Should I treat my investment property like a small business?

JULY 10, 2019

Yes, is the short answer. Actively managing your investment portfolio is vital to the success of positive investment returns. However, this may not be as simple as it sounds, and the best way to approach your investment is to treat it like a business.

Like a SME owner, investors must understand the supply and demand issues relating their rental property, income and expenses, and the business and legislative environments such as residential tenancy act and strata issues.

Also like a business, your property needs to remain competitive to attract customers (we call them tenants). To this end it’s vital that you, with the assistance of your Raine & Horne property manager, review the rent regularly, say every six or 12 months and with every change in tenancy, to ensure it remains competitive against the market. Likewise, try and get to as many of these property inspections in person as you can to give yourself a better understanding of how the investment is presenting.

Rental reviews are crucial as they can help determine the rental yields, you’re achieving. Knowing the rental returns is critical to understanding how your asset is performing.

Don’t forget that investors can claim as tax deductions ongoing repairs and maintenance. Maintenance work involves services such as gardening, plumbing, or pest control that protect against the deterioration of the home and help maintain its presentation standards. Meanwhile, repairs are any works carried out to restore part of the property to its original state of function. Keeping tabs on these expenses is another way you can take a leaf out of a small business owner’s handbook and keep your accountant and the taxman off your back. Likewise, make sure you are claiming the maximum depreciation from your property.

Depreciation is the wear and tear to your property and fittings, and is best measured by getting a depreciation schedule from the likes of BMT Tax Depreciation. Better still a depreciation schedule can be claimed as a tax deduction.

Business owners must choose from myriad insurances such as public liability, professional indemnity, and worker’s compensation, to name a few. Primarily, investors should consider landlord insurance to protect their assets, while strata insurance generally covers a strata building such as a block of apartments and townhouses and the common property and contents. Strata insurance is organised by the body corporate.

Also, recognise that like a business, the income and expenses from your investment property can change each month. It’s therefore essential to build a buffer to offset costs such as quarterly council rates, unexpected maintenance, and even special levies. Perhaps you could build a buffer by paying more off the mortgage than you need to cover for any unforeseen expenses. That said, getting the help of your accountant to help review your investment and repayment strategy is usually a sensible course of action. Just like a business plan, the key is to review and maximise the investment strategy for your rental property regularly.