The laws protecting both tenants and landlords are considered to be neutral. That is, they are designed not to favour either party but to protect both.
While there will be some variation in these laws from state to state, the overarching obligations for landlords are essentially the same.
All landlords can take a bond from their tenants as a security deposit. Depending on the state you’re in, a landlord is able to charge between four and six weeks bond.
Should any damage be done to the property or the tenants fail to pay rent, the landlord or agent can claim some or all of this bond at the end of the tenancy to pay for repairs and or missed rent.
Bond must be held at the Renting Branch of the Office of Fair Trading, the Office of Fair Trading or the Residential Tenancies Fund for the duration of the rental agreement. A landlord who delays submitting their tenant’s bond may incur financial penalties so it’s important to remain timely with this.
It’s also important to note that a landlord cannot claim back any bond due to what would be considered fair wear and tear of the property, however they can claim it for the following areas:
Damage caused by the tenant or the tenant’s visitors
The tenant abandoning the premises
The tenant leaving the landlord to pay bills they should have paid
Loss of the landlord’s goods
A landlord has the responsibility to keep the property maintained. This includes providing the property in a safe, clean and habitable state.
All vital services such as plumbing, electricity and heat must be in working order. This includes appliance maintenance and treating any potentially health impacting issues such as rising damp.
This is the case even if the tenant was notified of any areas of disrepair before moving in.
No unexpected visits
Remember that once you rent out a property, it becomes the home of your tenant. Tenants are protected in this area and, dependent upon the state, the frequency of your visits can also be limited.
A tenant must receive a minimum of seven days’ notice of the inspection before it is carried out. Property Managers will often take care of this for you but if you have any concerns you can ask for a report to be sent to you at the completion of the inspection. If you are managing the property yourself, visit your state’s residential tenancy authority website for details on the requirements for conducting inspections in your state.
If a landlord or agent enters rented premises without the agreement of the tenant or without serving the adequate written notice, they do not have a legal right of entry and have committed an offence. This is a definite area where you want to follow a very strict procedure.
Ending a tenancy
There are a number of ways to end a tenancy agreement and these can vary from state to state so be sure that you check the legislation specific to the state in which your property is located.
You need to be sure of the reasons allowed in your state for giving notice to end a tenancy, how the official notice is required to be delivered and presented, and the amount of notice that you need to give your tenants before you plan to end the tenancy.
In New South Wales for example a fixed term tenancy agreement cannot be terminated without grounds before the last day of the fixed term. If a landlord plans to end the agreement at the end of the fixed term, at least 30 days’ notice is required.
Increasing the rent
As a landlord, an investment property is all about the bottom line, so it makes sense to increase the rent periodically. Tenants are protected here too in that you are not able to increase the rent until the end of the fixed term lease agreement your tenant has signed. This only differs if the lease agreement terms allow for this.
You also are not able to increase the rent more than once every six months and you or your agent must provide the tenant with at least 60 days’ notice for any planned rent price increases. In NT this notice period is only 30 days.
Non-payment of rent
Dealing with the non-payment of rent early is essential. If a tenant is regularly late in paying rent, you may wish to discuss alternative payment options with them.
If a tenant falls more than 14 days behind with the rent you can serve them with a termination notice, that is, 14 days to vacate the property (the number of days can slightly vary in some states so ensure you check your local state’s legislation).
There are also requirements about what must be included in this notice so check your local state’s requirement or with your agent to be sure that everything is covered.
Alternatively, you may agree to a repayment plan with the tenant which would include additional payments on top of the normal rent repayment over a period of time. If a repayment plan cannot be agreed upon by both parties, your state’s rental tribunal may need to step in.
In some landlord insurance policies, loss of rent is covered so it may also be beneficial to you to check your policy if you are unable to recoup the missed rent from the tenant
Feb 5, https://homesales.com.au/news/latest/basic-landlord-laws/