Monthly Archives: May 2015
Water bills can be complex and are often misunderstood by landlords and tenants alike. Water suppliers around the country also bill differently so what you pay for depends on where you live and who your supplier is. In this article we hope to offer clarity on your responsibilities.
As a landlord you are required to ensure there is an adequate supply of water to your rental property. If there is no reticulated water supply, you must provide means for collection and storage of water such as a tank.
Reticulated or town water supply
In New Zealand, landlords are responsible for paying any fixed water charges billed by a water supplier. You pay these whether your property is occupied or not.
If water to your property is billed by consumption, your tenant is responsible for paying metered water that is directly attributable to the property. If there is not an individual meter to the premises, the landlord pays for the metered water as well as the fixed charge.
Some water suppliers now include calculations for wastewater usage. Wastewater is the water that goes down your drains, such as from the shower and toilet.
Tenants may be charged for wastewater that is directly attributable to the tenants’ usage, for example, where the wastewater charge is billed as a percentage of metered usage.
Landlords pay fixed charges for wastewater including where charges are billed as a fixed annual rate divided by twelve.
If water supply to the property is from a tank, landlords should provide a full tank at the start of the tenancy and the tenant organises and pay for refills (if required).
Reducing water consumption
There are a few things you can do at your property to help reduce water consumption.
- Install water saving shower-heads
- Install single lever mixer taps and aerators to reduce flow volumes
- Be pro-active responding to plumbing issues and repairs, including dripping taps
- Ensure that your water meter is in good condition and request a repair if it’s not
- Install a rainwater tank for use in the garden.
A small investment in installing these products can drastically reduce your water bill.
A lot goes into properly marketing a home for sale, and it’s true what they say, first impressions really do count. The images used to market your home in print and online are the first, and possibly only impression you will make on potential buyers, so it’s important they show your home in the best possible light and really make your home stand out amongst the competition.
To help celebrate Photography Month this May, we’ve collected a selection of the best photography tips you can use when photographing your home.
Tip 1 – Scope your location
Photos should help buyers to visualise themselves in the home before they even get to the front door. So take the time to highlight the homes best attributes and angles. Walk around your home and look at each room from a different vantage point until you’ve found the best way to capture the look and feel of a space.
If a space is small, focus on the details, highlighting an interesting feature of the space, rather than trying to make it look bigger. In the example below, the bathroom may be small, but the unique mirror is centred as the focal point.
Tip 2 – Prepare each room
Treat the photoshoot the same way you would an open home. Each room should be neat and tidy, uncluttered and well presented. Living areas should be warm and inviting, kitchens should be spotless, with detergents, sponges, utensils and other bench-top mainstays being packed away. Try to remove any overly personal items from the shot if you can as well, like family photos or names on the walls in children’s bedrooms.
It’s important to create a balance between cosy and lived-in, with tidy and not too personalised.
Tip 3 – Lights, camera, action
Make sure each room you photograph is well-lit. That means turning on each overhead light as well as any lamps in each room, no matter the time of day. This will make rooms brighter, and give an airier feel.
Some areas in your home may even benefit from being shot at different times of the day, see taking photos at dusk. Well-lit, outdoor pool areas would look best at dusk when lighting can really shine, some paint colours may look better in the middle of a sunny day, as may many gardens. Think about when each space in your home looks its most inviting.
Tip 4 – Try taking photos at dusk
For certain properties with well-lit outdoor areas, or lit pools and gardens, you can create ambience by taking shots at dusk. You will need to have a high resolution camera and the area you are photographing will need to be well-lit, but with these things in check, the end results can be striking.
Tip 5 – Turn to the professionals
There is always the professional photography route as well, which is becoming more and more popular. With this in mind, you don’t want your property to be the odd one out that lacks a professional and well-presented touch.
If you’re new to the world of photography, or don’t have the proper equipment, investing in professional photography might be the way to go. Your sales consultant can arrange this for you, and generally speaking, professional photos help to attract more buyers, which often means you’ll recoup your marketing investment from your sale price.
If you are managing your own rental property and tenants, then one of the most important tasks involved with this process is obviously rent collection.
Managing rent collection should be a simple process for you and your tenant, to ensure your tenant pays on time and so you don’t have to worry about chasing up late payments. It will save you from the headaches of trying to collect the debt yourself or dealing with debt collection agencies.
As a landlord, you have entered into a legal contract with your tenant to exchange accommodation in return for payment. Yet for many, with various people and circumstances involved, it can be an emotional time trying to get payments back in line with the current rental period.
Here are a few key tips to ensure managing the collection of rent, and following up on rental arrears goes as smoothly as possible:
- Make sure you’re clear that rent must be paid in full and when it’s to be paid i.e. make sure your tenant knows you won’t accept partial payments.
- In some countries, by law, there needs to be at least one option for a tenant to pay their rent which doesn’t incur a fee. The most popular option used by property managers is direct debit – This means you’ll need to have your tenant sign a direct debit request form authorising you to automatically deduct payments directly from their account.
- Keep a record of all your incomings and outgoings for your investment property. Note each payment with the date and the amount every time it is received, even if this is just recorded in an Excel spreadsheet.
