Property managers face hurdles when navigating the festive season, but crawling under them only creates further problems in the New Year, says one landlord insurance expert.
While the season presents a number of challenges when it comes to property management, smart forward-planning can keep them to a minimum, says Sharon Fox-Slater from EBM Insurance Brokers RentCover.
“Vacancies can be very difficult to fill over the festive season, however, I would urge property managers to discourage landlords from accepting a substandard tenant application just because there are no alternatives – an empty property is better than a nightmare tenant,” Ms Fox-Slater told Residential Property Manager.
“Tenancies should also never be timed to end over the festive season. If property managers are signing new tenants now, consider a 13- or 14-month lease, so the renewal doesn’t fall during the quiet period next year.”
Ms Fox-Slater said with household budgets under stress during the Christmas period, there’s an increased risk of tenant default, so PMs should be extra vigilant.
“Property managers can help landlords by being swift and proactive when it comes to chasing rent arrears – and keeping accurate records in case an eviction or landlord insurance claim becomes necessary,” she said.
“Unexpected issues such as plumbing failures can crop up from time to time and, if not addressed promptly, can motivate tenants to move out.
“To avoid the risk, property managers need to let tenants know what to do and who to call if a property problem crops up when your office is closed for the holidays.”
If there is a festive season vacancy, she added, landlords with handy skills could “turn lemons into lemonade” by using the time to spruce up their property, to boost its appeal in the New Year.
“To reduce the risk of squatters and vandalism in an empty property, property managers can help by picking up the mail and ensuring that gardens are neat and tidy so that the home looks ‘lived-in’,” she said.
“It may be worthwhile to chat to the neighbours and ask them to keep an eye on the place and alert you if there’s any sign of trouble.”