Property Maintenance and Insurance – Beachside Property Rentals

Liz Malthouse returns to Talkers.FM to talk about property maintenance, property insurance, and what it takes to be a trusted adviser to both property owners and tenants. Liz is the founder of Beachside Property Rentals, a well-known team of mobile property managers based on the Sunshine Coast.

For Liz, communication is the key to a successful partnership. She makes sure to act on a neutral ground between the owner and the tenant to avoid conflicts and to develop a good business relationship.

Beachside Property Rentals manages properties around Noosa Heads, Tewantin, Noosaville, Peregian Springs, Peregian Beach, Mount Coolum, Coolum Beach in Yaroomba and also out in the Hinterland, Cooroy, and Black Mountain.

Transcript

Wayne Bucklar: Today I’m joined by Liz Malthouse, Principle of Beachside Property Rentals in the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Australia. Liz, welcome to the show.

Liz Malthouse: Hi Wayne, how are you this week?

Wayne: I’m really well, thank you. Now Liz, you’re a mobile property manager. Why mobile?

Liz: Well we decided that we wanted to be accessible to our clients and you don’t really need an office for work from in today’s world. An office is the old way that I think people do real estate, especially in property management. Property managers are always in their car or if they are in an office they are in the back end, where no one can see them. We are breaking the mould, by  give that intimate relationship between our owner and our tenant, and being accessible and working towards connect with our client when needed. A good example of that is even this morning today, we had a tenant moving into a property so instead of meeting these tenants at an office, which is quite rushed as all as they are wanting to do it go to the property. We actually meet them at the property. Sit down, hand over the keys, do a little walk through the property, make sure that they’re comfortable with everything, they know how to use everything. So it’s more about doing something different than the typical mainstream property managers do. So mobile, why not? Our tenants love the attention to detail, and it shows that we care.

Wayne: Now this idea of doing something different, you don’t do the listing and selling and auctioning of your properties either, do you?

Liz: No, so purely property management. That’s my focus, that’s my passion, that’s my craft. Although I am fully licensed and I have got the same license as a sales consultant or a principal who owns a sales office, it’s just that I choose to purely focus on property management.

Wayne: And I guess it allows you to be an expert mmm-hmm sorry I won’t use that word I guess it allows you to be a trusted adviser to both property owners and landlords and tenants much more easily.

Liz: Absolutely. Because if someone’s looking at buying an investment property, I’m very neutral and I don’t get involved in the sales side of things although I have a few agents that I work with that do sales to give them added value to the properties that they’re selling. It’s an independent valuation I suppose and working with Investors gives them more confidence, that they are hearing the truth.  The role of a property manager is a mediator or a communicator between the owner and the tenant so my role is to be neutral. I’m governed by legislation and I have to, at times, make an owner aware of the legislation , so these items are addressed, or then again I have to talk to a tenant about an issue that they may have raised that is not legislated and it’s something that it’s not the owner’s responsibility to do so I’m like a sieve between an owner and a tenant.

Wayne: Now Liz in that role, one of the things that always seems to attract attention and make the news headlines is maintenance. What are your thoughts on maintenance for both tenants and owners?

Liz: Maintenance, it’s an interesting one. So when I first have a look at a property and I meet an owner at a property before it comes on my books, we have a chat, we have a walkthrough. We make recommendations of any items that needs attention, prior to a tenant moving in, as per the current legislation. Don’t forget a tenant is actually paying a weekly rent in order to have that brick and mortar that they call their own. In that process, for instance, if a light globe blows, well then there was a light globe in the socket then it’s the tenant’s responsibility because they’ve utilized that globe to replace it. If a hot water service blows, unfortunately, that’s part of for the owner’s obligation and they must actually replace that hot water service, whether it be we require a plumber to get a new service or it might just be we need an electrician because the thermostat may have gone. So it’s really important to not be afraid to have the discussion with your owners so that they’re abreast of what their actual obligations are. And different things do pop up from time to time, things like obligations that are a must , like is smoke alarms. Now smoke alarm is extremely important, who as an owner could imagine if a home catches fire and burns down and that’s your property and your tenants and someone dies, I couldn’t even think of anything worse – I’m quite fanatical of this. But then there’s a lot of people out there who are self-manage or they just think that there’s a smoke alarm in the system in the ceiling that it’s actually compliant. Unfortunately, it may not be the case. I’ve just put some other property that they’ve gone in today, we had the smoke alarms checked by a professional smoke alarm company and I don’t think a lot of people realise that smoke alarms do expire. And therefore, that will affect your insurance policy. If a property did burn down because of that, then it will null and void your insurance claim. In my opinion you need a confident property manager who is comfortable to talk to you of the obligations and why you go for professionals to look after, your  smoke alarms. Another example would be pool compliance. In Queensland, it’s quite big with pool compliance. Pools have to be tested in a residential home every two years and they must receive certification from a qualified pool certifier. With a body corporate complex, it’s only 12 months. They have to be recertified every 12 months. We’ve had a few drownings on the Sunshine Coast. When I do my routine inspections, some tenants leave the gates open so they allow their dogs or their kids go in and out, that’s highly illegal. And I cranked down on it straight away because who, again, who wants to see a drowning in their rental property? These rules that are government legislated have been put in place for a reason and they’re really important.

