There are key differences between the rights of a property holder and the responsibilities placed on them when tenants are involved. Knowing these rights and responsibilities and ensuring they are followed through is important to ensure that what should be a good financial investment doesn’t become a drain on your resources and a liability.
So, let’s take a look at the main areas that a landlord is responsible for and the rights and entitlements you have concerning your rental property.
Core responsibilities of a landlord
Safety and maintenance of property
You have a duty of care to provide a safe and clean environment on the day the tenant moves in and to keep on top of any repair work. In particular, in the main living area and any appliances that are provided, these have to be maintained. It is important to note that there are time frames in which a landlord, or property manager once instructed, has to repair problems reported by the tenant. In some states and territories, the law is more specific around timelines, but most require urgent repairs to be undertaken immediately. The completion timeframe in New South Wales is “within a reasonable time”, in the Northern Territories, 5 business days after being told to make repairs or make arrangements for repair work to be completed within 14 days. If you use a property management firm, they will ensure you comply with the appropriate legislation, removing the hassle and saving you time and money.
If the tenant has to use their own money to affect an emergency repair, then as landlord, you will need to reimburse them but note there are conditions that apply to this.
Other main responsibilities include ensuring your tenant receives a copy, before they move in or on the moving day, of the relevant information guide pertaining to their rights as a tenant in the state or territory where the property is situated.
(Your property management company will be able to provide this as part of the service they offer).
Health and safety legislation compliant
You also have to comply with all health and safety legislation and ensure that the property is equipped with reasonable security. This means locks that are in good condition and you have keys for each lock that the tenant then receives.
Payment of all rates and taxes
While you receive an income from the tenant, it is your duty as a landlord to pay for any rates and taxes and all charges levied at your property.
Rights of a landlord
The choice of who to rent the property to falls under the rights of the landlord. However, it is very important that you do not discriminate against anyone applying to rent your property if they have protected characteristics under the Equal Opportunity Act. If you are found to have discriminated against potential tenants due to their marital status, gender, race or religion, then you will be liable for fines or damages.
Rental payment arrangement
Rental income can be requested to be paid on a basis to suit your requirements i.e. weekly, monthly or every 2 weeks. In turn, there are responsibilities attached to this as detailed and signed receipts must be provided to confirm the monies have been received. The information included should have the property address, date and amount of rent received along with the tenant’s name and the dates for which the rent has been paid. You have the right to increase the rent, but there will be some differences across the country around timings. Under all new tenancy agreements effective June 2019, rent increases will be limited to only once a year.
However, if on a fixed term tenancy, you have to wait until the end of the tenancy, otherwise, if on periodic lease, you can increase the rent (after giving 2 months’ notice to the tenant) once every six months.
Rental bond claim
You have the right to claim back money from the tenant if they leave without rent being paid, or if they cause damage to the property (over and above normal wear and tear) or fail to maintain it to a reasonable condition. However, in order to access this, it is important that you or your property manager put in place a rental bond. These are paid at the beginning of a rental agreement and held in trust by the requisite state government rental authority. The bond, which is a goodwill payment, is financial protection for the landlord should the tenant breach any part of their tenancy.
Access to the property and restrictions
Plus, while you do have right of access, again there are restrictions on this. Obviously, you will need to visit the property from time to time, for repairs or maintenance or to show new tenants around and the Australian Tenancies Acts cover the process and directives under which you can visit (for example, giving written notice etc).
Renting regulations differ across the states and territories, and laws and legislation are constantly amended and updated so keeping on top of all of these are very important, which is where working with an experienced property management company really pays dividends.
We make all aspects of property management simple for you so you don’t have to be fazed by all the legal aspects of renting out your investment property. Think property, call Kaz on 0421 413 283.