How to choose and install a reverse cycle air-conditioning system for apartments?

Wall mounted Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioner

Wall mounted Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioner

Most older style apartments and units in Australia were built without air-conditioning or heating. New apartments coming onto the market these days are generally fitted with reverse cycle air-conditioning which are either ducted (built into the apartment) or split unit system where each room has individually fitted wall-mounted units with an external compressor unit.

Some newer apartments have also been wired for reverse cycle air-conditioning by the developer should owners choose to install these systems subject to approval of the Owners’ Corporation. In these cases, the developer and Owners’ Corporation will specify the specific model of the split unit system that owners can install to ensure the system is compatible with internal wiring and noise level requirements.

Depending on the size of the room or living areas, split unit systems are very efficient as they can either heat or cool a space of up to 60 – 70 sqm. These systems also generally use less electricity because unlike ducted systems, occupants have the option of only using the split units for certain areas as opposed to ducted systems where the entire apartment or townhouse will be heated or cooled when the system is turned on.

Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioning

Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioning

I have found that although Mitsubishi and Daikin air-conditioners are slightly more expensive than other brands in the market,  the 5 kilowatt cooling and 5.8 kilowatt heating specifications are by far very effective for cooling or heating an area of up to about 70 sqm or more depending on the layout plan and positioning of the split unit. Bedrooms with smaller areas may only require models with a smaller heating / cooling capacity. Another great feature of these units is they are extremely silent and remote controls have a good working range around the entire room. Many developers and Owners’ Corporation also require these models to be fitted as the outdoor compressor units comply to noise level requirements.

Caution should be exercise in choosing the positioning of the outdoor compressor units as warm air being expelled from the unit may interfere with usability of the areas of the balcony or courtyard immediately next to the unit. Specially designed vents to redirect the warm air may be a solution to this issue if required.

Split level and maisonette style apartments should take into consideration whether the internal unit be install on the higher or lower levels depending on preference of heating and cooling during the winter and summer periods. Portable floor fans are extremely effective in redirecting hot air to lower levels and cool air to higher levels of split level apartments and town house by using the back of the fan as a suction device.

Portable floor fan

Portable floor fan

Prices may vary depending on capacity but generally range between $900 – $2,000 for both internal and external units. Installation will cost between $500 – $600 and it is important to choose a reputable installer. Not damaging walls and carpets is part of an experienced installer’s skill in addition to providing advice on the most effective position to install both the internal and external units.

I have also found Bing Lee to provide among the most competitive quotes for reverse cycle air-conditioning. They also have a list of installers but one needs to ascertain the installers are reputable as they are merely third party independent contractors.

External Mitsubishi compressor unit with specially fitted vents to redirect hot air

External Mitsubishi compressor unit with specially fitted vents to redirect hot air

Just Rent Sydney – award-winning team of the Inner West

Just Rent Sydney

Headed by Michelle Galletti, Just Rent Sydney is an award-winning property managementMichelle Galletti, Managing Director of Just Rent Sydney firm based in Annandale in the inner west of Sydney. As a fully licensed real estate agent, Michelle understands the intricacies of effectively managing investment properties for her clients where communication and managing expectations are crucial in fostering strong relationship.

The unique point of difference that Just Rent Sydney offers to landlords and property owners is the company is purely a property management firm just as its name suggests, it does not engage in property sales activities at all.

Michelle has a reputation for being a straight-forward and highly motivated property manager. However, it is Michelle’s strong interpersonal and people skills which sets her apart where her friendly disposition and natural ability to connect with people from all walks of life that satisfy the needs of her clients.

Due to the hard-work, dedication and commitment of Michelle and her team, Just Rent Sydney was the winner in the Real Estate Institute of NSW’s Awards for Excellence, Residential Property Management category in 2007, 2009 and a finalist in 2010.

Just Rent Sydney, 75 Booth Street, Annandale, NSW 2038. Tel: 9571 1891 Email: rent@justrentsydney.com.au

Infinity Property Agents ~ Passionate team of Sydney real estate agents

Infinity Property Agents 2

Michael Kurosawa -  Principal, Infinity Property Agents

Michael Kurosawa - Principal, Infinity Property Agents

Infinity Property Agents are property sales consultants and managers who specialise in the lower north shore, eastern suburbs, inner west and inner city areas of Sydney, Australia.

