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Illegal Renovation by Tenants
Question: I’ve just found out my tenants have been doing their own little renovation to my property. They’ve installed a few picture frames, which means they drilled holes in the wall. They’ve also repainted the bathroom a ghastly purple colour. Since we only inspect twice a year, we didn’t know this had happened until recently. What are my options with regard to making the tenants undo these renovations? Can I kick them out? Should I just ask them to pay for the cost of repair?
Answer: Alterations and additions to the premises are covered in standard lease agreements under clauses 1, 2, 3, 4 and 27. If the tenant has not been given permission to make changes to the property, they can be held liable for the cost of repairs and repainting.
A tenancy can also be terminated on the grounds that they have actually breached their tenancy agreement by not getting written permission to do the renovations, and the cost of repairs and repainting can be taken from the bond.
To ensure tenants are well aware of their responsibilities in this regard, we also attach an annexure to our tenancy agreement that is separately signed. We discuss this with the tenant and remind the tenant they must obtain written approval from the owner for anything they may wish to do to the property.
Now these ‘renovations’ have been bought to your attention, I would suggest you give notice to your tenant, in writing, advising them these ‘things’ were conducted by them without consent and they have 14 days to rectify them to the way they were and you will be back to inspect. If your tenant has not rectified this, the next step would be to issue them with a termination notice for ‘breach of agreement’.
On another note, I would also recommend inspecting your property more than twice a year (especially if there’s a new tenant). Get out there more regularly, say every three to four months, and then slowly cut down the inspections if they are keeping the property to a very high standard.
I do remember doing an inspection once when the tenants took it upon themselves to paint a bedroom hot pink and then their kid decided to get into the paint tin and copy Daddy. I saw tiny hot pink footprints all around the house on the newly polished floorboards! All ended well as the tenants were able to make good the property after I spoke to them at that inspection.
NEW MIGRANTS AS TENANTS
Question: I’ve had a few applications from new migrants to lease my property. What are your views about renting to this demographic? Most of them have no established credit or job history. Are these good enough reasons not to consider them? What would you do to vet them? Would you rent your property to them?
Answer: All applications must be considered. You cannot appear biased towards a potential applicant on the grounds of their religion, culture or nationality. If the applicant does not have references or sufficient financial or guarantor details to support their application, it will not be finalised.
Bear in mind, though, that applicants who have recently arrived in Australia may have other income streams to support their application, such as social security benefits or grants. However, at the end of the day, it is at the owner’s discretion who they let their properties to.
Bear in mind, too, that tenancy applications are very sternly screened (well, they should be), and part of this screening process should also be to check on the visa status of the applicant. The applicant could have a working visa that is not due to expire until 2015. Surely they wouldn’t have been granted this if they were unable to support themselves for such a time. You could also look at whether there is a lot of this nationality in the area/suburb. Chances are there is, which I believe raises the bar to have them as long-term tenants during their visit and or in starting their new life; no doubt they have come to this area because they have family/friends.
Not everyone you meet has rented before, and they all need to start somewhere. If these prospective tenants’ screening process came through all clear, along with having a substantial income that would justify them being able to sustain the rental payments, I would rent to them.
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