Question: My investment property remains unoccupied – how can I increase its appeal?

Answer: By Carolyn Parrella, Executive Manager, Terri Scheer Insurance

Landlords risk losing valuable rental income if they do not consider and meet the expectations of prospective tenants.

Tenant expectations have come a long way over the years, and while preparing a rental property can be stressful at the best of times, it’s important to make a property an attractive proposition to potential tenants.

Doing so can make a substantial difference to the time it remains unoccupied and the amount of rental income the landlord can earn.

The following tips may help you to maximise your investment property’s appeal.

• Add modern conveniences

Properties with features that are above and beyond standard are likely to appeal to a higher proportion of potential tenants.

For instance, having the infrastructure to support high speed internet could be a must-have for some tenants who may work from home, study or have a growing, tech savvy family. For families, the addition of an ensuite may be more appealing than one shared bathroom.

Other features such as dishwashers, security and automatic watering systems are also likely to have greater appeal to tenants.

• Think of the environment

Solar power systems and rain water tanks can appeal to environmental or cost-conscious investors and tenants who seek protection from increasing utility costs.

While these additions to a rental property require an investment for the property owner, they may represent long-term benefits, such as reduced ongoing costs and a higher likelihood of tenancy.

• Address maintenance issues

The saying “first impressions count” rings true in property investment. It is essential that the property is presented in the best possible light for prospective tenants, both before, during and after inspections.

One of the common traps for landlords is letting the garden become overgrown or starved of water. Clusters of weeds and brown patches of lawn won’t create a good impression and may suggest to prospective tenants that the landlord doesn’t care about the property or maintain it to an appropriate standard.

Consider other maintenance issues that are sometimes out-of-sight, out-of-mind, such as servicing gas appliances and changing air-conditioning filters. These small tasks can save a landlord the embarrassment of not having hot water or an air conditioner blowing out hot air when the property is showcased to potential tenants.

• Bring in the professionals

It may be worthwhile for landlords to seek professional advice on the look and presentation of the investment property.

Vacated properties with no furniture don’t generate as much emotional appeal and make it harder for prospective tenants to envisage living at the property. Consider hiring a stylist or decorator to add furniture and/or artwork. This may increase the appeal of the property and help to find a tenant quicker.

Specialist businesses can take the headache out of presenting a property for rent. They may also be able to maximise the amount of rent you request for the property.

• Obtain appropriate insurance

Fitting out an investment property with added features makes it even more important to obtain appropriate insurance. Theft and damage can be costly for landlords if they do not have adequate insurance to cover replacement costs.

Even the best tenant can accidentally damage the property or suffer financial hardship, however, a standard home and contents insurance policy may not cover landlords for these particular risks.

A specifically designed landlord insurance policy can help landlords avoid being left out of pocket should these unforeseen insurable events occur.

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Carolyn Parrella

Carolyn Parrella joined Australia's leading landlord insurance specialists, Terri Scheer Insurance, in 2004 and was appointed Executive Manager in 2009.
 
Carolyn oversees all operations within business, which aims to protect landlords against the risks associated with owning a rental property. These include malicious damage by tenants, accidental damage, legal liability for occurrences on the property that cause death or bodily injury, and loss of rental income as a result of damage to a property or a tenant absconding.
 
As a South-Australian based national insurance firm, Terri Scheer Insurance is the only company in Australia to specialise solely in landlord insurance.
 
Carolyn also owns two investment properties.

For further information, visit www.terrischeer.com.au or call 1800 804 016.