Keep Your Home Safe On Social Media These Holidays

It appears safe enough: posting a holiday snap on Facebook, uploading an airport check-in on Foursquare, or announcing dinner plans on Twitter. But these private moments broadcasted on social media may be cues for burglars.

In recent years social media platforms have become a tool for thieves with location sharing features often used by unsuspecting holiday makers when uploading happy snaps. These features tell people who’s on holiday and indicate an empty home.

Typically burglars will attempt a house burglary quickly, often avoiding homes with extra security, alarm systems, cameras and sensor lights. Those thieves assured homeowners are on holidays may take extra time and leave with more valuable goods.

This holiday season try turning off location sharing on social media and don’t announce interstate travel plans with the world. Better yet, make sure your home address hasn’t been shared and if it needs to be, do so by private message. Checking privacy settings for individual social media platforms is recommended and reverse stalking yourself will reveal just how secure are your personal details.

Back at the house, security measures can be taken to help dissuade thieves over the holidays. A big deterrent is a visible security system and the threat of a professional response. The simple sight of a car in your driveway can also give the impression that someone is at home. Why not consider having a neighbour park their car in your driveway as they come and go over the holiday period or you may choose to leave your car in plain sight, but just remember to take the keys with you.

RACV general manager home services Peter Brindley says, “thieves have been known to check for car keys in obvious spots and steal cars, right from your own driveway,” he says.
“Having your home burgled is already emotionally traumatic, and having the car taken too makes it even worse.”

Set light timers inside the house and leave the radio on because nothing says an empty home than a dark quiet house. Outdoor lighting and gravel driveways provide visual and audio signals to neighbours that something might not be right so investing in motion-sensing porch and garden lighting is advisable. Ask the neighbours or friends to collect the mail and any newspapers or get them diverted.

This silly season be safe online and on holidays, and feel secure that your home is too.

Read our story on keeping the outside of your home secure, and find out more about home burglaries with the nine-part Safe as Houses series.

Source: Royal Auto

New Queensland Smoke Alarm Laws to Take Effect 1 January 2017

The Queensland Government has just passed the Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Bill 2016. 

The amendments have been introduced following a coronial inquest on 28 November 2014 in which the State Coroner made two broad recommendations:

1. That legislative amendments be made to mandate the installation of photoelectric and interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, between areas containing bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling, in any hallway servicing bedrooms and in any other storey of a domestic dwelling. For new residences, the Coroner recommended that the smoke alarms be hard-wired, while in existing residences, smoke alarms may be hard-wired or powered by a 10-year lithium battery;

2. That Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) conduct enhanced awareness campaigns including promoting the development of practised escape plans.

These measures are supported by QFES as providing best practice in the use of smoke alarms. Evidence exists to suggest that each component of these revised smoke alarm provisions will reduce the risk of harm to residents in a house fire.

The Bill:

Requires that smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard 3786-2014 be installed in domestic dwellings and that the smoke alarms be photoelectric, interconnected and be powered by an enduring power source (hard-wired or 10 year lithium battery); and

Requires that smoke alarms be installed in locations as prescribed in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 for existing domestic dwellings and the Building Regulation 2006 for new dwellings.

These new provisions will apply to domestic dwellings where an application for a building approval is made after 31 December 2016 and the building work is a substantial renovation.

From 31 December 2021, these new requirements will apply to existing residential properties where a Contract of Sale is entered into or a Tenancy is entered into or renewed.

These amendments also require that owners of residential properties, including Landlords, replace smoke alarms under the amended requirements within 10 years after the manufacture date or if they fail when routinely tested.

In Summary

These changes commence on 1 January 2017 and are to be phased in over a 10 year period. From commencement, if an existing smoke alarm needs to be replaced, it is to be replaced by a photoelectric smoke alarm.

New or substantially renovated homes will need to be compliant with the new smoke alarm provisions.

After five years from commencement, all dwellings that are sold or leased will need to be in compliance at the time a Tenancy Agreement, Contract of Sale is entered into.

All other homes will be required to be in compliance within 10 years of commencement.

Source: Nicole Garnham, Real Estate Dynamics SEPTEMBER 2016

You can find a copy of the Bill here for your reference.

Be Safe Around Pools This Summer!

