Tenancy Regulations—Paperwork

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were introduced in July 2013. Important changes relate to the paperwork that must be used (prescribed documentation) bonds and rent increases.

Lease Agreements

You must use lease agreements laid out in a prescribed format as determined by consumer protection outlining your tenants’ rights and obligations and your obligation as a Lessor. You must ensure any special conditions do not ‘contract out’ conditions or parts of conditions of the Residential Tenancies Act.

If you choose to have a verbal agreement with your tenant you must still provide prescribed information.

Rent Increases

All rent increases must be recorded at the start of a fixed lease agreement spelling out the amount or method of calculation and the day the increase will commence. Rent increases must be 6 months apart and the tenant must be given the required notice period of not less than 60 days.

Bond

All bond monies must be lodged with the Bond Administrator using prescribed forms—no exceptions. You cannot keep bond money anywhere other than with the Government Bond Administrator. Heavy penalties apply for those who don’t comply.

Property Condition Reports (PCR)

Tenancy laws require that a PCR must be prepared at the beginning and end of a tenancy, in a prescribed format, listing the condition of the property.

Other prescribed forms

To inspect your property whilst tenanted or to serve any kind of notice to the tenant you must use prescribed forms which you will find on the DMIRS website.

Regulations—safety

Everyone involved in leasing or renting a property—owners who rent out their property privately ; real estate agents and their property managers and even Tenants. As an Owner you are responsible for ensuring your property complies with the legislation.

A minimum of two Residual Current Devices (RCDs) or safety switches must be installed in your meter box as part of the electrical installation. One is to protect the power circuit the other to protect the lighting circuit. Depending on the size , layout or features of your house you may need more than 2—your electrician will advise you.

You may be surprised to learn that your Tenant may not know what these RCDs are for or how they work. It is important that you do know and demonstrate this to your tenant if you plan to manage the property yourself.

Note: Many electricians are offering an annual check of your meter box, Including RCD and smoke alarm testing for a reasonable fee.

These have been around for many years now but often they are in the wrong place—for example in the kitchen where they are constantly set off by burning toast or steam – and are non compliant with the new regulations. Again your electrician will advise how many your property needs and where they should be installed.

Once installed they should be checked at regular intervals, at least annually, and if the you hear intermittent ‘chirping’ it is time to replace the back-up battery. Your Tenant should be advised to regularly check the smoke alarms and RCDs

Power point fasciae—replace if cracked. It’s a common issue in old houses, cracking is often fine and may be difficult to see.

Cooktops—if you upgrade an old cooktop or oven a separate isolation switch may be required.

No more cracked shower screens—doors and fixed panels must be safety glass. Replace cracked windows as well and dangerous ugly cracked soap dishes, with sharp edges, in shower recesses.

Long cords that open, close, raise or lower blinds must now be secured at the side of the window or door to prevent young children becoming entangled in them and strangling themselves

Must be fenced with self closing gates. This is not new legislation, it has been in place for many years. Check for compliance with your local Council and check that the gate does actually close without you having to push it those last few centimetres.

Get rid of it, Tenants don’t want your junk around. Old pieces of fencing, bricks, doors, panels or offcuts of wood and so on dumped behind the shed, or left inside it, are unsightly and a hazard. If this is you make sure you have plenty of public liability insurance.

Indoors—nor do tenants want to discover cans of paint, rolls of carpet, old lamp shades and general brick-a-brac, that you don’t want at your place, in their laundry cupboard. This is their home now, make it possible for them to feel that it is.

Preparing Your Property

Please note that we are happy to arrange most of the below items for you if you wish.

  • Keys: we require at least 2 copies of keys, one for the office and one for the tenant, we can arrange for keys to be cut if required
  • Power gas and telephones notify your suppliers that you wish to close your accounts you must personally do this.
  • Forwarding address: Please provide a forwarding address and contact details to our office if this property was your home.
  • Water: where applicable, (some units are not billed for water) a final meter reading will be arranged by your property manager and carried out by the Water Corporation. This will be at your expense and will include any additional charges for water consumption.
  • Please have your mail redirected. This can be done on-line at www.auspost.com.au. Water rates, council rates, insurance, strata levies and other accounts relating to your property can be redirected to our office and paid from your rental funds. Please let us know if you would like this to be arranged if not already done.

Compliance with regulations:

  • Smoke Alarms must be hard wired, fitted near bedrooms and be less than 10 years old. Where they cannot be hard wired an alarm with a 10 year battery life must be fitted.
  • RCD’s every property must have RCDs (Residual Current Devices) at least one for power outlets and one for lighting.
  • Blind Cords must be secured a minimum of 1.6 meters above the ground by cleats or similar and have warnings regarding strangulation hazards.
  • External Doors must be fitted with a deadlock that complies with the regulations or a lockable security screen door that complies with the relevant Australian standard.
  • Windows must not be able to be opened from outside, a keyed lock is not required.
  • Front Door Light must be fitted near the front door with an internal switch close to the door.
  • Swimming pool fencing must meet current rules and regulations

