The holiday season should be a fun and festive time for all, but for Property Managers and Landlords, we should be buckling down and making preparations–and not the kind that involve shopping or feasting. We want to make sure investment properties are being looked after with extra care when property investors as well as tenants have their own holiday worries to deal with or simply want to take a proper break.
It does not have to be difficult, as long as you have a plan. So brace yourself and make sure you see to these issues as we head into the holiday season.
Communication and availability
As a Property Manager, the very first thing you want to prepare for the holiday season is confirming your availability during the holiday period. If you’re leaving for your holiday, be sure to notify owners, tenants and suppliers of your schedule. You can send them each a Season’s Greetings email, but don’t stop there. Post about it on social media, too. Be sure to update your Google My Business hours and make a note on your website. Knowing your availability will help tenants and property owners manage their expectations during the holidays.
Whether you’re going on holiday or not, make sure you can still be reached, especially when the matter is urgent. When you set up your automated out-of-office email reply, you should remind them of your contact details and/or provide a secondary point of contact. This person is someone who should be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge and one you can trust to handle issues while you’re away.
Tenants will be getting into the festive season by stringing up lights and other ornaments that could be a potential fire hazard. Take time to remind tenants about not overloading power boards, turning off lights when leaving the property, and not placing lights near flammable materials. Check that all smoke alarms are in good working order and meet legislative requirements. Other fire hazards, such as debris and overhanging trees or branches and long grass should be attended to as well. Since it’s also summer and bushfire season, this is a very important precaution to take.
You will also want to check on locks on doors, windows and sheds. Double check that security screens are still secure. The holiday season is prone to theft and damages caused by theft, especially when tenants are away for the holidays.
Damages and insurance
This is also the season for parties and get-togethers. Tenants entertaining a lot of guests means higher chances of accidental damage. Check that the insurance covers accidental damage. You might want to confirm it covers malicious damage too, since gatherings can get out of hand. Most importantly, have a liability cover in place if the worst happens and someone is injured on the property so that the property owner won’t be held responsible.
The holiday season also means summer season. A cool, comfortable tenant is a happy tenant, so make sure air conditioning units are working well. If the property has ducted air conditioning, it may require special servicing since the system may need to be manually switched from heating to cool and have the vent opened on the roof.
Unapproved vacation rentals
If tenants are away for the season, it can be tempting to list the property on vacation rental websites, like Airbnb. However, this form of subletting can pose as a problem as it is excluded from most landlord insurance policies. So if anything goes wrong, the property owner can be held liable. Include this in your holiday reminder to tenants.