With summer almost upon us the
need to cool off becomes a necessity, and the swimming pool is an attractive
remedy to beat the heat. However, with drowning danger apparent, it is
important that everyone takes pool safety seriously.

Following are some tips to ensure that your pool is
safe during summer, which could save someone’s life:

1. Ensure there is a CPR sign
clearly displayed near your pool.

2. Make sure that everyone at
your home knows the CPR process. You can attend courses through the local
Ambulance service.

3. Ensure that you have rescue
equipment by the pool in case of an emergency.

4. Don’t leave climbable
objects near the pool fence. Don’t leave equipment or toys in the pool as it
can encourage small children to want to get in the pool.

5. Always have an adult
present when small children are swimming in the pool.

6. Take your phone outside
when supervising small children so you don’t have to leave… even for a minute.

7. Never leave the pool
gate propped open. This not only poses a danger to small children, but
weakens the hinge on the pool gates, often causing it not to close properly.

8. If you have a pool
cover, always ensure that it is secured to the pool so small children cannot
climb under.

If you are concerned about the
safety of your pool it is recommended that you contact your local pool safety
expert for professional advice.

What do tenants want when looking to lease a house?

It’s a question that every property investor and landlord should ask? What features will make prospect tenants trip over themselves to rent?

Although tenant screening is important, having a property with all the right features, makes it easier to find great tenants that ideally stay on for a long period of time.

Here are our top 7 features that good tenants are looking for:

1. Safety – Security screens, security locks, alarms etc are all highly desirable.

2. Air-conditioning/at least ceiling fans. It’s a must-have these days and at such a small cost it really will ensure a higher rental.

3. Storage space – In an age where credit is so easy to attain (notwithstanding the supposed credit crunch – um Harvey Norman are now advertising 50 months interest free!), we have too much stuff and we replace perfectly good things so easily, but we still ‘paid good money’ for the old stuff, so need somewhere to store all the ‘goods’!

4. Decent kitchens and bathrooms. (I can’t even make light of this one!) Tenants want clean and tidy kitchens and bathrooms. Note, I’m not saying to necessarily spend $000’s on stainless steel appliances and frame-less shower screens. Just a few dollars on ensuring a clean, mould-free bathroom and fat-free kitchen. Note: a dishwasher is handy and again is very inexpensive and is a highly desirable extra.

5. Remote lock-up garages. Really, who has the time to get out of the car and open the garage door and then get back in the car and park it?

6. Good paint. A rental property should be re-painted every 5 – 7 years.

7. A quick response to any maintenance issues at the property. If you trust a property manager enough to place your most treasured investment with them, you should be able to trust them enough to spend up to $300 without needing to seek approval. This means that your property manager can swiftly attend to maintenance issues and therefore keep your tenant happy.

A happy tenant is unlikely to baulk so much at the next rental increase, and is likely to care for the property because they genuinely enjoy living there.


(with acknowledgement to BeesNees City Realty a very professional city agency in Brisbane.)

Ending a tenancy correctly

With the current rates conditions and home loans becoming
more achievable there are many tenancies ending.

Bear in mind that a Tenancy must be concluded correctly
in order for there to be no further actions in the future.

Tenancy agreements can only be
ended in accordance with the
Residential
Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008
(the
Act). There are processes that must be followed to correctly end an agreement,
including using the approved form and allowing the right amount of time for the
notice period.

Some ways a tenancy agreement can
be ended:

  • the lessor/agent and tenant both
    agree, in writing, for the agreement to end
  • the lessor/agent gives the tenant
    a Notice to leave (Form 12) or Abandonment termination notice (Form 15) to the
    tenant
  • the tenant gives the lessor/agent
    a Notice of intention to leave (Form 13)
  • the tenant is given a Notice to
    vacate from mortgagee to tenant (Form 19) from a mortgagee (e.g. a bank) who is
    entitled to take possession of the premises
  • the sole tenant has died and the
    tenancy must be ended, or
  • the Tribunal makes an order.

Even fixed term agreements must
be formally ended by giving a written notice, otherwise they continue as a
periodic agreement.

