Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Landlord

Being a landlord comes with different rights and responsibilities, and knowing these can make a world of difference when push comes to shove. Importantly, these may differ from state to state.

The main thing to remember when considering your rights and responsibilities is that while the property is a money maker for you, it is also someone’s home. And it needs to be treated as such.

Your rights

There are a number of rights that come with being a landlord, and you can choose to  either deal with these yourself or work with a property manager to manage the process for you.

  • Knowing your tenant – Remember, property is generally one of your most valuable possessions. When you rent it out, you’re essentially putting it in the care of strangers, hoping that they will not cause any damage. So you have the right to know who the tenant is. You can request references and check tenancy databases for previous issues that the potential tenant may have been involved in, such as unpaid rent or property damage.
  • Insurance – There are plenty of things that can go wrong in property management, even if you choose wonderful tenants. Accidents happen, and so do natural disasters, both of which are out of your control. Insurance will protect you from sudden financial loss. Speak to an insurance broker to see what kind of insurance you’ll need and what will protect not only your property but its contents.
  • Increasing rent – You’ll have to provide notice of the changes, but you can increase the rent as you wish. Although you will have to wait for the fixed lease term to finish before doing so.
  • Evict a tenant – There are certain situations where you have the right to evict a tenant. The most common of which is not paying rent.

Your responsibilities

The most important responsibility is keeping your tenants safe. Australian law dictates that landlords must guarantee a property and its contents, especially regarding injury to the tenants, neighbours, or public as a result of the tenancy.

Generally speaking, there are several main responsibilities for landlords. These include:

  • Maintaining the structure of the property,
  • Ensuring that all installations are working, e.g. electricity, gas, smoke detectors, etc.,
  • Ensuring all appliances are installed correctly and safe to operate. This only applies to landlord-owned appliances, generally the oven, cooktop and rangehood, dishwasher, and dryer,
  • Treat any issues that may pose a health risk to tenants, such as mould or dampness.

There are also stipulations according to state.

Australian Capital Territory

  • The tenant must be provided with a copy of the Office of Fair Trading booklet, The Renting Book. This must be handed over before the commencement of the tenancy agreement.
  • A receipt must be issued when the tenant pays the bond. The money must also be lodged with the Office of Regulatory Services. This must be done within two weeks.
  • Tenants must be issued with two copies of the Conditions of Premises Report. This must be provided within one day of the tenant moving in and the tenant must complete and return the form within two weeks.

New South Wales

  • A copy of the New Tenant Checklist must be provided to tenants before the rental agreement is signed,
  • Landlords must also be up to date with what qualifies as discrimination, fair trading laws, and good practices.

Northern Territory

  • A Guide to Renting in the Northern Territory must be given to new tenants.
  • The landlord must organise the tenancy agreement and provide the tenant with a copy,
  • A condition agreement must be completed in front of the tenant and a copy of the report must be supplied to the tenant.
  • Allow the tenant to review and sign the tenancy report. The landlord must then sign this and a copy must be given to the tenant within seven days.

Queensland

  • Ensure that the premises are in a good state of repair and fit to live in.
  • The landlord must ensure a reasonable standard of security and keys to each lock must be provided to the tenant.
  • Nobody should be on the property when the tenants take the tenancy and move in.
  • It is also the landlord’s responsibility not to interfere with the tenant’s peace or use of the property. In a situation where the landlord needs to enter the property, written notice must be given to the tenant in advance.

South Australia

  • Landlords must hand over the property in a clean and reasonable standard.
  • Proper receipts must be provided and all transaction records must be maintained.
  • Ensuring the property’s security by maintaining locks.
  • Landlords must also lodge the bond with the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs.

Tasmania

  • The booklet, Renting in Tasmania must be provided to tenants before they sign the tenancy agreement or move into a property.
  • A tenancy agreement should be completed in writing, along with a condition report, security deposit, and rent in advance.
  • Between 14 and 28 days notice must be given to tenants to end a tenancy.

Victoria

    • There are strict guidelines relating to when a landlord is allowed to enter their rented property. The date and time must be agreed with the tenant and it must be made within seven days prior to entering.
    • There are exceptions to this rule. Twenty-four hours notice is needed in cases such as:
  •    Carrying out duties listed in the tenancy agreement of the Tenancy Act
  •    Valuing the property
  •    Showing the property to potential purchasers
  •    Showing the property to potential tenants (it cannot be more than 14 days before the current lease is terminated)
  •    Confirming a reasonable belief that the tenant is not maintaining his or her duties as outlined in the agreement
  •    General inspections in any sic month period.

Importantly, when it comes to ending a tenancy, there are time restrictions and notice is due in advance. The notice period differs from state to state. If there is a legitimate reason to evict a tenant, landlords must issue a written notice to vacate, adhere to the relevant timeframes according to their state or territory and refer to governing bodies if there are any problems.