landlord responsibilities

What are your mandatory rights as a landlord?

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 11th, 2016

It’s not only about collecting the monthly rent. Being a landlord comes with a series of responsibilities that you should know about. 

Whether or not you use a property manager, there are various rights and responsibilities that you need to be mindful of when holding an investment property. From lodging the bond to organising security to knowing how you can increase your rent, there are procedures and rules that must be respected.

In this guide, we bring you up the speed with your rights and responsibilities so you can ensure that you do the right thing by your tenant.

What are the different types of tenancy agreements?

A fixed term agreement is where the tenancy is fixed for a given period of time, which is normally 6 -12 months. This type of agreement must specify an end date.

On the other hand, a period agreement is set for an indefinite period of time. Generally, you move to a periodic agreement once a fixed tenancy agreement ends.

Government websites

To find out more about your rights and responsibilities in your respective state or territory, visit your relevant government website below.

Most government departments, such as NSW Fair Trading, outline the rights and responsibilities of landlords. This includes responsibilities when starting a tenancy, during a tenancy and ending a tenancy as discussed below.

Starting a tenancy

  • Provide tenant with agreement. You must provide a copy of the tenancy agreement to the tenant at the time that they sign it. If the agreement is set out for a fixed period of more than three years, you’ll need to register it with your government department, such as the Land and Property Management Authority in NSW.
  • Complete condition report. The condition report identifies the general condition of the property including the fittings and fixtures. It’s a good idea to take photos or videos to supplement the condition report. The tenant must complete their part of the condition report and return it to you within seven days of receiving it.
  • Collecting the bond. As a landlord, you’re responsible for collecting the bond. This acts as security in the event that the tenant breaches the tenancy agreement. Generally, you cannot charge more than four weeks of rental bond.
  • Lodging the bond. You must lodge the bond with your state tenancy authority.
  • Collecting rent in advance. At the start of the tenancy, the tenant can be required to pay the first two weeks of rent in advance. Keep in mind that this is not another form of bond. Instead, the tenant is paying for the rent two weeks in advance.
  • Safety and security. Most state governments have rules surrounding smoke alarms, swimming pools and spas, and window and balcony safety. Visit your state government website to learn more about your responsibilities in upholding safety and security standards in your property.
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During a tenancy

  • Give notice prior to entry. Your tenant is entitled to some peace and quiet which means that you must give notice before you visit the property. The length of notice that you must give before entering the property depends on the reason for visiting the property. Generally, to inspect the premises you must give at least seven days written notice and to conduct ordinary repairs you must provide at least two days written notice. To carry out more urgent repairs, you may not be required to give notice.
  • Increasing the rent. Whether property values have risen in the suburb or you’ve renovated a part of the property, there may come a time where you increase the rent. If you do so, there are certain rules you must consider. For instance, in NSW, you must give the tenant at least 60 days notice in writing before the date the increase becomes payable.
  • Dealing with non-payment of rent. If your tenant has fallen behind on their rent, you can provide them with a termination notice giving them 14 days to vacate the property. Typically, you should include a statement that informs the tenant that they do not have to leave the premises if they pay the outstanding rate by a given date. You may want to negotiate a repayment plan if possible.
  • Handling alteration requests. A long-term tenant may ask to upgrade or change the premises. The tenant must seek your written consent before they conduct any renovation or upgrades on the property.
  • Managing sub-letting requests. If a tenant wants to sublet part of the property, they must ask for your written consent. If the tenant wants to sublet or transfer the whole premises to someone, approval is at your discretion.
  • Dealing with issues. NSW Fair Trading provides a free complaint service for tenants, residents, landlords and property managers with tenancy-related matters or disputes. Fair Trading can assist with tenancy matters related to repairs and maintenance, alterations to the property, non-compliance with tenancy agreement, and much more.
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Ending a tenancy

If you want to end a tenancy agreement, you must follow certain procedures that are stipulated by your state government.

If you would like the tenant to leave the premises, you must put forward a written termination notice. It must specify the date that the residential tenancy agreement is terminated and the date in which you require the tenant to vacate. Typically, you need to provide at least 30 days notice if the agreement is due to expire or 14 days if the tenant has breached the agreement.

In some cases, it may be necessary to make a bond claim. Generally, you can make a claim to cover:

  • Unpaid rent.
  • The cost of repairing damage.
  • Unpaid water usage costs.
  • Cleaning costs.

Contact your state government department to find out how you can claim the bond.

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Belinda Punshon

Belinda is a journalist here at finder.com.au. Specialising in the home loans and property sections, she is passionate about helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.

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