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.
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.
All rent increases within a fixed lease must be recorded at the start of the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Does everything 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.
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.