- Also record any outgoings from this account, such as monies paid for local government fees or maintenance bills. This will make things a lot easier for yourself come tax time!
- In the event your account does enter into arrears, ensure you are kept up-to-date with local legislation, so you are aware of when you are legally able to send written reminders (and how many reminders can be sent) and when to commence formal proceedings. Have a system set in place to handle overdue payments. Avoid making phone calls, or dropping in to see the tenant in person. Notice periods apply to inspections or visits and in person conversations can lead to the issue escalating.
- Have a back-up plan if rent is still not paid after reminders have been communicated. Depending on your area there will be a timeframe in which you can start formal proceedings.
The other option to explore is looking into handing over rent and arrears collection to a property manager. The benefits of using a property manager is they will have a streamlined process to handle rent collection and you have a designated person keeping track of what is coming in and when. For tax purposes this will help with end of year filings and they also have preferred debt collectors, should things escalate.
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Breakfast in bed, flowers, chocolates and cards – they’re all lovely ideas for Mother’s Day, but to give a gift that keeps on giving this Mother’s Day, why not help your mum to brighten and freshen her home? These small, simple gestures can make a big difference to a home and will last well past the weekend.
Instead of buying flowers this Mothers Day… why not plant some?
If your mum’s garden needs some work, why not help out this weekend? Weeding, mowing and pruning are all relatively easy tasks that tidy-up up a garden in no time, but to go the extra mile why not plant your mum’s favourite shrubs, herbs or flowers? She’ll have something beautiful to look at for many Mother’s Days to come.
Rather than giving a card… why not hang a canvas?
A card might go up on the mantle for a day, but a bright print or canvas can decorate a room forever! A really effective, easy and inexpensive idea is to buy a blank canvas and paint it in one bold, bright colour that contrasts with existing furnishings and decorations. Another cool idea is to affix fabric in a cool pattern or design to the canvas.
In place of jewellery… why not add sparkle with ornate lamps and lighting fixtures?
To add a striking focal point in a room and update tired light fittings, try replacing old shades and fitted lamps with crystal accents or unique glass designs.
As an alternative to buying new… why not repurpose?
Does your mum have old, unused furniture she wants to get rid of? Why not convert a piece so it can be used again? An old, wobbly chair can easily be sanded back, painted in a modern coat of white, or glossy black paint and repurposed as a side table, or even to hold interesting decorative pieces in the corner of a living or dining area.
These are just a few of the creative ideas you can help mum with this Mother’s Day, but there are lots of little things you can do around the home that will update a space, add colour and last for longer than a bunch of flowers.
Happy Mother’s Day!
May is Barbecue Month! So it’s the perfect time to think about updating your outdoor area. Outdoor spaces are great additions to your home, not only because they’re functional but they also add value and attract buyers.
To celebrate Barbecue Month and to get you inspired, we have put together a selection of our favourite barbecue spaces.
1. Auckland, New Zealand
The bi-fold doors in this property bring the outside in, a really neat way to create an easy flow from the indoor living area to the outdoor space. A stylish and modern barbecue area is surrounded by extensively landscaped grounds, huge flat lawns with a rock pool water feature, an open fireplace and large in-ground heated concrete pool plus cabana crafted with moulded concrete. It’s the kind of outdoor area that invites lazy afternoon barbecues or drinks on the patio, but you’d be just as home curling up quietly with a book and enjoying the lush surrounds of the garden.
Top tip: Use bi-fold doors to double a space and bring the outdoors in.
View property at: http://harcourts.co.nz/ay33959
2. Gold Coast, Australia
This Balinese-style outdoor area will make you feel as though your relaxing in your very own resort. Ceiling fans to create a gentle breeze, a large pagoda-style roof, and a spacious deck overlooking the pool all help to create a luxurious outdoor space. Fringed lights add a finishing touch to this island paradise-like barbecue area.
Top tip: Add stand-out yet reasonably inexpensive finishing touches like cool lighting to create a put-together look and feel to your outdoor area.
View property at: http://harcourts.com.au/Property/607674/QHT28868/2-Plumosa-Court
3. Eastern Cape, South Africa
It’s not just pools and water features that make an outdoor space idyllic. This beautiful and classically landscaped garden presents a lush garden view from the balcony of this home. Manicured lawns, native trees and flowers, and even a little garden bench complete this private garden hideaway.
Top tip: Add small but inviting features to your outdoor area like benches, seats and moveable potted plants, so you can change the look and feel of your garden over time. Maybe moving and changing out plants seasonally, or even moving seating to take advantage of different views.
View property at: http://harcourts.co.za/Property/193631/EFB8372/Village-I-I
4. Bali, Indonesia
This property capitalises on a smaller outdoor space, featuring a separate outdoor bungalow overlooking the lap pool. The use of warm colour tones throughout the bungalow blend with the natural colours of the native flowers which line the pool. Low maintenance but striking plants and flowers make good use of the space, and the type of plants used will minimise stray leaves and debris collecting in the water.
Top tip: A smaller outdoor space doesn’t mean you have to compromise on features. Use impressive additions like bungalows, plunge pools, and striking plant life to bring your outdoor area to life.
View property at: http://harcourts.co.id/Property/16518/HPN3278/Bukit-Jimbaran