Landlord Maintenance: What Do You Actually Need To Take Care Of?

As a tenant there are aspects of a property that you need to take responsibility for and there are other aspects which fall as your landlord’s responsibilities. To begin with we will outline the things that need to be legally looked after by your landlord, so that you are aware of what you need to take care of yourself. We will also highlight other aspects that a landlord can look after but doesn’t necessarily have to do so.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are a requirement that a landlord has to have installed in a rental property. Smoke alarms have to be in full working order and be attached to the mains or have a long battery life. Although it is a legal requirement for them to be installed, it is advisable that tenants conduct regular tests to make sure that they work properly.

Gas and Electrics

If a house has central heating, it needs to be checked regularly for leaks and for any sign of carbon monoxide related issues. If your property is not fitted with a central heating system, your landlord needs to ensure that the property if property ventilated and has access to heating. If a property has the ability to be able to control its climate, the tenants are likely to stay longer.

Insulation

From 1st July 2019, it will be compulsory for properties to be insulated for all new tenancy rental agreements. Rental managers will be able to offer you more advise on this changing law.

Security

This is an area that needs to be taken seriously by both the landlord and the tenant. Your landlord may already have some form of residential security systems in place or they may have basic door and window security. If you are a tenant and you only have the basic level of security installed, it is worth asking your landlord if they will be happy to put more security features into the property.  However, if he believes that the property has enough security in place, it may be down to you to increase the security. This is something you will need to discuss with your landlord and see if he is happy about it.

General Maintenance

Once you move into a rental property your landlord will advise you of what is expected of you. Landlords will take care of any structural work required on the property as well as general maintenance such as fixing of toilets or windows etc, plumbing related issues etc. You as the tenant will also be liable for the general upkeep of the property for example, looking after the garden, DIY house wash, cleaning the windows as well as general cleaning of the house.

Pests and Infestations

The landlord has a responsibility to make sure that your rental property is free from any pests or infestations. There are a number of steps that a landlord can take to ensure that the property is free of the above before a property is rented out. It is the tenant’s responsibility to continue to keep a house clean and tidy and keep it in a condition that will deter pests or an infestation.

Environment

The landlord has the responsibility of maintaining good relations with neighbouring properties. By the term quiet we mean that there must be space for you to have a reasonable amount of space, comfort and privacy. The tenant’s responsibility is to make sure that they conduct themselves in an appropriate manner and also respect neighbouring properties, in simple terms, treat the property as if it was their own.

Bylaws / Laws

The landlord has to make sure that he/she provides the tenant with a safe home. They must ensure that all local laws and bylaws are adhered to and supply any information that the tenant may need. The tenant responsibility is to make sure that whilst they are resident, that they also keep within the laws stated.

Checking and Inspections

A landlord needs to give notice for an inspection. Before you move in it is worth taking pictures of the property in its original state and share these with the landlord. The landlord has the right to take pictures of their property as long as they don’t take pictures of your belongings. A landlord needs to give a minimum of 48 hours’ notice and they have to visit the property between the hours of 8am and 7pm. Landlords are only allowed to visit once in a four-week period. If the landlord or tenant notices that something is broken, damaged or needs fixing, they will have to agree a date to fix the issue. If inspection is required after the issue, 48 hours’ notice still needs to be given.

Property Access

As mentioned above, a landlord has the right to inspect the property as he owns it, but at the same time the landlord must respect a tenant’s privacy as they are residing in the property. As long as the landlord gives the correct amount of notice time and gains permission from the tenant, he is able to enter the property. The landlord can also enter the property in the case of an emergency such as a fire or a flood. If a landlord is fixing something that has been previously agreed on, a tenant must have been given 24 hours’ notice for essential maintenance repairs. Cosmetic changes should be done at a mutually agreed time.

The landlord and tenant relationship can work hand oi hand as long as both parties stick to the guidelines that have been set out. There should be no need for any problems to arise as long as both parties are fully aware and respect what is expected of each other.

9 Things You Wish You Knew Before You Bought Your First Home

Buying a home comes with highs and lows and there are many things that you will have wished you’d have known before you’d taken the plunge and bought your first home. If you’ve not yet purchased your first home but you are about to, we will outline 9 things that you need to be aware of before you take the leap.

