Becoming a property owner is a great achievement, regardless of whether it’s your first property or one of many in your portfolio.
When it comes to renting your property out, it’s a bit more complicated than sitting back, collecting the rent and watching your investment grow. While that would be ideal, privately managing your property comes with significant responsibilities, many of which involve legal requirements.
If you're thinking of managing your own property, it’s vital to make sure you’re aware of what that entails.
What are the responsibilities of a landlord?
While requirements may change slightly depending on your location, the general responsibilities of landlords are considered as the following:
Repairs and maintenance:
As a landlord, the majority of repairs and maintenance are your responsibility, as well as paying for these services. During tenancy, you’re obligated to provide the maintenance and repairs the property requires, ensuring the property is kept in the same condition as it was upon move in. However, if your tenant has caused the damage, they’re likely to be liable for the expenditure involved.
Generally, landlords are also responsible for issues pertaining to gas, electricity and water supply - if it affects the tenants ability to cook, have heating or cooling or access to hot water, the landlord must address these issues. If the issue is regarding an individual appliance that is owned by the tenant, that is not the responsibility of the landlord.
Answering requests in a timely manner
When a tenant makes a maintenance or repairs request, you are obligated to take care of these repairs and provide responses to tenants in a timely manner.
Often, this can be at an inconvenient time to you - it’s not always regular working hours and repairs considered “emergencies” are expected to be carried out within 24-hours. Keep in mind, property management isn’t always a 9-5 job that you might be accustomed to.
Be aware of legal responsibilities
Understanding your rights and responsibilities under Australian law and the governing state and territory bodies of the Residential Tenancy Act is of high importance.
Nationwide, the common underlying legal requirement is that the landlord guarantees the safety of their rented properties, fixed appliances and maintenance. Not addressing these components properly can find you in legal trouble.
Ensuring property is in good condition upon move in
When a new tenant is moving in, a landlord must ensure the property is vacant and clean on move day. Living areas must be in good condition and any appliances should be maintained appropriately. While the condition is dependent on the age of the property and the cost of the rent
Respect the rights of the tenant
The tenant has the right to enjoy their property. This means landlords can’t just pop in whenever they want. This can be particularly difficult for some if they’re viewing their property more as their “home” rather than their investment.
Entry requirements vary per state and will stipulate how frequently landlords can visit, how much notice is required and when. Occasionally, you may enter the property on short notice, particularly in cases of emergency or repairs.
Comply with all health and safety laws
It’s the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the property’s health and safety features are compliant with the state in which the property is. This includes assuring the property is fitted with smoke alarms that meet Australian Standards.
Adhering to the correct rules and regulations regarding smoke alarms will mean you can continue to lease your investment property without the risk putting your tenants in harm's way and avoiding the risk of non-compliance penalties.
Plumbing is also required to be in safe and suitable condition.
Ensure reasonable security is provided
Reasonable security must be provided, including secure locks on windows and doors, ensuring the locks are in good condition and that keys are supplied for each lock. This ensures not only that your tenants feel safe in your property but also helps deter and protect your property against break ins.
Handling (some) utility bills
Utility bills can be a bit of a grey area. The simplest way to think about utility charges is whether or not there’s a choice involved in the service provider.
For instance, the likes of electricity, internet, water, gas, Foxtel, etc. come with choice and are therefore payable by the tenant.
Alternatively, the landlord is responsible for fixed fees such as council rates, water rates and strata levies.
Administering the bond
It’s highly recommended bonds be taken upfront as a protective measure for yourself and your property against any damage or loss inflicted during tenancy.
Generally, landlords can’t hold this bond themselves - it must be lodged with the state or territories appropriate residential tenancies bond authority.
Look after the tenants in general
When tenants move out, you may find yourself forking out for payments and other fees while the property sits vacant. It’s important to maintain tenants as long as possible to avoid vacancies.
Running thorough reference checks will ensure you can find suitable tenants - then, when you have attracted good tenants who treat your property as if it were their own, it’s important you look after them well in return so they’re happy in your property and their home.
While it might seem like a money saver to manage your property yourself, a professional property manager can help you reap the most reward from your investment. A property manager can actually maximise your returns while taking care of all the responsibilities, not only saving you time but a whole lot of stress, too.
Thinking of using a property manager to take over your landlord duties and maximise your returns? Contact the team at Combynd on (07) 5536 9594 or contact us online.