There was a saying – there still is, I guess – “Happy wife, happy life.” You can translate that through to investment property, too. If you keep a happy tenant, you’re probably going to have a pretty well-maintained investment property. That’s certainly the theme of our next chat, which I’ll be having with Shannon Davis from Metropole Property Strategists and also Image Property in Brisbane.
Kevin: There was a saying – there still is, I guess – “Happy wife, happy life.” You can translate that through to investment property, too. If you keep a happy tenant, you’re probably going to have a pretty well-maintained investment property. That’s certainly the theme of our next chat, which I’ll be having with Shannon Davis from Metropole Property Strategists and also Image Property in Brisbane.
Good day, Shannon. How are you doing?
Shannon: Good day, Kevin.
Kevin: It’s very important to have that good relationship with the tenant. What have you found are the things that tenants really hate that will turn them off?
Shannon: Definitely the biggest one would be poor treatment. I think there is an element of disrespect given to tenants sometimes, that perhaps property managers or real estate professionals feel that they work for the owner and don’t have to treat the tenant with as much respect. That, coupled with unwillingness to resolve issues or making the invisible visible, are the things that really frustrate tenants.
Kevin: Yes. They are treated as second-rate citizens, aren’t they?
Shannon: Oh, definitely. You cannot be a property investor without tenants, so in that respect we need every tenant we can, especially in a rising market right now where we’re losing tenants to buying.
Kevin: I’ve heard tenants complain about things like no feedback, being treated like they’re second-rate citizens. “I make a complaint, and I’m just left hanging. I never hear anything.”
Shannon: Yes, that “left hanging” is a big one. Being ignored; timely responses. Even if it is taking longer than you need to resolve an issue, we need to keep them in the loop. “The owner is overseas at the moment. Once I have the response, I’ll be straight back to you,” or if a tradesman is waiting for a part. These are things that need to be explained.
Kevin: Of course, we’ve got an obligation to make sure that the property is well kept and be on top of those maintenance requests and issues, as well, Shannon.
Shannon: Yes. Well-maintained, safe, and secure. Privacy is what they’re after. If they’ve rented a property in a certain state, and through disrepair or maintenance it’s no longer in that state, then they’re expecting – and they should expect – the right for that to be repaired. It’s our obligation as owners and therefore the owner’s representatives –property managers – to fix those things. That’s definitely a bugbear of tenants.
Kevin: You talked earlier about that being left hanging. I’ve been a tenant; I know what it’s like. There’s nothing worse than being kept in the dark when just a simple email sometimes… You don’t have to make a phone call.
Shannon: No, definitely. An email, a text message, just something to keep them in the loop of where it’s at. They know that they’re being appreciated and their issue is important to us.
Kevin: Another issue that I wanted to quickly talk to you about is rent rises. Is there any legislation saying how much the rent can go up by, and what’s reasonable?
Shannon: They can definitely contest it on a market review. If it was over market review, it could go as far as QCAT or the Administrative Tribunal to have it heard. Rent rises are definitely another complaint of tenants.
I think what happens mainly is it’s just sent through the mail – “Here’s your rent” – no consultation, no phone call to soften the blow. In some cases, there’s no rapport with the tenant, so instead of the tenant signing back on at an improved rent, which would be in the best interest of the owner, they choose to pack up and go. Now the owner is faced with vacancy and the wear-and-tear that comes with another move-in, and of course, the next tenant might not be as a good character as the one we already had.
Kevin: It’s difficult for a property manager to sit in the middle. Owners can reasonably expect for those rent reviews to happen, but sometimes it’s easier for the property manager just to do nothing.
Shannon: Yes, and just say, “Look, they’re good tenants,” or “It’s just $10.” There’s nothing really scientific about those processes. A rent review is important. They don’t always go up; you might have bought yourself into an area where there’s such increasing supply that your rent is actually going down in a short-term period. It’s important in those instances especially to try and keep your tenant rather than have them move out, test the market, and be in a lease situation that was worse than the previous one.
Kevin: When we were operating an agency, we had a good-sized rent roll, and one of the things that amazed me was if you don’t treat tenants like tenants – in other words, treat them like human beings, just be nice to them – you’d be amazed when you find out sometimes that they’re actually investors themselves. Just because they’re tenants doesn’t mean to say they don’t have property.
Shannon: Exactly. We’re finding that more and more now, where people’s first investment is actually an investment property, not a house or a home. People are getting married later. There are all sorts of reasons as to why that’s happening.
I think they’re just chopping their nose off to spite their face. I think win-win is how best outcomes are done. We need a happy tenant in order to get the best solution for owners and the best results.
Kevin: Very good advice. Shannon Davis from Metropole Property and also Image Property Management. Thanks for your time, mate.
Shannon: No worries, Kevin. Any time.