While horror stories of bad tenants may seem to be a common occurrence, life for everybody involved in a tenancy agreement would be made a lot easier if landlords also had a better understanding of their responsibilities.
When taking possession of a rental property, tenants are likely given a comprehensive indication of their responsibilities in relation to ensuring rent is paid on time and the property is cared for, but similar responsibilities, which are often misunderstood, also extend to those renting out the property.
“A lot of the time landlords don’t really have a great understanding of their legal requirements and the processes involved,” Noeline Pitt, director and licensee of Your Future Property Management said.
“There are a lot of protocols that have to be followed and we find that if we can educate landlords from the beginning then that means there are a lot less headaches and disagreements down the track,” Pitt said.
Pitt said common areas of misunderstanding include issues such as water payments and smoke alarms.
“When we pass a water bill onto landlords we’re often asked why the tenant isn’t paying things like the sewerage charge. What landlords need to understand in situation where tenants are paying a water bill, they are invoiced for water consumption and the landlord pays the overt charges.
“There’s often a lot of confusion about smoke alarm testing as well. In Queensland the legislation states you have to have a compliant certificate for your smoke alarms and that they have to be tested every 12 months or at the start of a new tenancy.
“That’s the bit that catches a lot of people. They’ll say to us ‘well it was tested less than a year ago, I don’t want to pay for another test,’ but then we have to point out that you’re getting a new tenant and it has to be done again.”
Evictions and access to the property are other common areas Pitt said landlords are often unaware of the right way to approach things.
“When it gets to the point that a tenant needs to be evicted you get landlords who want to just go around to the property and remove them, but they have to understand there’s a right way to do things.
“It often seems that notice periods and tribunal hearings all favour the tenant, but landlords have to realise that’s just how it is and unfortunately you have to do it that way.
“Some landlords think it’s their property so they can do what they want, but they have to realise there’s a right way to go about getting access to property and that sort of thing and if you do it the wrong way then you can get in trouble.”
While some landlords may be adequately across those issues, Pitt believes the fact that misunderstandings are so common more than justifies the need for a professional property manager.
“Some people are able to self-manage on their own, but really I think you’re just leaving yourself open for trouble.
“The legislation is complicated and a lot pf people just don’t understand it. For property managers understanding it is their job, and if you’ve got a good manager who can educate the landlord on their responsibilities, then that’s the best way to go.”
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