How should landlords deal with tenants in all phases of the rental relationship?

Date: Aug 08, 2013
Document Type: Newsletter

Australian property prices may have dropped over the past few years, however, the rental market is still robust in major metropolitan areas such as Melbourne and Sydney. Since it’s a landlord’s market out there, it helps that a landlord is diligent when it comes to their property, because you don’t want your investment to turn sour. So what can landlords do to minimise headaches? Here are some general tips that may assist in maintaining the rental property as a valuable asset. 

Conduct a check on the potential tenant

Just like an employer conducting a reference check on a potential employee, landlords should make sure their property is in safe hands by conducting a search through the National Tenancy Database regarding potential tenants. The Database will have the following general information:

  • whether a real estate agent has recommended the tenant;
  • whether the tenant has abandoned any  previous property without notice, or left the property owing money for costs associated with damage or cleaning;
  • whether the tenant has ever left a property with rent owing;
  • any unpaid court orders against the tenant.
Perform a condition report

Upon the commencement of the lease, a property condition report should be undertaken outlining the state of the property before the tenant moves in. Once the agreement comes to an end, the report will be used to make sure that the property has been left in the same condition as before the commencement of the lease, taking into account normal wear and tear.

Conduct routine inspections

Landlords may conduct routine inspections of the rental property to ensure that the property is being properly maintained and to fix any maintenance issues that may arise. However, be aware that there are statutory requirements that landlords need to follow regarding the amount of notice to be provided to a tenant in order to conduct an inspection, and how many inspections can be conducted over a 12 month period. Tenants have a number of rights available as well. 

 Know the difference between urgent and a non-urgent repairs

If a repair is considered to be urgent, then a landlord will need to conduct the repairs within a day or two in order to conform to their legal obligations.

Urgent repairs can include: a disruption to a water service (such as no hot water); a blocked or broken toilet;, any roof leaks considered to be serious;, gas leaks; a dangerous electrical fault; flooding; any failure of gas, water or electrical supplies; and damages that may make a property unsafe, are just some of the types of repairs that may be considered as urgent.

Alternatively, non-urgent repairs relate to any maintenance issues that aren’t as serious and can be completed within a reasonable period of time. 

Always adhere to the law if your tenant stops paying rent

It may be frustrating for a landlord when a tenant stops paying rent, and you may want to evict the person from your property as soon as it happens, but remember, tenants also have rights and there are a number of requirements that need to be followed before a tenancy agreement can be terminated.

In some jurisdictions, if a tenant has failed to pay rent for 14 days, then notice can be provided to the tenant outlining the fact that rent there is owing. Landlords and tenants can agree upon some sort of payment plan, or set a time period of when rent must be paid. If all of the aforementioned actions have failed, landlords can then apply to a state tenancy tribunal to have the agreement terminated and compensation may also be provided.

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