Landlord rights and obligations explained

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A landlord may have to be a jack of all trades—and master of all. You are responsible for many aspects of property maintenance and even management. You have to ensure everything is smooth sailing and your tenants are happy campers. You must know the rights and obligations your role as a landlord entails.

Some of these rights include requiring a bond, increasing rent, or ending a tenancy. However, you cannot do all of these just because you feel like it. There are rules and regulations established that you need to follow.

Registering the bond

As a landlord, you generally take a bond from your tenants as a security deposit. Should the tenant fail to keep the area well-maintained or cause damage to the property, or they don’t pay rent, you can claim some or their entire bond at the end of tenancy to compensate for this.

Make sure to forward the bond to your state’s residential tenancies bond authority that will hold the bond for the tenant and landlord during the tenancy. This is something your property manager can do on your behalf. The bond is usually equivalent to one month’s rent, but it can be more than that for some expensive properties.

You cannot claim the bond at the end of tenancy just because your property is not in the exact same condition as it was during the start of tenancy.

For example, the appliances you have provided to your tenants may not be sparkling new anymore – but unless they have been damaged, you can’t demand that they are replaced. They still work, and even though you may want them to look brand new for your next tenants, you cannot claim for the bond because the appliances are not damaged.

In general, you can only make a claim on the bond for:

  • Damage caused by the tenant or the tenant’s visitors
  • Cleaning expenses
  • The tenant abandoning the premises
  • The tenant leaving the landlord to pay bills the tenant should have paid
  •  Loss of the landlord’s goods
  • Unpaid rent

To find out more about rental bonds in your state or territory, visit the following websites:

Rent and increase

Rent can be paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. However, if rent is paid weekly, the landlord can’t ask for an increase more than 14 days when the tenancy starts.

You cannot increase rent whenever you want to. If you have a standard lease, you need to wait until the end of the fixed term to up the rent, unless your agreement states otherwise.

In general, you can’t increase the rent more than once every six months, and you must give your tenant at least 60 days’ notice of any proposed rent increase.

More information about rent increases can be found using these resources:

Ending a tenancy and discrimination

Ending a tenancy varies from state to state. Even if an agreement has a fixed date, you still need to give your tenant a notice period to end the tenancy.

If you want to end the tenancy, you should check:

  • The reasons allowed in your state for giving notice to end a tenancy.
  • Whether the notice needs to be given on an official notice or form.
  • How much notice you need to give before the end of the agreement.

You also have the right to choose the tenant that may fit your property. However, equal opportunity legislation in each state makes it unlawful to discriminate against or harass people. In general, you cannot select your tenant based on age, race, religion, sex, etc.

To know more about the anti-discrimination law in Australia, you may visit the Australian Government’s website.

You may also visit the following websites for more information about ending a tenancy in your state or territory:

Obligations

As a landlord, you must to guarantee the safety of rented property and its content. Some of your responsibilities may include:

  • Maintain the structure and exterior of the house
  • Ensure all installations are working like gas, heating, and electricity
  • Maintain installation and appliance, if appliances are landlord-owned
  • Treat potentially health-threatening issues
  • Anything else specified in the tenancy agreement

Each state or territory in the country also has various requirements that landlords must follow:

Australian Capital Territory

In ACT, the landlord is required to provide tenants with a copy of the Office of Fair Trading booklet “The Renting Book”. The landlord is also required to issue a receipt when a tenant pays for the bond monies. The money is then lodged with the Office of Regulatory Services within two weeks. The landlord is also responsible for issuing tenants with two copies of the “Conditions of Premises Report” within one day of moving in. The tenants will have to return the form within two weeks, including their agreement or disagreement with the report.

To know more about renting in the ACT, you may refer to The Renting Book.

New South Wales

In NSW, landlords are required to provide tenants with “New Tenant checklist”. Landlords must be up-to-date with qualified direct and indirect discrimination, fair trading laws, and good practices. A 90-day notice is required if a new lease isn’t signed after the fixed-term agreement expires.

For more information about renting in NSW, visit the NSW Fair Trading website.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, a landlord is required to give new tenants “A Guide to Renting in The Northern Territory”. The landlord is also responsible for preparing the tenancy agreement provided to the tenant. A condition agreement should also be prepared and given. Once reviewed and signed by the tenant, the landlord must also sign it and provide a copy to the tenant within seven days.

For more details about your role as a landlord in NT, contact the NT Consumer Affairs.

Queensland

In QLD, a landlord must ensure that the property is fit for living and in a good state of repair. The property’s security must also be of a reasonable standard. When the tenancy is assumed, no other person or their property should be in the premise. A landlord must also ensure that the tenant’s peace and property usage are not interrupted.

To know more about landlord obligations in QLD, visit the Queensland Government website.

South Australia

In SA, a landlord must provide and maintain a clean property for tenants. The landlord must also give proper receipts and maintain records of all transactions related to tenancy, council rates, and taxes. The landlord must maintain locks, ensuring the property’s security. The bond with the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs must also be lodged.

More information about starting a tenancy in SA can be found in the South Australian government’s website.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, a landlord is obliged to provide tenants with a copy of “Renting in Tasmania” before moving in. The landlord must complete, in writing, a tenancy agreement along with a condition report, security deposit, and rent advance. To end the tenancy, a landlord must give tenants 14 and 28 days’ notice.

The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania (TUTAS) laid out everything you may need to know about renting in Tasmania.

Victoria

In Victoria, there is a strict guideline when a landlord can enter their rented property. Date and time should be agreed by both landlord and tenant, made within seven days prior to entering.

The landlord can give the tenant 24 hours’ notice of intent to enter the property to carry out duties in the tenancy agreement, appraise the property, show prospective buyers or tenants the property, confirm the reasonable belief that a tenant violated the rental agreement, and inspect the property in any six-month period.

To know more about renting in Victoria, visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Western Australia

In WA, a landlord must provide tenants with a copy of “Schedule 2- Information For Tenants” and a rental agreement. The landlord must also review the guide carefully. The form gives a working knowledge of a landlord’s responsibilities regarding the use of premises, discrimination, urgent repairs, fixtures, payment, and rent increases. It also outlines the owner’s right of entry and rates and taxes.

Here is a fact sheet outlining your responsibility as a landlord, from the Western Australian Government.

Being a landlord is not a walk in the park, it takes time and effort to keep your property up and running. These rules and regulations are in place to guide you and help managing your rental a bit easier. Consider talking to a professional to discuss any concern about managing or maintain a property. An expert such as a property manager may help you make better decisions for your property investment.

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