Reasons for ending an agreement

Agreements can be ended for one
of the following reasons:

  • Without grounds (no reason given)
    • Either party can end an agreement
      (a fixed term or a periodic), without giving a reason. However, a fixed term
      agreement cannot be ended before the agreement’s end date, unless both parties
      agree.
    • The lessor/agent must give the
      tenant two months notice. The tenant must give the lessor/agent two weeks
      notice.
  • Non-liveability
    • Either party can end the
      agreement if the premises are partly or wholly destroyed or if they can no
      longer be used legally as a dwelling. This does not apply if the
      non-liveability is caused by one of the parties breaking the agreement e.g. by
      causing extensive damage.
    • The notice must be given within
      one month of the premises becoming non-liveable and the agreement ends on the
      day the notice is given.
  • Employment, or entitlement to
    occupy under employment, ended

    • The lessor/agent may end a
      tenancy that arises under the tenant’s terms of employment, subject to any
      relevant industrial award or agreement.
    • The lessor/agent must give four
      weeks notice.
  • Abandoned premises
    • The lessor/agent can either give
      a notice to the tenant or apply to the Tribunal to end the agreement if they
      believe, on reasonable grounds, the premises have been abandoned.
    • The lessor/agent must give seven
      days notice or the Tribunal can determine the end date.
  • Sale of premises
    • The lessor/agent can end a
      periodic agreement if the lessor has entered into a contract to sell the
      premises with vacant possession. However, they cannot end a fixed term
      agreement before the end date, unless the tenant agrees.
    • The tenant can end the agreement
      if the premises are for sale within the first two months of the tenancy
      starting and they had not been informed in writing at the time they signed the
      agreement. The tenant has until two weeks after the first two months of the
      tenancy to advise they want to leave.
  • Breach of agreement
    • Either party can end the agreement
      if the other party does not remedy a breach after the
      Notice to remedy breach (Form 11)
      process has been followed.
    • The lessor/agent must give seven
      days notice to leave for rent arrears, or 14 days notice to leave for general
      breaches. The tenant must give seven days notice of their intention to leave.
  • Mortgagees in possession
    • A mortgagee, such as a bank or
      financial institution that is entitled to take possession of the premises, can
      give the tenant at least two months notice and end a periodic or fixed term
      agreement if it has not agreed to the tenancy. If it has agreed, it can end a
      periodic agreement with two months notice, but cannot end a fixed term
      agreement earlier than the end date unless the tenant agrees.
  • Death of a sole tenant
    • If a sole tenant dies, the
      tenant’s personal representative or relative can negotiate with the
      lessor/agent to end the tenancy. The date the agreement ends depends on the
      action taken. If a written notice is used, the tenancy ends two weeks after the
      notice is received. If the parties agree on another end date, the tenancy will
      end on that date. If no notice is given or no agreement made, the tenancy ends
      one month after the tenant’s death. The Tribunal can determine the end date if
      required.

Terminations by Tribunal

The lessor, agent or tenant can
apply straight to the Tribunal for a decision about when a tenancy agreement
should end, but only for certain reasons, and only after correct processes have
been followed. These are called urgent applications and reasons include:

  • failure to leave – if the tenant hasn’t left the
    property by the due date on the notice
  • hardship – if either party believes they would
    suffer excessive hardship
  • damage or injury – if the tenant has damaged the
    premises or injured people
  • objectionable behaviour – if the tenant uses verbal
    abuse, harassment or causes a serious nuisance, and
  • repeated breaches – for repeating a serious breach
    more than twice in a one year period, even though the breach was fixed
    each time.

Retaliatory terminations prohibited

The lessor/agent must not end an
agreement by giving the tenant a
Notice
to leave
without grounds because the
tenant has exercised their lawful rights. In this case, the tenant may apply to
the Tribunal within four weeks of receiving the notice.

Disputes about ending agreements

The RTA encourages
self-resolution of disputes about
ending agreements that are not classified as urgent applications. Parties
should attempt to resolve the dispute themselves by talking to each other and
finding out about their rights and responsibilities. If they cannot reach an
agreement, the parties may get assistance by lodging a
Dispute resolution request(Form
16) with the
RTA’s dispute resolution service.
If no agreement is reached, the RTA will issue a Notice of unresolved dispute.
At this point, either party can apply to the Tribunal for a decision.