The Infinity team is headed by the Principal and Founder, Michael Kurosawa, who was previously  a Director / Partner of Realty Marketing in Neutral Bay providing specialised service and advice to regular clients which include Multiplex, Australand, Waltcorp, Macquarie Bank and Austcorp.

This dedicated team of Sydney real estate agents pride themselves in having a deep passion for customer service, knowledgeable in their respective areas of coverage and perpetuating lasting relationships with their clients. Infinity’s property management team conducts routine inspections every 5 months to provide a full photographed report with feedback and comments to their clients to ensure properties under their care are responsibly carried out.

Infinity Property Agents can be contacted at 9699 9179 or 0411 641 662 for your real estate requirements.

How to secure a rental property

Ray White, Epping

Ray White real estate agents in Epping, Sydney

Vacancy rates for rental properties in major capital cities across Australia are at all-time lows, some even going below 1% of available rental properties in the market.

There have been horror stories that renters in certain areas have just submitted application forms without even inspecting the property having more than 10 previous applications rejected. Due to the acute shortage in popular areas, some renters are taking more proactive steps to ensure their application gets the attention of the agents. Here are some top tips to make your application stand out from the crowd:

1. Prepare a cover letter. Submitting an application for rental is somewhat like an application for a job interview. You want to take a professional approach and this involves highlighting your greatest attributes. You need to have a good understand of what landlords wants – rent on time, every time and due care and maintenance of their property. Show the following in your letter:

  • Your enthusiasm – say why you like the property. Agents and landlords know that renters who value the rented premises tend to take better care of it. If you decide to stay for longer than the usual 6 or 12-month lease, it is advisable to state your intentions as landlords generally prefer good tenants with a long term lease.
  • Your rental history – if you have been renting for awhile, you should be able to provide a brief of your renting history, that you have always made payments on time.

2. References. These are important documents because it establishes your rental history and lend assurance to the agent and landlord that you are bona fide and can at least demonstrate an advantage over first-time renters.

3. Deposit and rental ledger. In a tight rental market, you have to be very quick if you have decided on the rental property you want. Be prepared to pay the required rent in advance and / or bond money to secure the premises. If you have been a good payer, obtain a copy of the rental ledger from your agent. This is one of the most powerful document that you can present which landlords regard very highly in their list of priorities.

4. Proof of employment. A letter of employment from your employer, pay-slips and bank statements are documents which shows agents and landlords that you are stable and can demonstrate income-earning capabilities.

Top tips for self-managing your rental property

Front facade by day

The Verve luxury apartments at Erskineville, Sydney

There are obvious pros and cons to self-managing your rental property. One of the key reasons owners choose to self-manage rather than giving it to a professional property manager is to save money. Some property investors may have a substantial property portfolio and the annual savings can amount to a fair sum of money. However, the main consideration is whether one has the time, knowledge of relevant regulations and expertise to effectively self-manage. Some investors who have achieved a substantial portfolio may view their time cost as too valuable to forego and paying a professional manager is more cost effective and moreover, the expenses  of the manager are tax deductible.

1. Understand the market

The DIY landlord needs to be on-the-pulse with rental rates of similar properties within the vicinity and have an idea of how future rates are trending to correctly set a competitive rental rate. Being price-sensitive is a prudent approach as it is better to forgo $10 over 52 weeks than having the property vacant for a couple of months. In a climate where rents are rising fast, testing the market by charging more may not result in securing the right kind of tenant. Some tenants may be willing to pay slightly more if they have been refused tenancy elsewhere or have a less than favourable history.

Good tenants are too good to lose. In keeping up with financial considerations of raising rents need to be balanced with keeping the good tenants.

2. Understand your own capabilities and personality

In self-managing the property, one has to have good inter-personal skills in terms of exercising courtesy, tact, firmness, understanding, compassion, objectivity and the list goes on. There are no hard and fast rules in maintaining a successful landlord-tenant relationship but it certainly calls for good people skills.

3. Legal and legislative structures

The legislative structures to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants vary in each state in Australia. One needs to be conversant with, among other legal structures, the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 No 26 and provisions of the Department of Fair Trading. One is required to be familiar with standard documents such as lease agreements and bond lodgement forms.

