Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Investment Property Owner....

Firstly, I need to give you some credentials here.

We've been renting for many many years, and in that time, we've accrued a staggering number of glowing references.

Our current property manager loves us. We have people asking us if we'll consider renting their properties. (sadly, none of them have so far been in a place where we want to live)

When we live in your house, we will keep the rent paid up well in advance (by months, in fact).

We will re-plant, prune, fertilise, mulch, weed and mow.

We will patch old nail-holes, repair and replace torn curtains, clean the light-fittings, scrub funny marks off the walls, mend the fly-screens, re-stain those water-marked window ledges, re-lay the lumpy pavers, and clean those grotty stickers off the windows.
We'll leave your property in better condition than when we moved into it.
We'll even do these things out of our own pocket most of the time.

UNTIL -- you respond by putting our rent up by $10 a week and only granting us 6 month leases, when you agreed to 12.
For your measly $260 odd you have lost our goodwill.
From now on, everything that was damaged when we moved in here, will stay that way unless YOU pay for it.
And we will vacate this property as soon as our current lease is up, no matter how much we love living here.
If this house is untenanted for even one week, you've lost all the gains from the rent increase.

Dumb move.


This is what I think every investment property owner should know.

1. it is not your tenants' job to pay your property off. I know this is the attraction that draws most people into the property market, but if YOU can't service your mortgage yourself, you shouldn't be investing in it. You shouldn't charge rent based on what you need to ask for in order to service the debt.

2. while your tenants are living in the house, it is their home. If they are keeping it in a reasonable condition, and keeping up with the rent, cut them some slack. Make sure your Property Manager knows that you can live with a dusty aircon vent or a handmark on the lightswitch. Don't become so pedantic that you lose your tenants.

3. you need to keep up with repairs to hot water systems, air cons, plumbing, electrics, the stove, tree-pruning etc.
The house will eventually need to be re-painted. Blinds will eventually need to be re-placed.
You can't ask people to pay for living with a non-working stove, or a fire hazard of junk piled behind the shed, or faulty lights. Be prepared to spend money (lots of money) when it's necessary. If you can't afford to replace or repair as necessary, you shouldn't have an investment property

4. if you have good tenants, look after them. They're rare.

Are you a tenant? or an owner? have you had a terrible owner, or a terrible tenant? tell us about it.


  1. I hope you did actually send them a copy of this.

    A few times we have considered whether we would try and get an investment property but Sam refuses based on what we have seen of how tenants typically treat rentals (from when we have looked for rentals to live in) and based on the awful attitude of many landlords & property managers. He just dosent want to be a part of that. It didnt help when a load of people got into that book "rich dad, poor dad".

  2. I am a tenant. Our owner is pretty hard to budge on some things. When we signed the lease, there were two working open fire places. A week later we were informed that the fireplaces werent to be used, and that we had to use the electric heating, which is only in one room. When we asked if we could have the fireplaces fixed, we were met with a very firm "no". Our propery manager, though extremely nosey, is quite good on the inspection front. As long as things are clean and tidy, and she can see they arent damaged, shes not too worried about dust or finger prints, thankfully. She did ring a couple of days after Christmas and tell us to mow the lawns because she was "in the street" and noticed they were overgrown. Not the worst we've had though. We had an owner refuse to do any work on a bathroom that was falling apart from toxic mold!

  3. When we were renting (husband, son and myself are back living with my parents), we had a property agent who inspected every 6 months. And every time she complained because of little things like:
    "There were beer bottles in the garage"
    "Washing wasn't put away and was sitting on the couch"
    "Dishes from breakfast were in the sink"
    In general we kept a clean house, not always tidy, but it was clean.
    When we moved out she wanted to charge us because the oven was rusting and the wooden fence was rotting, never mind that it was in a better condition then when we moved in.
    Doesn't seem to matter in general though, there are more tenants than rental properties so the landlords/property agents seem to get away with these type of things, probably more than we realise.

  4. Send them a copy! Send them a copy! I can't believe they would treat such wonderful tennants with such disregard. More fool them. I would take good tenants over a tenner every single time. x

  5. Hate to play devils advocate here because I absolutely agree that an owner should look after a good tenant and do what they said they would do in terms of repairs and lease terms. But a lot of rents are increasing at the moment. Increase costs associated with owning a property mean that the contribution you pay in rent generally doesn't even coverage 40% of the mortgage and costs.

