Renting your home can be a satisfying and lucrative experience, but it’s important to know all of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. The Residential Tenancies Act is a document that describes all of these. In most cases, the regulations will be roughly the same throughout Australia. However, there may be smaller details that can vary between states. This is why it’s important to learn about what the regulations and rights are in your specific region.
Many landlords already choose to hire a licensed real estate agent to manage property. They provide a number of useful property management services, including sourcing and managing tenants. This is another benefit of engaging a real estate agent, in order to know the specific landlord rights and obligations. You can search for a local real estate agent to help you with these property management tasks by registering now at LocalAgentFinder.
The following are many of the landlord rights and responsibilities that you can expect to take on as you start to rent out your property. By being aware of and fulfilling these landlord obligations, you can help minimise your chances of any tenancy disputes. This will help maximise your investment by creating a safe, enjoyable residence for your tenants. It’s also helpful to learn more about landlord insurance.
Creating a Tenancy Agreement
It’s your right as a landlord to choose the ideal tenant for your property. If you decide to manage your property with the assistance of a real estate agent, be sure to include a clause in your Management Agency Agreement that states you have the ultimate word in who lives in your home. Yet although you have the right to choose a suitable tenant, you must adhere to the Equal Opportunity Act at the same time. This prohibits discriminating against tenants based on reasons such as their sex, religion, race, or age.
Once you have found the right tenant, you have the responsibility of drafting a lease agreement. This must be modelled on the Residential Tenancy Agreement form, which is provided by your regional residential tenancy authority. You have the right to use this document as a base and then add additional clauses or conditions as needed. The tenant must be provided with a copy to examine carefully before they sign anything. They must also be informed about any entry fees and the bond amount before they enter into a lease agreement. After the tenant has looked over the terms and conditions, approved the lease, and signed the agreement, you then have 14 days to return a copy to them with your signature.
A security deposit or bond is also required. This is an amount of money that is held for the duration of the lease. Many landlords charge the equivalent of one month’s worth of rent, but you can charge more if the premises were once your home or if weekly rent is over $350. The money must be lodged within a certain timeframe depending on the state you reside in, and you must provide the tenant with a copy of a receipt or lodgement form.
Tenants are also entitled to a copy of the Renting Guide of your state, which informs them of all of their rights as tenants. If you fail to do this, you may be subject to a fine up to $500. When it’s time for the tenant to move in, they must be greeted with a vacant, clean, and suitable property to live in. Another landlord responsibility that you must adhere to is fitting your property with a smoke alarm in working order. You’ll need to complete three condition reports, two of which are delivered to the tenant. They will need to review and sign this form. This is a document to protect both the landlord and tenant, because it includes a description of the property’s conditions at the time of move-in.
Rent can be paid in many different ways, including a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly payment. If you decide to ask for weekly rent, however, you can’t demand any more than two weeks’ of rent before the tenant moves in.
Responsibilities during Tenancy
Although this may already seem like a lot of work, the real property management work doesn’t begin until after the tenant has moved in. You’ll need to take care of the following:
- Issue receipts for rent payments, unless these are directly deposited into a bank account or otherwise transferred electronically.
- Take care of all maintenance and repairs. Urgent repairs must be dealt with as soon as possible after a tenant has notified you of a problem. Non-urgent repairs should be taken care of within a reasonable time frame. You could be sued for liability if repairs are not dealt with and the tenant suffers any injury as a result.
- Handle all security issues; including fitting all external doors with locks and securing open windows.
- Pay for council taxes and rates, including some utilities depending on the circumstances.
- Allow the tenant to enjoy privacy and quiet enjoyment of the property without any interruption from you or others, within reason.
- Give some form of notice or permission if you must enter the premises, unless in case of emergency. In most cases you must provide seven days of notice, although when showing the property to buyers or valuers this may be reduced to 24 hours.
- Give adequate notice for any changes in rent, particularly rental increases. Rent may not be increased during fixed tenancy agreements, and not more than once in six months.
These responsibilities for renting your property will vary by state, so be sure to discuss your particular rights and responsibilities with a qualified agent in your area. One of the benefits of hiring a property manager is that they can take care of many of these tasks for you. You can find a local professional in your area by comparing agents at LocalAgentFinder, to help lessen the burden of becoming a landlord.
Concluding a Tenancy
Whether you’ve decided to sell a property or are simply experiencing a change in circumstances, you must give the tenant adequate written notice before they leave the premises. This can be given to them in person or you can send it by registered post, provided that you allow four extra days to your notice period for the tenant to receive it. In most cases, this notice should be 14 days before a tenancy agreement comes to an end, or 60 days’ notice if the tenant is on a periodic or month-to-month agreement.
As the tenancy comes to a close, you will need to deal with the bond payment. In order to release it back to the tenant, all signatories must sign a claim. You can potentially claim part of the bond to help cover expenses stemming from issues such as:
- Property damage
- Cleaning charges
- Property theft
- Unpaid utility bills
- Unpaid rent
Fair wear and tear is not included in this list, because this is a charge that must be absorbed by the landlord. If anyone is unwilling or unable to sign the claim, it’s possible to apply to a state tribunal to have the money released.
When to Use a Real Estate Agent
Because there are so many duties that come as part and parcel of being a landlord, many property owners choose to work with a real estate agent to manage their property. A qualified agent can help you understand your rights and carry out all of your legal responsibilities. Good agents are both licensed and knowledgeable of all current tenancy laws, so they can help you with all of the tasks that come along with the daily management of your property. This could include:
- Serving as an intermediary for tenancy disputes
- Organising property inspections
- Handling necessary repairs and maintenance
- Issuing receipts for rent
- Acting swiftly in cases of arrears
In exchange for these property management services, the landlord will usually pay a certain percentage of the rental returns as a fee. For the amount of money, time, and stress that a manager can save you, it’s a small amount to pay. It’s best to hire a real estate agent who is an REI member, because they will be up to date with all of the latest information.
It’s also a good idea to read through the full Residential Tenancy Act provided by your local authority. Should any disputes arise between you and your tenants, you can apply to the appropriate administration body to help have them resolved. This will vary by state:
- ACT – Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- NSW – Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal
- NT – Department of Justice
- QLD – Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- SA – Office of Consumer and Business Affairs
- TAS – Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading
- VIC – Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- WA – Department of Commerce
In most cases, the problems won’t get to this point, however. There are numerous advantages to hiring a property manager to help serve as the intermediary between you and your tenants, including keeping the peace and communicating effectively.
As you start the process of renting out your property, you’ll want to consult with a licensed real estate agent to learn more about what your options are. Register now at LocalAgentFinder to learn about these options and compare agents in your local area. This will help you understand your rights and find the right professional to represent your rental property.
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