4. Leasing the property

This is an important part of self-management as it involves numerous tasks:

i) Advertising

Advertising is all about creating interest and enthusiasm for your property. In this respect, having good photographs which correctly represent your property is paramount – neat and tidy living areas, clean and uncluttered bathrooms, kitchen, well-maintained garden all adds to the appeal. Most professional managers do not include floor plans in the advertisement. I have found that a well written advertisement which details all the benefits such as modern conveniences eg reverse cycle air-conditioner, European kitchen appliances, storage, gymnasium, swimming pool and public amenities such as transport and schools will always create good interest and response. I also always include a floor plan to give tenants an idea of living space and logistics.

ii) Receiving enquiries

You need to receive enquiries in a courteous and professional manner. Understanding the process of tenant screening and acceptance gives tenants the confidence that you know exactly what you are doing being a self-managing landlord.

iii) Screening and qualifying tenants

This is probably the most important  process as it is easy to accept and extremely difficult to remove a “bad” tenant from the property. This process should cover questions relating to identification checks eg passport and driver’s license, tenancy and employment history, credit and reference checks and bank statements.

Interviewing tenants in person is imperative to get an impression, understanding and comparison of prospective tenants and one should not be afraid to ask probing questions in a courteous manner.

Google and checking tenant register is also a good way to try and find more information.

A good site is tradingreference.com

iv) Accepting tenancy application

Once you are happy with the tenant, accept the application quickly by signing the lease and accepting the bond and deposit monies. It is critical that bond monies are held with the appropriate authorities in each state.

v) Tenants moving in

An inspection of the property must be done and both the tenant and landlord agree and sign on the items observed.

5. Conducting inspections

The main purpose of inspections is to ensure the property is being adequately maintained by the tenant. There are relevant rules for each state as to how many times a property can be inspected within a year. As a general rule, an inspection can be carried out 3 months after initial occupancy and once every 6 – 12 months thereafter. Adhering to a consistent process in terms of frequency, notification and entry process develops a good rapport between the landlord and tenant.

Knowing the tenants’ interests helps  develop a good relationship. If the tenants are taking good care of my property and are consistently paying rent on time, I like to provide them with a token or gesture of goodwill by say giving them movie  / video vouchers, a box of cleaning products such as carpet and bathroom cleaners, plants for the courtyard etc.

Taking photographs of defects, wear and tear, damages and repairs are highly recommended during inspections.

6. Collecting rent

A clear and consistent process needs to be followed and the rent must be paid in full and on the specified date. It is better to get the tenant to agree to a direct debit from the tenant’s account on the day it’s due. This way, you will know straight away should there be insufficient funds.

7. Repairs and maintenance

As a self-managing landlord, legitimate repairs and maintenance needs to be carried out promptly and efficiently as this is the right of the tenant. You will need to develop strong relationships and have a good database of tradesmen such as electrician, plumber, handyman etc.

8. Record keeping

One needs maintain all proper receipts, statements, invoices and bills. Never wait until tax time where documentation is not in order.

Important information:

Abuse of visitors’ parking by residents – an instant solution

Instant solution - security bollards to stop errant parking

Security bollards at Meriton's Sienna by the Bay at Rhodes

Residents abusing visitors’ parking bays is a problem experienced by occupants of most apartment blocks in major towns and cities where valuable parking space is scarce.

Some residents who have more cars than their allocated number of parking bays go as far as deliberately parking in visitors’ parking bays in priority of their own just to secure additional parking spaces at the expense of legitimate visitors to the premises. These residents are not only inconsiderate, they are also blatantly flouting By-laws by their indifferent and selfish behaviour. Many Owners’ Corporation of apartment blocks resolve to various forms of enforcement in trying to curb and minimise errant parking by residents. These actions range from issuing warnings to drastic measures such as towing away the vehicles of errant parkers.

However, the most effective measure to curb abuse of visitors’ parking is to install security bollards for each parking bay. Depending on the number of apartments within a residential block, this method is effective because it addresses the root of the problem by preventing illegitimate parking in the first place. Newer apartment blocks are now resorting to this measure as it sends a clear message to residents about zero-tolerance for errant parkers. Residents who require the use of visitor’s parking for their friends and visitors can book for the parking ahead of time through the caretaker, security guards or building manager on duty at the premises.