  1. Price

When you buy a property, you need to remember that it’s one of the biggest purchases that you will ever make. Therefore, getting your finances in order is one of the best ways of reducing the stress linked to buying. Kiwisaver for first home buyers is a great way to start putting some money away. It can also be referred to as first home Kiwisaver, depending on the lender that you approach.

It is often a worry for first time buyers when they think about the amount of money that they need to borrow in order to purchase their first home. What you have to appreciate is that home loans are over a longer period of time than standard hire purchase. Houses to buy in certain areas may carry greater financial risk to a lender which means they could offer higher interest rates.  Pre-purchase inspections are vital as this will give you and your lender lots of detail about what you are about to purchase. The final point to take into account when it comes to price is that mortgage brokers are on hand to be able to get you the best deal, with the lowest fees and the most favourable interest rates.

  1. Area

We can be very picky when it comes to picking an area to live. It’s not unusual to turn out noses up to areas that we don’t want to love but this may not be a great decision. It may be that these areas that you have decided that you don’t want to live in areas that will suit you when it comes to prices and especially if you are looking to purchase a property when the housing market is booking and the prices are at their highest.

  1. Research

It’s important to do your homework and research what you are thinking of purchasing your first home. Look into freeholds and leaseholds and look if there are any new plans in place in the area which may affect your home.

  1. Aesthetics

When you have decided to purchase your first property, it is easy to get carried away with certain aspects. However, it is also easy to be put off by the interior design and style that’s been put in by the previous occupier. For example, if you have a bright pink bathroom, this is an aspect that can easily be changed and shouldn’t influence your decision to purchase the property.  

  1. Fees

When you have the excitement of buying your first home, you will have usually looked through the local press, estate agents and online. You will be presented with the buying prices of a property but you have to be aware that there are a number of fees that you will need to factor in to the buying process of your property. If for example you have a property worth $200,000 and that is at the top of your budget, you may need to consider looking at a cheaper property so that you can afford to pay the fees that come with the purchase of a property.  Government and solicitor fees are the main fees that you will encounter.

  1. Be Prepared

Buying a home doesn’t happen overnight and you need to be prepared for this. It can take months for the whole process to complete.

  1. Agents

Never undervalue what you will get out of an experienced agent. The agent is there to help you find a home that you want and the process of getting it for you. An agent can also provide you with important advice, answer any questions that you have, negotiate where necessary, clear up any problems and point out any issues with the property. It’s worth looking for a recommendation when it comes to finding an agent and then meet the agent in person so you can get a feel for them yourself.

  1. Buildings Insurance

It may seem obvious to some but getting your building’s insurance in place is often a prerequisite to a mortgage offer. You may not be aware of this but you become liable for the building as soon as you change contracts and not the day that you move in. Building insurance doesn’t only cover your building, it also helps to cover any damage to other property which is caused by your property. Some policies also provide you legal cover in the event that anybody suffers from an injury whilst in your property.

  1. Rental Market

If you’ve decided that you want to buy your first home for rental reasons, it is advisable to undertake a rental appraisal before you make any purchase. You can carry out a rental appraisal online if that suits you better. There are other important areas to consider when renting out a property. For example, getting in touch with a local estate agent to get advice on potential rental incomes. If you have gone beyond that stage and are looking at prospective tenants, it is important that they are vetted properly i.e. credit checks and referencing. Before you rent out your home, it is important that you make sure that all local legislation has been adhered to, even if this means going as far as conducting a meth residue drug test as you may not know the history of the property you have bought. Here’s some other signs to look for in a meth lab house.

These 9 areas are worth having at the forefront of your mind when it comes to purchasing your first property so that you don’t make the same mistakes as other first-time buyers and  end up regretting your decision because you didn’t take any advice into account from the beginning.

Kiwis feel better about houses

Post-election house price worries seem to have subsided, ASB’s latest housing confidence survey shows.

The bank’s research showed, in the three months ended May this year, a net 32 per cent of respondents thought house prices would rise over the next year.