    You are my dream tenant. Come and live in my town. I'll hook you up. ;o)

  6. Oh Toni - what wonderful timing! I agree! We too rent and I consider us great tenants. We do all these types of things too; in fact I have even lived with bare walls (no pictures or photos - and we have LOADS!) for 2 years because I dont want to mark the beautiful paint work!
    Now just in the last month the certainly of my husbands job is unknown and our land agent wanted us to sign a fixed term lease. I told her we couldnt do that, however we had no intention of moving; in all likelyness we may stay another 2 years, we are just not in a position with 2 babies and me not working to commit, just in case. The last thing we want to do is not be able to pay rent! She then came back with threats of putting up the rent AND told me that by not signing a fixed term lease they would not be renewing the renters insurance, so if our house should accidently burn down in the next couple of months we would be liable.....

  7. You are a dream tenant. Good on you. I think we are dream landlords as we do everything on your list. All I expect is that the home is clean and tidy when you leave. What you do between now and then is your business, you have to live there. We've renovated bathrooms, decking, new appliances as soon as the need arises, have spent all our free time recently repainting and gardening, but unfortunately much of this has not been repaid by past tenants doing the basic right thing. Things like owning up to damage they did to a brand new garage door, broken windows, cracked door glass. But when they were broken into because of that (unbeknownst to us) broken window, we did foot the bill for a total change of locks on the whole house. We do our part, and there are fantastic tenants like you that do more than theirs.

    As it happens, we're currently looking for new tenants, want to move in??

  8. Alliecat, if only you had a house here I'd move into it in a heartbeat!
    I'd LOVE an owner like you.

    Carly -- good luck with the house hunting, I hope it goes well (and with your hubbys' work, too)

    Mel -- trying hard to think of a way to phrase a response that doesn't sound like I'm having a go at you, because I really do get what you're saying.
    Our owner increased our rent against advice from our property manager, and is letting basic maintenance on the house slide. If he can't afford it, he should sell it.

  9. Ok I am a landlord and we are blessed that my Mum rents from us and we basically give her a free hand and we repair and maintain as needed...however when we bought our property we had a tenant in the house who was like you Toni she did what she could under her own steam...but the previous owner wouldn't even fork out for paint or basic repairs which the tenant was happy to do IF he paid for the gear to do it....

    Too often landlords expect their 3 bedroom weatherboard dump to suddenly look like a palace when tenants move out. When we rent we always take photos of everything before we move in and give a copy of the photos to the agency so we have proof of the state of the property when we move in.

    Carly your Real Estate agent cannot threaten you with not renewing the insurance on the house. 99.99% of mortgages, especially investment properties, MUST have house insurance. YOU are not responsible for the house burning down you only need to have content insurance to protect your possessions!! Contact your local Tenants Advisory board and they can advise you further.

    Finally most people think if they buy an investment property the property will pay for itself...not going to happen. When we purchased ours we budgeted to be able to afford the house without a tenant in it PLUS rates etc. Too many people get greedy and over commit themselves...start small if you are going to invest and look after your tenents especially if they are good ones...

    Toni when my Mum falls off the perch you can rent my house!!!

    *Maree steps off her soap box*

  10. You sound like the prefect tenants. We owned an investment property prior to having kids, and we definitely would have preferred long term tenants like you rather than putting the rent up and risking losing our tenants. Your landlord clearly is not thinking at all.

  11. We lost a good neighbour due to investment owners like that.

    Our old neighbour was a really good family with a young daughter. They kept the property really really well. but the owner up the rent from $250 to $300 a week just because the family living there wanted them to installed an air cond because it gets really hot here in WA.

    Now... there are 2 bachelors living in the house, they have parties every weekend, they NEVER keep the house in shape and the garden, even a small one is filled with weeds! Who knows what might be luring there.

  12. We're renting at the moment, and we have tenants in our house so we're on both sides of the coin at the same time.

    I like to think our tenants have a good deal and that they're happy. I'd like it even more if they paid their rent on time though... just once... pretty please!!

    You sound like DREAM tenants!!

    Here, if I could just get my landlord to stop showing up ALL THE TIME, that would be nice too.

    By the way, thanks for my blog comment!! For some reason you can't see it though, it's just in the background for me to see. Very weird. Just wanted you to know I didn't delete it!!

  13. thankyou to everyone who responded to this post. For some reason, a few of you got caught in my spam filter and I only fished you out this morning!
    Sorry about that....

    It seems there is a need for a kind of dating service that matches up good owners and good tenants!


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