An age-old conundrum that many retirees are likely to face is deciding whether to sell or lease out their family home. Chances are that all the kids have left the nest, leaving you with a property that’s just far too large for your own needs. And if property upkeep is becoming more of an arduous task on your own, then it could be worth converting your family home into a family-friendly rental property.

But how do you transition from a long time owner-occupier to a senior landlord? Thankfully, the process of transforming your home into a rental property is actually more straightforward than you may expect it to be. And with a little expert support at your disposal, Aussie seniors should find no issue with downsizing to a smaller property and maintaining their original family home as a rental property to take in rental income.

Here are just a few of the key considerations you’ll need to make when looking to take on the mantle that is landlordship.

Read up on your legal responsibilities

From changing the locks on your doors to securing landlord insurance to protect your property from tenant damage, there are many administrative steps that landlords can take to safeguard their property as it’s placed on the rental market. But what legal requirements must you also factor in when transforming your family home into a rent-ready property?

First, it’s imperative that seniors read up on the legal responsibilities that they can expect to take on when becoming a landlord. Understand that landlords are required to provide safe, secure, and comfortable properties for their renters. This means that your home should have adequate heating and cooling and that any existing property damage that may impact the comfort or safety of tenants should be addressed prior to placing your property on the rental market. 

Similarly, landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that their properties meet the minimum standards required for rentals by your state bodies responsible for overseeing housing and consumer affairs. If at any point your property fails to comply with these minimum requirements, your renters have the right to request urgent repairs on the property or to break their lease. With that, it’s in your best interests to tick all your legal boxes now and ensure the property is in good condition for prospective tenants.

Prepare your home for tenants

Of course, there’s more to preparing your home for tenants than just ensuring all your home repairs and maintenance items have been completed. Conscientious landlords also consider how best they can adapt their homes so that it suits the needs of their tenants. This can mean anything from repainting or removing wallpaper to provide cleaner interior spaces, to renovating your kitchens and bathrooms so that tenants can take full use of modernised fixtures and amenities.

Another component of preparing your home for tenants is designing low-maintenance garden spaces around your property. Although tenants have a legal obligation to keep your home in good condition over the course of their lease agreement, it’s common for garden spaces to become a little neglected. Landlords can prevent their garden spaces from becoming unruly by trimming all their plants down prior to placing their property on the market. You may even enlist the help of professional gardeners to come and maintain garden spaces throughout your property’s lease agreements.

Find a suitable property management agency

Once your property is all ready to be placed on the rental market, you’ll need to make sure that it’s advertised at a reasonable rental rate. This is where property managers come into the picture.

With their extensive local market experience and industry knowledge, property managers can help ensure that your rental property is fairly valued and leased out accordingly. Property managers can also provide support when it comes to screening prospective tenants and most importantly, handling tenant complaints or grievances.

Yes, property managers do take a cut of your rental returns, but their value more than justifies this expense – especially for senior landlords who may not have the time or energy to independently lease their property or properties.

Make a list of preferred handymen and tradespeople

Although your property management agency may already be able to provide you with access to their trusted trades professionals, some landlords opt to use their own trusted contacts instead. That way, you can ensure that any repairs or maintenance jobs that are carried out on your property are handled by trusted professionals rather than unknown third parties. 

Granted, this isn’t entirely a necessary step, as the trades professionals provided by your property agency will be required by law to maintain the same standard of service as your trusted contacts. Even so, landlords do have the right to make their own list of preferred handymen and other contractors, so feel free to do just that if it provides you with additional peace of mind.

Set up your financial record-keeping processes

Finally, you’ll want to set up record-keeping processes for all the paperwork, bills, and other payment documents that accompany being a landlord. A good rule of thumb here is to set up a dedicated email inbox for all your correspondence with your property managers. That way, you can easily find emails detailing things like maintenance or repair requests in a timely manner.

Similarly, you’ll want to keep track of all your rental income statements for tax purposes. This is best done digitally, so a dedicated email inbox is a great investment here. If you receive paper statements, then keeping a physical file can also provide additional peace of mind come tax time.

So long as you’ve been able to do your due diligence and have found the right tenants and property managers for your property, you should find being a landlord to be more enjoyable than it is stressful. After all, this arrangement will allow you to maintain an additional stream of income throughout your retirement, ensuring that you worry less about your finances and can focus instead on staying healthy, happy, and active during your senior years.

Image: Supplied.

This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Digital Next.

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