House Been Broken Into? What To Do Next

If you’ve recently been the unfortunate victim of a house break-in, you may be unsure of what you could do next in terms of making your more property safe and secure. Once the police and forensic scientists have been and looked over your home for fingerprints or other forensic procedures such as meth testing, you will be eager to get your home back to the way it was before this incident. We will therefore provide you with a guide of what you should do next to get your home safe and secure once again.

Improve Standard of Locks

Higher quality locks will be harder to snap by thieves which means this will slow down the entry to your property. These are called anti snap locks and are readily available from most DIY stores or locksmiths. If they have been installed, they are usually obvious to a thief and they therefore act as a good deterrent.

Install Security Lighting

Security lighting is a great way of protecting your property as it keeps would be burglars guessing. There are two main forms of security lighting to consider. Then first is external lighting and the second is internal lighting.

Exterior lighting, whether its PIR or dusk till dawn, will keep your dark areas luminated at nightfall. Although most burglaries take place during the day, this extra protection at night will act as a great deterrent, as no burglar likes to operate in well-lit conditions. To explain in more detail, PIR lighting is triggered by movement or the heat of a person or an animal. Dusk till dawn lighting comes on at dusk and remains on until dawn.

Internal lighting works by a timer. You can connect any free standing internal light to a timer. The times can be set to come on at a random time of the day or night, as if you have entered that room. The illumination of these lights can be seen from the outside, giving the illusion that the house is occupied, even when it is not. These timers are inexpensive to purchase but very effective in what they do.

Consider Security Alarms

Adding an alarm to your property is important as a visual deterrent and as an actual deterrent. If for example, a burglar sees that you have an alarm fitted, they may think twice about trying to enter your property. If, however, they are still intent on gaining access to your home, the alarm will be triggered. The noise that an alarm creates will shorten the time that the burglars are in your property unnoticed and the alarm will alert neighbours and passer byers that something is not quite right. You can contact local security services providers to find out more information about the latest technology when it comes to security alarms and which alarm may be the best for you and your property.

CCTV

Closed circuit television is a great way of catching criminals in the act. As with alarms, CCTV also acts as a great deterrent to deter any burglars from your property. Most CCTV units can hold at least one week’s worth of recording, but there is the potential to increase this, it all depends on which CCTV option you go for. Modern CCTV can be purchased so that the footage is in HD Quality and you can even download an app on to your smartphone which enables you to watch live footage of your property.

Upgrade Windows/Doors

Another option to consider is to upgrade your windows and doors to combat criminal activity within your property. Your windows can have an option known as laminated glass. This would mean your windows have a Perspex insert which is very hard to penetrate. This again slows down any potential burglar. Windows can also be fitted with additional locks that will stop the windows from being able to be physically opened.

Upgrade your doors so that they are harder to get in to. For example, you could look into getting composite, steel or wooden doors. These are stronger and therefore harder to be forced. If you have any French doors then it is worth purchasing a lock which prevents the handles from opening. If you have any patio doors, once again you could consider having the glass laminated and adding additional locks to the top and bottom of the doors.

When Your Home is Empty

When your home is empty i.e. you are away on holiday it’s worth asking a friend, family member or neighbour to keep an eye out on your property for you. Ask them to take any post that has been delivered through your door away from the door so that it is not obvious to a burglar that no one is home as the post has not been picked up. Additionally, keep to your normal routines, so for example if you have a gardener or exterior window cleaners which come to your property every two weeks, make sure that they still continue to carry out the work they would have done if you were home, as you don’t want to change any routines or habits, as again these can be picked up by potential burglars.

Additional Points

Other aspects that you could consider are:

–          Leaving a dog bowl at your front door, regardless of whether you have a dog as this could be a potential deterrent.

–          Leave your car parked on the driveway so that there is the illusion that someone is home.

If you take as much of this advice into account as possible, you will start to see and feel the benefit. Your home will feel safer and it will be more secure, which hopefully will work as the best deterrent to scare off any future burglars.

 

Should You Have An Estate Plan?

