Rental Stress - How to Avoid It

In many parts of the world, it is more common to rent than own. For some, renting can be stressful when issues arise because after all, renting is about where you call home.

Here are four common areas that can create rental stress and tips on how to avoid them:

  • Rent is too high
  • Lease uncertainty
  • Repairs
  • Bond returns

Try to remain calm and professional throughout your discussion and negotiation between tenant and owner.



Rent is too high

It can be stressful when your rent takes a large part of your income every pay cycle. For those on fixed incomes or government support, this can be a very significant portion.

Tenants should try to locate properties well within their means and factor in rental increases each year of around 2-5%.

Some property managers have tenant selection policies which try to avoid creating rental stress and choose tenants who have sufficient income or savings capacity to pay the rent.

Rent bidding apps are harmful because they encourage overpaying rental and causing renters to stretch to unsustainable and stressful rental bids.

Rent can not be increased during a fixed lease period and each state has limitations on the frequency of rent increases eg. after 60 days. Owners that implement excessive rent increases may have tenants take tribunal action and seek compensation.

Tips for tenants:

  • Choose properties within your comfort zone
  • Factor in annual increases as part of your household budget
  • Consider a housemate if times get really tough
  • Keep an eye on local market conditions and know where you stand on each rent review
  • If you fall into arrears, try to pay the outstanding promptly and if needed seek financial counselling. If the arrears continues, talk to the property manager about a payment arrangement

Tips for owners:

  • Consider reasonable rent increases
  • Vacancy can be your biggest cost
  • Good tenants are worth keeping



Uncertain lease terms

Flexibility can be ideal but for some renters but for others certainty of lease period is important for housing stability.

Snug’s platform enables owners to offer long term leases, in addition to the commonly available mid term leases.

Tenants that feel stressed about rolling leases should talk to their property manager about securing another fixed term lease. Read the cancellation terms carefully as some jurisdictions have significant financial penalties for ending a fixed term early.

Transparency and open communication is the key to a healthy rental relationship.

Tips for tenants:

  • Ask owners about their preferred lease terms (minimum and maximum) the first time around, although note this can change
  • Build open communication with your owner, it’s likely the stress of uncertainty goes both ways
  • Talk to the owner early about your desire to extend the fixed term, don’t leave it to the last minute incase adverse plans are made not in your favour

Tips for owners:

  • Build a relationship with your tenant and talk about lease periods as vacancy can be the biggest cost
  • Have a conversation if anything is unclear and document lease adjustments accordingly
  • Remember it’s a tenant’s home as well as your investment, housing disruption can result in high emotional and financial stress so considerate decisions



Repairs

Living with outstanding repairs is stressful, especially when the issue relates to everyday facilities.

Tenants can reasonably expect a property in good repair and maintenance. When the need for a repair arises, tenants should report the matter promptly and try to provide as much information as possible eg. photo, description of the issue and their opinion of priority.

Owners should endeavour to have urgent repairs such as leaking water or gas and blocked toilets resolved within 24 hours. Important repairs should be attended to quickly – typically within 2-3 days, including weekends.

Obtaining multiple quotes and arranging access can take time to organise so getting straight on to the tenant request is important. If the repair is urgent and an owner does not act quickly, tenants are permitted in some circumstances to arrange the repair and seek reimbursement for any expenses incurred.

Tips for tenants:

  • Report repairs required promptly to avoid damage to the property
  • Try to provide information about the situation
  • Be flexible with access or your times to attend the property

Tips for owners:

  • Maintain the property regularly eg. change out the hotwater system before it bursts
  • Respond promptly to requests for repairs
  • Understand the urgency and priority for the tenant
  • Balance getting quotes with the turnaround timeframe desired by the tenant



Bond Refunds

Bonds often represent around a month’s rent as security deposit and it can be stressful knowing whether you as a tenant will get that back without dispute.

Owners are required to present a case for a bond deduction. This might include a condition report on move in, with photos, as well as quotes or receipts for getting damage repaired.

Reasonable wear and tear can seem ambiguous and is often the source of disputes.

Both parties should keep proper records and notes of communication.

If there is damage during the lease, tenants should report it and arrange to have it repaired with the owner. It saves the stress and delay at the end of the tenancy. Tenants might consider getting independent quotes if they have any concerns about the owner’s repair cost estimate.

A period inspection at 3 months and 9 months can help mitigate any issues which might seem reasonable by the tenant but not reasonable by the landlord.

If a dispute does occur, it can be quickly resolved if both parties have good documentation and a reasonable approach to the claim and position. Despite the stressfulness of the situation, try to stick to the facts and avoid getting emotional.

Tips for tenants:

  • Ensure you have detailed reports and photos of the condition moving in
  • Document any issues through the tenancy
  • Ensure you have periodic inspections

Tips for owners:

  • Select tenants with good rental history
  • Follow proper processes for documenting the condition
  • Be reasonable with claims