The Sienna by the Bay apartments in Rhodes which were developed by Meriton have recently implemented this system in response to constant errant parking by residents who choose to ignore By-laws and abuse visitor’s parking. This is another example of strong management and maintenance standards being upheld by the management of Meriton apartments to ensure the quality and upkeep of the Sienna apartments are maintained.

Tenants – Up-front costs of your new rental home

Tenants who are renting homes and apartments need to be aware there may be a little more than paying a refundable up-front bond when signing on a new lease agreement with the real estate agent.

Depending on which state in Australia, there are one-off expenses which tenants may be required to pay, especially in the case of brand new apartments, units or townhouses which tenants are moving into for the first time. It is always advisable to check with the Department of Fair Trading if tenants are unsure about their rights and obligations.

Based on guidance from the Department of Fair Trading, a list of common expenses which the tenant is liable to pay in the course of leasing a new residential dwelling include the following items:

  1. Water usage – tenant can only be charged for the metered amount of water usage. In the event there is no individual meter for a rented premises such as apartments and units, then a tenant cannot be charged for water usage.
  2. One-off and on-going expenses which include opening of account with utilities such as:
  • Electricity provider
  • Gas provider
  • Telephone / internet service provider

The landlord is responsible to pay for all service charges relating to water and sewerage issued by the local water supply authority. Under no circumstances can connection fees be passed on to the tenant.

Another brand new Erskineville apartment for rent

IMG_0052

With the imminent completion of the Verve’s luxury apartments in Erskineville by renown property developer AV Jennings, the first of its 106 apartment is now available for rent in Sydney’s hip and eclectic inner west.

This brand new, top floor apartment boast a 30sqm sun-drenched balcony over-looking serene internal gardens, swimming pool and tennis court. Filled with day long natural light, this north-west facing unit boasts a large 90sqm internal space with open plan kitchen and dining which walks out to the balcony made for entertaining, summer BBQs, sunbathing or to simply to read your favourite book.

Why I would rent this apartment:

  • Brand new and top floor apartment with spanking new Smeg / Omega gas kitchen and other high-quality finishes.
  • The sun-drenched 30sqm balcony is built for entertaining family and friends and adds a fresh dimension to the already large 90sqm internal open-living plan.
  • Located within a 5-minute walk to St Peters train station, you are merely 3 direct stops or 10-minute train ride from Central station and 6 direct stops from Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House and the Botanic Gardens.
  • A double side-by-side car space means you will never have to hunt for scarce public / visitor parking in this popular inner city location for your second car.
  • Sydney Park’s outdoor activities – walking, running, biking, family picnics, is 5 minutes away. Sydney Park is also a leash-free park for dog lovers.
  • 10-minute drive to Sydney CBD, Chinatown, Broadway Shopping Centre, Sydney Fish Markets and Sydney airport.
  • Erskineville and Newtown’s cafes, pubs, restaurants precinct located within a 10 minute stroll.

Other key features include:

  • Master bedroom walks out to sunny north-west balcony
  • Built in wardrobes in both rooms
  • Reverse cycle air-conditioning
  • Large 8sqm basement storage facility
  • Study nook with ducting for internet connection
  • Cable TV connection points in living and master bedroom
  • Internal laundry and dryer facility
  • Convenient garbage chute disposal
  • Security video intercom

This apartment is available from early December and is managed by Johanna Cheong from Infinity Property Agents at 0430 597888.

Related articles:

How to find a good property manager

Good property manager

Apart from charging a reasonable rate for managing your investment properties, I value the following criteria which makes a great property manager:

1. Service and responsiveness

The time when you need your property manager most and the acid test to his capability is in finding you quality tenants. A good property manager will not accept the first or any tenant that comes along but will diligently check references to ensure your tenant is of good repute, will pay rent in full and on time and will take good care of your property over the course of the tenancy. Responsiveness in putting up advertisements, conducting inspections with tenants and having good knowledge and information about your properties is key to being able to effectively market your properties to the desired tenants. Good property managers will have intimate knowledge of rental and vacancy rates in your suburb, understand local trends and attractions and be able to advice you on your obligations as a landlord to attract and secure quality tenants.

