to NSW Fair Trading with BPAY, Visa or Mastercard
Check the status and progress of your bond lodgement or refund
Receive email and SMS phone notifications related to your bond
Once your tenancy is at its end, submit a claim online to get a refund of your bond money
The introduction of the new online system will streamline all rental bond transactions. There is less double handling between tenants, landlords, agencies and the Department of Fair Trading. It creates a more transparent and smooth bonds process that is much easier for both parties involved.
As a tenant, you are no doubt going to come across the need for maintenance on your leased property. Whether for a broken window latch, a wobbly fan, leaking tap or something more serious like a burst pipe or gas leak. It is more than likely going to happen.
As a tenant, the best habit to get into is the accurate reporting of any scheduled and emergency maintenance performed on the property. Accurately reporting maintenance requirements and the scheduled performed activities including who, where and when, ensures you are covering all bases in regards to your responsibilities as a tenant. Your property managers will also be super excited to have a well-organised and flexible tenant.
So, what are the best things you can do when arranging scheduled or urgent maintenance?
Report the required repairs in writing to your property manager
When we say in writing, we mean via email. Sending important information to your property manager via text message is a surefire way for them to lose your request. With constant communications back and forth between tenants and landlords, text messages can easily be overlooked. Sending your request via email ensures the information is kept on file and viewed within the office when it can be actioned immediately.
The more information the better!
Too much information about your required repair can never be enough. Include any photos and videos of the repairs required including any error messages on electronic equipment. All information regarding the product is helpful including the model and make. If the appliance/equipment has a sticker on it, snap a pic of the details and attach to your email.
Be flexible with access times
This is often a time of frustration for both tenants and property managers in arranging a suitable time to allow the designated tradesperson access. Being flexible with your days and times will ensure your required maintenance is performed promptly. Let us know if you are happy to arrange a time on your behalf and use our key to access your premises. If you prefer the tradesman calls you direct, ensure to answer as promptly as you can and arrange a time that suits both parties. Note that unless it is an emergency most trades cannot visit after hours – so being flexible here is key.
Ensure your contact details are up-to-date!
Making sure we have your correct contact details on file ensures that we can contact you and arrange your maintenance as quickly as possible. It is commonplace that we arrange repairs but tradesmen are left frustrated if they cannot contact you due to incorrect contact details.
A failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
A failure or breakdown of any essential service for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering
Any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
Serious damage from a natural disaster.
If you require an urgent repair, contact your agent to discuss immediately. In cases where you cannot contact your agent or after hours, contact the tradesman listed on your lease agreement directly.
If you cannot contact your listed lease tradesman, you are able to contact a tradesman of your choice to perform the urgent works. Only pay up to $1, 000 as this is the limit your agent can pay you for reasonable costs. This amount should be repaid to you after 14 days.
In any case, making contact with your agent is your best first step in the process. Whether it be for regular or urgent repairs.
There is nothing like spotting a big patch of spreading mould on your bathroom ceiling when you are relaxing in a nice, well deserved warm bath at the end of a hard working week. Or the terrible realisation that mould is spreading through your wardrobe quicker than you can say end of season sale.
WHAT IS MOULD AND WHY DOES IT LOVE MY HOUSE?
Mould loves warm and damp places, particularly in areas where the relative humidity is 80% or higher. It needs (and thrives) on moisture – most commonly found from condensation. Put these two things together and you have yourself the best recipe for mould on the street. Pity it’s the one thing you don’t want others seeking the recipe for.
Thankfully, it takes just a few simple steps to ensure mould doesn’t take hold in the first place or to stop it in its tracks. With the summer months halfway through and the cooler and darker months on their way, thinking about the health of your home is a good proactive practice to prevent future mould outbreaks.
STEPS TO PREVENT MOULD BECOMING YOUR NEWEST HOUSE GUEST
So we’ve established that mould doesn’t like warm and damp places, so let’s discuss what you can do to prevent these perfect places for mould to settle in.
Let in as much sunlight as possible
Letting sun in allows spaces to dry out and prevent moisture rich areas.
Keep good airflow
Open those windows! Let as much fresh air as possible into your home to ensure adequate ventilation.
Don’t store away wet belongings
Ensure any clothes you are hanging in your wardrobe are completely dry before you put them away. Any dampness will encourage those mould spores to grow and grow and grow. This becomes tricky as the cooler months kick in with less sunshine to dry clothes so be aware of this crucial point. Same goes for footwear – if you’ve got wet shoes, keep them outside in the sun until completely dry before storing away. Your wet clothes and shoes attract the green furry mould we’ve all seen before as opposed to the sooty mould you find in bathrooms and ceilings.
Keep condensation at bay
Wipe down wet areas especially anywhere condensation appears such as heaters and bathroom areas. Turn on your fans in your bathrooms when taking a shower or bath to ensure good ventilation throughout the room.
Being vigilant about keeping your home dry and free of damp will ensure you survive another mould-free year.
As property investors, we are always happy to stumble across ways to increase our tax return and consequently, our bottom line. So when there are simple techniques and actions you can take to ensure your investment is working its hardest for you – we want you to know about it.
This week it is depreciation schedules. For those seasoned investors, depreciation schedules are stock standard. But for those who are new to the property investment game, we have broken them down to the basics, to ensure you are armed with the best information regarding your investment property as we zoom towards EOFY.
WHAT IS A DEPRECIATION SCHEDULE AND DO I NEED ONE?
A depreciation schedule is a report by a qualified surveyor that determines the value left in your property, which is then handed to your accountant at tax time to reduce your taxable income.
There are two types of depreciation that can be claimed.
Plant and Equipment
Think of the equipment that is inside the property such as dishwashers, fridges, washing machines, carpets and blinds.
Think of everything it took to build the property including bricks, mortar, concrete, render etc.
Both the depreciation of the plant and equipment and the building can be assessed by a qualified surveyor and combined to reduce your taxable income. It is a commonly overlooked, yet such a simple task that can drastically increase your bottom line and fill your pockets come tax time.
The short answer if you need one? Yes.
WHEN SHOULD I GET A DEPRECIATION SCHEDULE DONE?
Whether your home is old, been renovated or is brand new, you are entitled to claim depreciation.
The best time to call in your property surveyor is right after settlement prior to accepting your first tenant. (Realestate.com.au) Your surveyor can assess your property. They will provide an up-to-date assessment on the value of both plant, equipment and building. These values will effectively collate your yearly depreciation schedule. Depreciation schedules can take up to three weeks to prepare. Book a surveyor now to ensure you are ready come tax time and beat the last minute rush.
ONE LAST NOTE
Depreciation schedules are 100% tax deductible. So every move you make is working for your bottom line. So get cracking and book your depreciation schedule today and get the most out of tax time.