Presentation

  • Carpets and any furniture to be professionally cleaned
  • Pets: If pets have been kept at the property fumigate the property for parasites, tenants are also expected to do so when vacating.
  • Hard floors: wash or vacuum. If tiles, ensure grout is clean. If Timber floors have been damaged, re-sanding may be arranged at the tenant/s expense.
  • Walls: to be clean and free of blu-tack, stickers,
  • Lights: all globes should be working, all glass and shades intact and clean.
  • Wet areas: bathrooms, toilets, laundry must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Shower screens/curtains must be cleaned and any mould on ceilings or walls washed off. Exhaust covers should be removed and cleaned.
  • Windows, window ledges and tracks, blinds, flyscreens and sliding door tracks and curtains should be thoroughly cleaned, glass must be cleaned inside and outside.
  • Stove tops, exhausts, ovens and barbeques (if provided) should be clean and free from grease and burnt on food particles. Do not use abrasive cleaners on stainless steel cook tops, there are a variety of suitable cleaning products available in supermarkets.
  • Dishwasher: where provided, please leave clean and empty. Wash out the detergent compartments and leave the door slightly open to allow the machine to dry out.
  • Cupboards and drawers should be emptied and cleaned inside and out. Handles must be secure
  • Driveways/outdoor sheds/garages: should be emptied, swept clean and stains removed.
  • Gardens: should be neat with grass cut, reticulation fittings intact and working and garden beds, paving bricks and fence lines should be weeded.
  • Gutters: (Where applicable) cleaned of leaves and debris
  • Rubbish: should be removed and bins left in a clean condition.

Cleaners – cleaners charges vary a lot, there is usually a minimum 3 hour charge. If you intend to engage one you should obtain quotes and check the integrity of the company carefully.

Whether you’re renting out your home or listing for sale it should be presented in the best possible light and to do so we recommended that you use a professional photographer.

Below is a guide to preparing your property for photography, if you are renting out a property, particularly if it is unfurnished, some of the listed points will not apply.

Inside

  • Declutter as much as possible. Put away toys, clothing, dishes, towels, shoes etc.
  • Do a general clean and tidy-up.
  • Make all the beds, fluff all the pillows, and check the bed skirts.
  • Clean the kitchen sink and put away all the dishes.
  • Clear all kitchen bench tops.
  • Clear all bathroom counter tops and put away all personal items.
  • Remove all shampoos, conditioners, body-washes, etc. from the shower.
  • Straighten towels on towel racks.
  • Put away bath mats.
  • Hide all rubbish bins.
  • Remove all magnets and decorations from the fridge.
  • If there are pets, hide all food/water bowls, pet beds, and pet toys.
  • Put all toilet seats and lids down.
  • Replace light bulbs that are not working.
  • Consider putting out vases of fresh flowers.
  • Tidy bookshelves.
  • Straighten scatter cushions.
  • Tidy electrical cords.
  • Check for items under beds and furniture that may show in photos.
  • Put away tv remotes.

Outside

  • Have the lawn trimmed, leaves raked, bushes and trees pruned, weeds removed.
  • Put away all rubbish bins, hoses, garden tools, toys, bikes etc.
  • Remove pool covers and ensure the pool is clean.
  • Pack away pool equipment including the pool vacuum.
  • Replace light bulbs that are not working.
  • Clean up after any animal.
  • Remove visible junk mail from the letter box.

Before the Photographer Arrives

  • Turn on all interior lights.
  • Open all blinds and curtains.
  • Clear all cars and vehicles from the driveway and the street in front of the home.
  • Close garage doors.

Does everything work?

  • Do the taps drip?
  • Does the toilet flush?
  • Does the shower arm stay in place?
  • Are door handles loose?
  • Do all power points work?
  • Are light switches working?
  • Are all globes working?
  • Are there keys for all locks?
  • Do the keys work effectively?
  • Do remotes have new batteries?
  • Are flyscreens intact?
  • Do sliding doors slide?
  • Is the reticulation working?
  • Are sprinklers intact?
  • Do appliances work?

Tenants expect to move into a clean, comfortable house. Most want a place to call home where they can settle down for the time they will spend there. The condition of the property at the outset and the owners willingness to keep the property well maintained are the keys to keeping a good Tenant and achieving top rent .

Heating and cooling—extreme summer heat with no air-conditioning is no fun and barely acceptable these days. Top Tenants expect air-conditioning for cooling if not heating.

Old houses often have no insulation and are very cold in winter. Insulating the roof space will make a huge difference and may prevent mould occurring. if providing reverse cycle air-conditioning is out of the question, install a gas bayonet when possible.

Cleanliness—start with an immaculately clean house and insist it is returned in the same condition when the Tenant leaves. New houses are easier to clean and keep clean. Old houses need poking and prodding to give up their dirt but it makes a world of difference when they do.

Regulations-security

Windows must lock with either a key lock or ‘snap’ locking device that does not require a key but prevents the window from being slid open from outside.

All external doors must either have a deadlock a patio bolt lock or a key lockable security screen door that complies with AS 5039-2008.

An electric light at, or near, the main entry that is capable of illuminating the area, must be fitted and operable from the inside.