In life we all face many challenges and there is nothing more trying than having to sort out your affairs upon your death. We all have an ideal, that any money that you have amassed over the years with be left to those that you care the most about. However, all too often we have not planned our futures in time and many aspects of your estate may not have been dealt with, which therefore makes it difficult for those who are left behind. Below we will outline why you should have an estate plan in place and what it is involved in estate planning.

Your Estate Size

The size of your estate can affect the way in which your estate is legally handled. For example, larger estates are liable for more taxes and charges and are often more complicated in nature compared to smaller estates. If you have property, it is worth contacting some estate agents to value your property and a property manager from a property management agency to then take over with the sale side of things. Once you are happy with the valuations that you have received for your property, you can now look at getting a home property management company to manage your affairs for you. It is also worth bearing in mind that it is good practice to get a builder’s report for any property or properties that you have as this will give the people that are inheriting your property the peace of mind that they will not have any headache or costs resting on them.

Taxes

Depending on the size of your estate, there is usually a tax liability to pay. Around the world, there are different rules and regulations that are in place related to inheriting money. Contacting an estate lawyer is the best way to obtain advice and information on how to best deal with your affairs. Even if you have a relatively straightforward case of one property and material effects, there still needs to be a solid, robust plan in place so that any beneficiaries have a stress-free situation when you pass away. It is hard enough dealing with a loss and grief without having to deal with messy affairs related to an estate.

Children / Future Children

Your children are often the first in line when it comes to inheritance. Therefore, if you already have children it is worth having a conversation about their inheritance with them, so that everyone is aware of your decisions and wishes. If you have no children at present but you may do so at some point, you need to make sure that they are included in your estate plan and in your will.

If your children are under the age of eighteen, having an estate plan would be highly recommended. The reason for this is because any money is often held in trust until a child turns eighteen and some cases, the plan can initiate regular payments when your child hits specific milestones in age. For example, eighteen years of age, twenty-one years of age etc and the money is then fed to them in stages.

To Keep Affairs in Order

Having a complicated estate or leaving things unfinished will only give your beneficiaries trouble when it comes to inheriting. It is important that any outstanding debts are dealt with and a clear plan is put in place for any properties, assets and personal effects that you may have. It is not worth leaving leave things to chance because if you have a particular wish or request, this may not be fulfilled legally as it’s not been noted officiated. Try not to over complicate matters related to your inheritance.

To Protect Beneficiaries

Having an estate plan in place will help to protect your beneficiaries. There are two reasons why people use estate plans to protect beneficiaries:

–          Adult Protection: this will help the beneficiary with their inheritance. It will help them avoid making bad decisions, creditor problems, outside interference and divorcing spouses.

–          Protecting Minors: young people don’t have the maturity to deal with inheritance and therefore they are protected in this aspect.

To Avoid Probate

It is becoming more and more popular that people are now giving over their inheritance to their children and family before they actually pass away. This is to avoid any charges and taxes which arise through probate. This also eliminates solicitors being involved and having to work out who inherits what. Even in a case where an estate has not been contested, it can take over twelve months for an estate to be settled and there is no guarantee that it will settle in the way that you would have wished.

Privacy Concerns

An estate plan is imperative if you wish to minimise any concerns related to privacy that you may have. When somebody’s estate is in probate, information can be accessed by the public. Therefore, this can affect your privacy. It is also worth noting that other relatives and creditors can access these records and are able to make challenges to your estate, via the courts. If however, your estate plan is robust, then these challenges and claims will be thrown out of court.

Charity

If you wanted to make a charitable donation with your estate, having an estate plan would be the best way to go about this as giving an estate to charity is not something that would happen under normal circumstances. This is unless it has been specified in your estate plan.

It is clear that there are many reasons for having an estate plan. Although we may think that this issue may never affect us, it affects everyone at some point their their lives. An estate plan is a relatively simple thing to organise and the benefits of it are far reaching.

 

‘We build cheap’ in NZ

New Zealand homes actually have surprisingly short lifespans. Maynard Marks Limited director Stuart Wilson said many Kiwis became “quite upset when they found out” houses have minimum lifespan requirements of just 50 years for the building’s structure and 15 years for the durability of the exterior cladding.