In a time like this when getting into the property market is such a big hurdle for many people, it’s easy to think that once you’ve bought a property, the work is over. And property investors can get some great benefits – rental income from tenants and the security of asset ownership to name a couple. But when they become landlords, those benefits come with risks and responsibilities. It’s crucial that homeowners are aware of landlord rights and responsibilities to avoid serious legal and financial consequences and ensure their property is protected from unnecessary harm.
What are landlord rights and responsibilities?
Landlord rights and responsibilities are the legally enforceable regulations and rules that apply to landlords. They set out every landlord’s obligations to their tenants while renting out their investment property.
The purpose of landlord responsibilities is to keep tenants safe and prevent injury or illness resulting from living in the home. The purpose of landlord rights is to protect the property owner’s investment and prevent property damage.
While some of them apply throughout Australia, landlord rights and responsibilities are enforced at a state level and some rights and rules differ between states and territories.
So, why should landlords familiarise themselves with their responsibilities?
Why landlord responsibilities are important
Aside from the fact that complying with landlord responsibilities is crucial to safeguard your rental income, failing to meet your obligations as a landlord can result in serious financial and legal consequences.
Keeping up with landlord responsibilities is important because:
- Landlord responsibilities explain your legal obligations to your tenants. To legally acquire rental income, you must fulfil your obligations to your tenants. If you don’t, they could file a complaint against you or vacate the property, which would mean your rental income takes a serious hit.
- They are legally enforceable at state level. Breaching landlord rights or responsibilities can lead to costly and time consuming legal consequences.
- They set out the requirements for rental property compliance. Property compliance requirements outline safety standards for a residential rental property to ensure the place is safe to live in. Being proactive with compliance helps landlords avoid unwanted expenses and keeps their asset in good condition.
Landlord responsibilities in Australia
The minimum responsibilities that landlords in Australia must fulfil include:
- Ensuring the property’s structure and exterior are compliant and well-maintained
- Ensuring utilities are connected and working (gas, electricity, water)
- Ensuring appliances are safely installed and well-maintained
- Addressing any health hazards and risks posed by the property in a timely manner (for example, mould or pest infestations)
- Giving adequate notice of inspections to tenants
- Following rules relating to how and when you can increase rent
- Fulfilling all your obligations set out in the specific tenancy agreement
Each state has its own governing body which oversees and enforces landlord rights and responsibilities. In New South Wales, that body is Fair Trading. In Queensland, it’s the Residential Tenancies Authority. In Victoria, it’s Consumer Protection.
Landlord rights – NSW
Some of the rights landlords in NSW have include:
- To end a tenancy or evict tenants. Landlords can end a tenancy as long as they provide written notice in accordance with the minimum notice period.
- To charge rent in arrears. If a tenant is late in rent payments, they are in breach of the tenancy agreement and the landlord gets to decide on a course of action. That may be to change the payment method, to send reminders, or to end the tenancy.
- To charge up to four weeks’ bond. Landlords can decide how much bond to take, and it can be up to four weeks’ of the rental amount.
Find out more about NSW landlord rights on the Fair Trading website.
If you’re in the process of buying a new investment property, we’ll make sure it’s in good condition to deliver great returns. Book a Pre-purchase Building and Pest inspection with us today.