There are many requirements or obligations a landlord needs to be on top of when renting their property to tenants. Here’s what you need to know.
When you buy an investment property to rent out, it’s easy to forget that you’re not just an investor, you’re a landlord as well. And being a landlord comes with certain legal obligations and day-today responsibilities you need to adhere to and be aware of.
Here are just some of the varied requirements a landlord needs to be on top of when renting their property to tenants.
Landlords need to make sure they comply with the law including:
- Anti‑discrimination Laws. For instance, you can’t discriminate against tenants based on gender, sexual orientation, marital status or age. But you are allowed to deny tenants based on their ability to pay rent or because they’re smokers.
- Fair Trading Laws. These govern such things as misleading and deceptive conduct and unfair trade practices. So, for instance, you can’t promise conditions you’re not providing or advertise things about the property that aren’t true.
- The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and its Regulations. These govern the relationship between you and your tenant and we’ve set out some of the most important conditions below.
New Tenant Checklists
In NSW, landlords and property managers need to provide tenants with a copy of the ‘New Tenant Checklist’ before they sign a residential tenancy agreement.
You must also supply tenants with a completed a condition report. A property manager can take care of this on your behalf and is experienced in dealing with these important documents.
Bonds are essential and must be lodged with the Rental Bond Board. As of 30 January 2017, agents, property managers and self-managing landlords are required to be registered with Rental Bonds Online (RBO) and offer this service to tenants as the first option for lodging their bond. An experienced property manager can take care of this on your behalf, removing the need for a landlord to worry about it altogether.
Remember, there are many other things you need to know about bonds. For instance, you can only keep part or all of the bond for certain infringements, and you can’t keep a bond for 'fair wear and tear'.
Increasing The Rent
Increasing the rent over time in line with market trends or property improvements is normal. However, there are some rules. Landlords cannot increase the rent during a fixed-term agreement of less than two years, unless there is a term in the agreement that says you can. If the fixed-term agreement is two years or more, the rent can be increased at any time, but cannot be increased more than once in a 12-month period.
Importantly, you need to give your tenants notice in writing of any rent increase at least 60 days in advance (plus four working days to allow for delivery if the notice is being sent by mail). You can read more in our article about rent increases here.
Water Usage Costs
It is possible to pass on the costs of water use to the tenant but in order to do this your property must be water compliant, with its own water metre. Otherwise, you as the property owner will be responsible for any water costs for the property.
Safety And Security
Landlords are obliged to ensure the property they are renting out is safe. Overall this means you need to make sure no-one is injured or suffers damage through your neglect - whether that’s tenants, neighbours or the general public.
This can include things like:
- Maintaining the structure of the rented dwelling so it’s in good repair
- Maintaining any installations at the property (eg: gas, heating, etc)
- Maintaining any supplied appliances unless otherwise specified (oven, etc)
- Ensuring adequate safety around elevated windows and balconies that can pose a hazard
- Ensuring door and window locks work and the property is secure
- If you have a pool or spa, making sure they meet current pool fencing requirements
- Installation and some maintenance of smoke alarms in rented premises
- Being responsive to any issues that pose a health threat (eg: severe rising damp).
Repairs And Maintenance
As a landlord, you must deal with any emergency repairs at the property within 24-48 hours. This includes major issues like gas leaks, burst pipes and blocked toilets. If a landlord doesn’t respond, a tenant is permitted to organise a repair up to a certain value.
For less urgent repairs, such as a dripping tap or a jammed window, you have approximately a fortnight to respond.
You can read more about your obligations when it comes to repairs here.
Access To The Property
As a landlord, you’re entitled to inspect the property but you do need to give reasonable notice and adhere to the NSW regulations. You can read more about rental inspections here.
As a landlord you have multiple responsibilities. But the good news is that these don’t have to be onerous. When you engage an experienced property manager, we’ll take the burden of day-to-day compliance off your hands.
Contact our experienced team of specialists today.