Tenant-proof your home when moving abroad...

What you need to know about renting out your home when moving overseas.

Mention living abroad and most people will say they wish they could be as carefree as you.

But the reality of living overseas and renting out your home is far less idyllic than it may seem.

I can say from lived experience that it’s not as easy as it looks and, no matter how enthused you are about the idea, financial pressures can often outweigh the experience.

However, with proper preparation, it’s possible to successfully rent out your home while living overseas.

Fix the faults

As a property owner living abroad, I became familiar with the term “call-out fee”. I had two faulty items that required continual maintenance to keep them in a working condition. These call-out fees created a substantial dent in my monthly budget.

That’s why the advice is to have a professional do an overall check of your property before you board that international flight.

“You don’t want to have a plumber go back and fix washers if you can do a complete inspection before you leave,” says real estate agent Damien Brumby from Pride Real Estate St Kilda.

There are also faults that catch you by surprise. I had a hot water system break down which required an urgent call out. The overseas time difference and the urgency of the situation meant the property manager had to act quickly and without my approval.

Rules vary between states, but agents generally have authority to organise urgent repairs without owners approval up to a certain amount.

This cost will be a blow to any landlord, but rules exist to protect the tenant and ensure they have safe living conditions.

The solution? Be prepared and have funds aside for emergencies.

Pack away valuables

Wear and tear are typical of a leased home, especially a fully furnished one, yet damage to furniture can often be avoided by choosing robust items that don’t require any upkeep and special care.

“If you furnish your property, you are responsible for the repairs on appliances, upkeep of linen, the replacement of the TV or fridge if they break,” says Brumby. All these factors can be costly and frustrating when you’re living abroad.

I was upset when my antique stools were found broken, and I had no way to replace them nor prove their worth.

Brumby suggests getting rid of your furniture if you’re looking to lease your property long term because the damage and maintenance outweighs any rental income gains.

Use washable paint

When I returned from my travels the skirting boards, doors and walls of my home were covered in scuffs and black marks that were hard to remove and weren’t picked up by the real estate agent. These build up over time and can make a home look tired, old and less appealing to future tenants.

Don’t underestimate what a coat of paint can do for your home – it can make the home seem bigger and brighter which makes it easier to rent out. And a washable finish means most scuffs and dirt can be wiped off easily before the next tenants move in.

Select the right tenant

Choosing the right tenant is the key to leasing your property successfully while abroad. It creates security, confidence and a steady income stream.

“If they’re pleasant and easy to deal with when we first meet them, that’s the first impression that we remember when we select a tenant,” Brumby explains.

However, once their lease is up you may need to tackle the chore of finding a new tenant while you’re overseas, which can be a costly process.

“Internet advertising, letting fee, open for inspections, preparing the lease agreement, lodging a bond, database check and phone calls could be anywhere from one week to two weeks rent,” Brumby says.

I found the costs of finding a new tenant was somewhere upwards of $1000, not to mention the rental loss every week the property is vacant. If a lease ends over Christmas, it can mean the property stays vacant for over a month.

Retaining a good tenant for a long period helps keep these costs down.

Read the entire article HERE .


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