The Weekly FAQ: advice on the cost of garage conversions, uncooperative tenants and room security

Cost of garage conversion

Q: I’m looking to convert my garage into a granny flat. In terms of cost, I’m wondering what a ballpark figure would be? I live in Victoria. - Josh

A: Hey Josh, thanks for your question. The cost of a garage conversion can be anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 - so probably not as cheap as some people think. If you would like the space to be fully self-contained, then adding a bathroom and a small kitchen will drive the cost up even more.

Remember to do your research as laws and regulations vary from state to state, and at the council level. Where you live can also impact whether the granny flat will be regarded as a ‘second dwelling,’ and if so, it may be required to have its own bathroom, kitchenette and living area. To be sure it’s a good idea to seek info from your local council to find out if you need to lodge a DA, apply for a building certificate or pay a ‘contribution fee.’

Working with an uncooperative tenant

Q: I’m currently selling my investment property which I’ve rented out to the same tenant for roughly three years. I’ve not met him, but he’s a good tenant and I’ve never had a problem with him.

I’ve notified him that I’m selling and have given him six weeks’ notice. I’ve had an agent in to do an appraisal and also a photographer to take photos for the listing. The agency that manages the property is also selling it, and they say he was okay with all of these things and was given the appropriate notice.

However, after the first round of inspections he suddenly became uncooperative, saying he didn’t want his personal belongings in the ad, pushing back on planned inspections times and refusing to tidy up before prospective buyers come and look at the house. I’m not sure what to do, so any guidance would be appreciated. - Tess

working with an uncooperative tenantA: Hi Tess, thanks for reaching out. It sounds like a difficult situation to deal with. We would suggest in the first instance that you should have a frank conversation with your agent, find out that all notice was given according to the law, and then be guided by their advice.

If your tenant has a history of being great, then you’ll want to find out why they’re suddenly being uncooperative. Are they a shiftworker? If so, perhaps your agent is organising early morning inspections that are too disruptive to his lifestyle. Whatever the case, you need to get to the bottom of it first and then attempt to remedy it.

As a way to make an uncomfortable situation easier to swallow, you can offer your tenant incentives. You could take $50 off the weekly rent in return for making the property presentable. You can even offer him a week of free rent if the property sells to assist with moving costs.

If your tenant is incredibly unhappy, you can also offer for him to break the lease early. While you might miss out on weekly rental income, it can offer benefits as well, and you may even sell your property faster.

Room security

Q: If you live in a rented house does the landlord have to secure your room by putting locks on the rooms? Thank you. - Leonard

A: Hi Leonard. Apart from locks and keys for entry doors, landlords do not have to provide locks for single rooms in a house. The only time this is an exception is if the property is a boarding house or rooming house.

That being said, landlords are required to ensure that their property is ‘reasonably secure.’ So If security is an issue, you should speak to your property manager. Depending on the situation, you may be able to get your landlord to add locks on both internal and external doors, but a landlord will need to consider the degree of security needed for each lock.

Do you have something you want answered? Drop us a line!

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