Compensation

A person may apply to the
Tribunal for compensation to cover damage or loss caused by the other party
breaching the terms of the agreement. Persons seeking compensation must try to
avoid or minimise their own loss. Applications to the Tribunal must be made
within six months of becoming aware of the breach occurring. This is not an
urgent application, so parties must go through the RTA’s dispute resolution
service before applying to the Tribunal

Source:
Real Estate Dynamics + RTA website April 2015

Real Estate Dynamics Property News –
April2015

Should You Rent or Should You Buy?

For many home ownership is a dream. Admittedly, there are far worse goals to have, but this is not something you should rush into.

The most important thing to consider is affordability, now and into the future. You do not want to move into the home only to find yourselves under financial pressure as time goes by. You do not want to be a slave to your home.

Here are some factors to consider when weighing up Affordability:

1. How much deposit do you have? In the not-too-distant past, banks insisted that home buyers had a 20 percent deposit. This was the minimum you needed if you were to buy a home. Often the bank expected you to prove a savings record, to show that you had saved the money. I wish those days would return – first home buyers (especially) who purchase properties with little or no equity are cannon fodder when interest rates start to climb.

2. Can you afford the repayments now?

3. Can you afford the repayments on one wage? If pregnancy is not a possibility, this is not such a vital consideration.

4. Can you afford the repayments if interest rates rose by 3 percent? If you cannot, do not buy. While this might sound silly to some Generation X and Y buyers, there are many of us who can remember the days when interest rates were 17 percent, so allowing for a 3 percent increase is not as silly as it sounds.

If you can afford to buy, then you should. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ unless you have a crystal ball. Go buy yourself a home and enjoy these benefits:

• Long term capital gain – pay off as much of your mortgage as quickly as you can and gradually ‘trade up’.

• Feeling of safety and security – it’s your home. You can knock out a wall, paint it any colour you like, and no landlord can stop you.

• You are paying off your asset, not somebody else’s as you do when you rent.

• Path to prosperity. There is nothing like the feeling of owning your own home, and if you are careful, it will become possibly the greatest financial asset you will ever own.

One final point: start out modestly. Don’t make your first home a huge four bedroom palace that you cannot afford. Start out with a modest home and trade up. Always keep your home repayments at a (conservative) affordable level.

Breaking the Lease

What is meant by “breaking the lease”?

A “lease Break” means that the Tenant will be vacating the premises before the Lease end date.

Another easy way to explain a lease break is this:

A lease is just like any other contract it’s a promise between two parties, the owner, and the tenant. The owner promises to provide the premises for a certain time (amongst other things), and the Tenant promises to pay the rent and look after the premises during that time. Where the Tenant is leaving early, the Tenant is breaking a promise and accordingly, the other party to the contract – the owner- is entitled to be compensated. 

The cost to the Tenant breaking the lease is the compensation to the Owner, and Fees involved with finding a new replacement Tenant.

In the eyes of the Law, the “compensation” the owner receives is the rent the owner would’ve gotten had the Tenant stayed. Note that the Owner is only entitled to receive this compensation if the Owner is attempting to “Mitigate Loss” or in ordinary words, make a reasonable effort at finding a replacement Tenant. This duty to find a replacement Tenant, also applies to the party who’s breaking their promise – the Tenants. Being very co-operative in allowing inspections, and keeping the place as well presented is very helpful in finding a replacement Tenant.

Secondly, if the Tenant fails to look after the yard or pool (for example), the owner can arrange for this, and be compensated by the Tenant for the costs.

The Tenant’s enter into an agreement with the managing agent to find a replacement. This means paying the reasonable Fees of the managing agent including advertising. Read more on property management options.

Break Lease Fees

In summary, the Fees payable by the Tenant are best explained by example…in the case, assuming the rent is, say $350 per week:

â–º 1 x Weeks rent + GST = $350 + 10% = $385 This is your break lease Fee 

â–º Advertising = $99 Internet, For Rent sign, Window cards etc.. 

â–º Smoke Alarm Check = $55 This is compulsory under the Residential Tenancies Act 

The Fees in this example total = $539

The Tenant can also do other advertising (say in the local Newspaper), conduct their own Open for Inspections, and tell their friends!

Needless to say, breaking a lease is a stressful time for the Tenant, the Owner, and the agent in the middle.

EXCELLENT communication is vital!

If you have any questions regarding breaking a lease, feel free to
phone our office.