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Protect your Rental Property this Festive Season

With Christmas just around the corner, many people will spend the majority of their time out and about celebrating with family and friends and enjoying the festive period.

It’s also a time when residential properties may be targeted by opportunistic thieves, according to leading landlord insurance specialist, Terri Scheer Insurance.

“Many tenants tend to go away over the holiday break, leaving the property empty and landlords at an increased risk of bringing in 2015 with an insurance claim,” Carolyn Parrella, Executive Manager, Terri Scheer Insurance said.

Ms Parrella added there were a number of measures landlords could put in place to protect their rental properties this festive season.

Increase security

“When it comes to protecting your rental property, security should be front of mind,” Ms Parrella said.

“Install deadlocks on external doors and fit security screens to accessible windows to deter unwanted guests from breaking in.

“Having an active local or back-to-base alarm system in place can also help increase the security of the property while tenants are away.”

Make the property look lived in

“If a tenant is going away over Christmas, consider ways to create the impression the property is being lived in,” Ms Parrella said.

“Hiring a gardener to regularly maintain the exterior of the property is one way to avoid signs that the property is unoccupied, such as long grass, excess leaves covering pathways and overgrown foliage.

“Installing automatic motion-sensors or timed lighting systems will give the impression that someone is home when the lights turn on.

“Tenants should also be discreet about sharing their holiday plans or snaps on social media as broadcasting the fact to a wide network may give rise to the property being targeted by thieves.

“If a rental property isn’t tenanted, landlords should also consider telling a trusted neighbour that the property is vacant while a suitable tenant is found. 

“They can keep an eye on the property and alert you to any suspicious behaviour.”

Attend to maintenance promptly

“Tradespeople often go on extended breaks over Christmas and New Year which means it’s important any maintenance issues are dealt with promptly, and well ahead of the holiday period,” Ms Parrella said.

“Call outs over the Christmas break may also be more expensive so it pays to be prepared.

“While most maintenance issues may arise unexpectedly, landlords and property managers should encourage tenants to report any maintenance issues to them immediately.

“The sooner an issue is dealt with, the less chance there is for a legal liability claim to occur as a result of a safety hazard that hasn’t been addressed.”

Schedule earlier property inspection

“Appointing a property manager can take the everyday hassle out of managing a rental property,” Ms Parrella said.

“Property managers may be able to conduct their regular property inspections earlier in the lead-up to Christmas to ensure the tenants’ and landlords’ needs are met.

“This may help ensure the property continues to be well maintained and rent is paid on time over the busy festive season.”

Appropriate landlord insurance

“The last thing a landlord wants to do over the festive season is to make an insurance claim,” Ms Parrella said.

“Specialised landlord insurance cover can protect investors from many of the risks associated with owning a rental property and provide peace of mind if the unforseen should occur over the holiday break.

“This includes malicious and accidental damage, loss of rental income and the landlord’s legal liability as standard building and contents insurance policies usually don’t cover landlords for these risks.”

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