The holiday season is chaotic! When combining the end of school, travelling, holiday parties and family visits, it’s easy to forget things which you’d typically be on top of. But as a landlord, there are definite safety requirements which you want to ensure are ticked off your list. And, as a tenant, there are also steps which you can do for your own peace-of-mind, as well as that of your landlord and agent. For your convenience, we have compiled this list of ways to keep your investment property safe these holidays.
Under the Electrical Safety Act 2002, landlords are liable to ensure the safety of all electrical equipment located on their rented premises. This means smoke alarms must be compliant, and at least one safety switch is installed in the switchboard. Your property manager should, as standard protocol, remind you when these are due. If a safety check has not been completed in the last 6-12 months, we recommend you contact your agent to arrange one.
For tenants who are heading away for the holidays, we recommend you switch off and unplug all unnecessary appliances. This means only the essential items like fridges and freezers will remain plugged in while you are away. Unplugging will not only help protect against potential fire dangers in your absence but also save you money. To help protect those from electrical surges while you are away, we recommend you purchase a surge protector.
For more electrical safety tips, see this handy guide by Work Safe Queensland.
An unfortunate side-effect of the holiday season is the rise in break-ins due to the number of unoccupied homes. For tenants, there are a few ways to deter potential home invaders, including:
- Make friends with the neighbours and ask them to keep an eye on your home while you are away. Be sure to leave them your best contact number in case of an emergency;
- Don’t tempt thieves by leaving valuable items visible in the front yard or through the windows.
- Play pretend by leaving a light on or boots by the front door.
- Ask that friend or neighbour to collect your mail so that it isn’t overflowing in the mailbox.
- Check the perimeter of the property and windows to ensure there are no potential weak spots. This includes locking gates with a padlock if necessary and removing items from the front yard which could be used for climbing over fences.
If you are going away, it might pay to let your agent know so they can do a drive-by or two to check on the property. Also remember to take the agent’s phone number with you, in case you are notified of anything concerning.
If possible, landlords may also wish to drive-by their rental properties during the holiday season. However, please remember to respect your tenant’s privacy; if you are concerned, notify your agent rather than entering the property yourself.
Insurance won’t protect you from bad things happening, but it will make life a little easier if disaster strikes.
Because the holiday season signals the start of storm season in Queensland, we recommend all of our landlords and tenants have adequate insurance coverage. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a slightly-above-average number of cyclones during the 2020-2021 storm season (November – April). So, now is the time to check your policies have adequate storm damage cover.
For landlords, we recommend they get comprehensive building insurance which includes cover for cyclones, hail damage, potential flood damage, broken windows, roof repair etc. When checking policies, remember to insure any extras which you may have added to your home this year. Such things could include solar panels, water tanks, sheds etc. It is important to note, landlord insurance may cover you for ‘accidental’ damage but does not include natural flood damage. This is why we recommend our landlords take out building insurance as well as landlord insurance.
The intent of landlord insurance is to protect both the property and the rental income. Unlike building insurance, this policy covers tenant-specific risks which would not be covered by building insurance. For example, this policy would cover you, the landlord, for damage caused to the property by faulty appliances.
For tenants, we recommend you have comprehensive contents insurance. Contents insurance covers you for the cost of replacing any of your possessions which may be stolen, lost or damaged.
There are several useful tips here for landlords and tenants. To make it easier for you, here are our takeaways before you get into holiday-mode:
- Switch off and unplug all unnecessary electrical items before heading away for holidays;
- Install surge protectors on the items which will stay plugged-in.
- Secure the property as much as possible to deter break-ins while you are away;
- Check your insurance policies are up-to-date, and your coverage is adequate.
- Do a couple of drive-bys of your investment properties and raise any security concerns with your agent;
- Ensure electrical safety checks have recently been done on the property;
- Check your building and landlord insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage.
If you are ever in doubt about your holiday property safety or would like to learn more information, please contact Coral Tree Property.
For our tenants and landlords, we are proud to be available quite frequently throughout the holiday period. If you have any concerns outside of our holiday operating hours, please contact our after-hours operator Pam on 0423 709 882.