A good, old-fashioned spring clean is one of the best things you can do to maintain your investment - and keep your tenants happy at the same time.
But it's important not to stretch the friendship - whether you intend to work some magic in the garden, add a splash of paint, service the air conditioners and heaters, or upgrade the carpet or window furnishings.
Work with your property manager. It's best for them to schedule your work on the one day or weekend to minimise disruption to tenants. This means they can go away, and return to their new, improved home with the work completed.
From experience we have found that when tenants feel appreciated, they make an extra effort to protect your property. So it's a win-win scenario for all.
A good place to start when planning improvements is the condition report from the start of the lease.
Accounting for wear and tear, it's vital to take note of any deficiencies outlined in the report and make them a priority on any to-do list.
Once you have compiled a list of jobs, ask your property manager if any other issues need to be addressed. The key to retaining tenants in an increasingly tough market is all about planning, and this includes being proactive with maintenance.
Prevention is always better than cure, so attend to any minor matters before they become a major issue. A bonus is the tax deductibility, which also helps your accountant keep your finances on track. Being prepared is in your best interests, and now more than ever.
The rental market is remaining solid, but the past 12 months reflect the caution still lingering from the global financial crisis. This is evident in the time that properties are sitting on the market awaiting a tenant.
Those renting have a better choice of properties from which to choose, meaning the best presented and maintained homes will always go first.
The good news emerging from the 2011 Census for landlords is that more people are opting to rent rather than buy. Tighter household budgets, coupled with rising vacancy rates, have translated to rent increases being the exception rather than the norm. And in those cases, any increase was minimal.
The influx of apartment and townhouse developments in Brunswick, Carlton and Fitzroy ensures that supply of new dwellings will meet demand in the short to medium term.
This should act as a timely reminder for those with older-style dwellings to update if they wish their investment to remain as an attractive option to potential tenants.
It's true that winter is traditionally the season in which tenants hibernate, with very few prepared to face the prospect of moving in chilling winds or rain. But I would envisage that the rental market will begin to thaw, and rise to the occasion when temperatures and confidence return.
Act now and you can make sure you're ready for when the tide turns.