A good property manager will also never hand out keys to tenants for them to do inspections unattended. Yes, believe me that some property managers do just that and if and when that occurs, it’s time to look for a new manager.

Property managers are usually a part of a real estate agency whose core business is in buying and selling properties for their clients and earning good commission from that process. Therefore, the property management aspect of a real estate agency is usually a support function or a secondary priority business and can sometimes be viewed as being “less glamorous” by certain agencies.  One way to ascertain good property managers is whether there is a separate function within the real estate agency with staff specifically dedicated to taking care of rental properties and maintenance.

Good property managers also have their preferred listing of plumbers, electricians, locksmiths and other important tradesmen with proven and tested quality workmanship to call upon in the event your properties are in need of repair or maintenance. This will ensure repair and maintenance work on your properties will be carried out effectively and at competitive prices.

2. Attention to detail and documentation

Keeping proper records such as repair bills, utilities, providing detailed monthly statements, yearly summaries for tax purposes are all part of a good property manger’s traits in keeping a client informed and having your properties under good care.

Periodic inspections with updated photos  on the state of repair of your investment properties are part of the service accorded by some of the better property managers.

3.  Website

A good indication of a good property manager is the quality of his website. Needless to say that you should not even bother with property managers who do not have a website. Check  your property manager’s website to ascertain if he has an objective or mission for customer / landlord care, staff who are dedicated to property management, the number and type of properties for lease, testimonials etc.

4. Tenant care

A good property manager not only has your interest as the landlord at heart but will also attempt to understand and appreciate your tenant’s reasonable needs and requirements. As a landlord, you should also appreciate that any reasonable request by a tenant should be considered because a happy tenant as opposed to a disgruntled one will also have your property at heart. This will ultimately develop into a win-win situation for both landlord and tenant over the long run and minimise tenant turnover which costs more time and money than keeping a good tenant happy.

Overall, a good property manager will ensure your properties are always tenanted, rent monies paid on time by the tenants and deposited into your bank account in a timely manner, repairs and maintenance carried out effectively and most importantly, keep good records on your behalf and keep your tenants happy for a mutually beneficial relationship.

How to maintain happy tenants



One of my favourite properties in my portfolio is a 1 bedroom courtyard unit in Rhodes. It has a total area of 85sqm which includes a good size, north facing courtyard of 20sqm. The compelling strengths of this property are as follows:

Guiding Principle

Compelling strengths:

1 bedroom apartment at Sienna by the bay, 2 – 8 Marquet street, Rhodes

New or near new Building completed in February 2008.
Tenant’s amenitiesIMG_0017 The apartment is set within a security compound with a large 20sqm, north-facing courtyard which extends onto the immaculately maintained garden and common grounds, giving an added sense of space and serenity.
Access to public transport 150m to Rhodes train station, buses to CBD.
Local attraction and lifestyleRhodes shopping centre by night Walking distance to Rhodes shopping centre, Rhodes business park, walking and cycling track along the water foreshore to Bicentennial Park, Homebush Bay and Olympic centre.Cycling path, Rhodes water foreshore

Within walking distance to the Rhodes business park which now includes large organisations like Unysis, Australand, Hewlett Packard, Lion Nathan, Alcatel-Lucent, Nestle.

Attractive floor plan Fairly large with a total of 85sqm of living space.

The toilet is a separate powder room with its own basin. This is the only 1 bedroom unit in the Sienna development of over 300 units with this distinguishing feature where the toilet is separate from the bathroom.

Common grounds, Sienna by the Bay

This unit has been tenanted since day 1 and is currently rented for $450 per week.

Rental rates have increased for Rhodes apartments over the last couple of years. 1 and 2 bedroom units are asking around $400 – $475 per week and $520 – $600 per week respectively. This could be fuelled by having the convenience of the Rhodes shopping centre and train station within such close proximity.

Over the past 18 months, new developments have come on-stream and these include the following:

1. Tandara development – 1, 2 and 3 bedders by Mirvac.

2. VQ development – 256 units of 1,2 and 3 bedders developed by BilBerger with an average price of approximately $580k.

3. Peninsula development – 1, 2 and 3 bedders by Meriton

For investors who are keen to consider apartments in Rhodes, I have conducted some research on this suburb for your benefit. Please feel free to give me your feedback and comments!

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