Wayne: You’ve raised a really interesting aspect there, Liz, with insurance. And I know with motorcars if you’re under the influence of alcohol and driving, your insurance may not cover you. Does it extend beyond fire alarms and swimming pools? I guess there are lots of things that occur to me that could make a landlord liable and maybe the insurers like to avoid having to pay if it’s the wrong sort of glass or if it’s a defect of some sort?

Liz: Absolutely, and I think insurance companies will get out of anything that they could actually possibly get out of. I’m not qualified to give advice to an owner. I can only look at a property and visually see. I can’t see what’s inside the wall cavity so I think owners have a responsibility to ensure, like for electricity, that they know that it’s sound. If it’s an old-style property, make sure that they feel comfortable on renting it out. Another big issue in Queensland over the years has been timber decks. Now Queensland people love living in the outdoors, that’s probably why it’s more predominant. We have a lot of timber decks so every time I do my routine inspections, and the property has a timber deck out here, I always put my hand on the rail and maneuver it to see that it’s secure because again, you don’t want that happening. You look at the bearers, obviously I can’t get under, it’s not my job to get under ground-level rolling in the dirt to have a look under the deck but if the deck is raised you know to have a look at the bearers and the joists to see if they’re sound. Make sure that the timber panels that are there are not rotting because we have some horrendous winter rains or storms up here and if there’s decks that are exposed to the elements, the boards can perish and people can fall through a deck. That can affect their insurance but that’s all part of owning a property. If it was your own property, you always have to add maintenance to a property and always keep working on it to  keep it at its optimal condition, I suppose. And by having a good property that is presented nicely, you as an owner, of course, are going to be rewarded with a higher dollar value range on your investment property.

Wayne: It does sound like you need not just a nice property, but a property manager who’s willing to bring you bad news when there is bad news and who’s competent to know the difference between what has to be dealt with and what it’d be nice to deal with.

Liz: Absolutely. And this property that I had tenants move in this morning, the owner has actually relocated and they’ve actually moved into a rental property. It’s interesting that he’s given me a call and saying, “Liz, this has happened and this has happened.” They’ve moved into a property that has not been cleaned. Now that’s probably very disrespectful to them as a tenant, so they haven’t really set off on the right foot. Now there might be many reasons why that wasn’t cleaned, it’s irrelevant to the tenant. You have to respect them so therefore if you’re not setting off on the right foot or that property manager obviously didn’t have, didn’t feel confident enough or to have that conversation with that owner to say unfortunately there’s a lot of things in that property that doesn’t meet our standards. And maybe standards is an issue, like I have really high standards that I believe a tenant should be respected and I believe all my owners believe our tenant should be respected and they should be given the value and the respect of being able to move into a nice clean property because I can guarantee you when I get that back, it needs to be cleaned and it needs to be at the same standard as they received it. Maintenance, again, if I get a property or when I do my routine inspections when I’m walking around a property, if I think the paint works looking a bit thin, I’m not expecting an owner to employ a contractor immediately to paint it but let’s have that conversation with the owners so that their pre-arranging or pre-budgeting for maybe in the next transition of a tenant that they have some money kept away so that we can repaint. Or the guttering is rusting and therefore it’s pouring water down on the ground. It’s all those little bits and pieces and it’s all the little one percenters that property managers I find that I do better to give that information to the owners so that we have a conversation and it’s not conflict. It’s all conversations to work towards when is the best time that we’re going to do that. “Okay, we have an issue here. Let’s work towards getting it done.” But then there’s some maintenance that you just can’t put off and it’s a tenant’s right to have a maintenance-free property that’s under the legislation. The owners really need to ensure that their properties are at a certain standard. You can’t just say, “I’m sorry I can’t afford that hot water service.” What happens if the tenants say, “I’m sorry I can’t afford this week’s rent?”

Wayne: Yes.

Liz: It’s give-and-take between both parties.

Wayne: Now there will be property owners around who are looking for a good property manager. What are the suburbs that you work in?

Liz: Okay, I work in Noosa Heads, Tewantin, Noosaville, Peregian Springs, Peregian Beach, Mount Coolum, Coolum Beach in Yaroomba and also out in the Hinterland, Cooroy, and Black Mountain – all those lying areas.

Wayne: None of those sound like awful places to live, I just have to say listening to you read them all.

Liz: It’s tough living on the Sunshine Coast.

Wayne: It is apparently, it’s so hard. I’m just looking at behind you at that lovely sunshine there in the middle of winter and thinking, “Oh Liz Malthouse lives a tough life, I tell you.”

Liz: Well it has been quite cold lately, but our days are nicer now. Nights are getting a little bit warmer, so bring on summer.

Wayne: Liz it’s been lovely having a chat with you again. Liz Malthouse is the Principal of Beachside Property Rentals and you can find her on the Internet at www.beachsidepr.com.au. Thanks for giving us some time today, Liz.

Liz: Thanks, Wayne. Have a great day. Bye.

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