As a first-time (or even a seasoned) property owner, there’s a stack of things to get your head around. From meeting your compliance obligations to securing great tenants, getting the basics right is what will help you succeed in property investing.
Out of all the things you need to consider, landlord rights is one of the most important. These rules and regulations explain what’s expected of you as a property investor and what responsibilities you have to meet.
By figuring out what landlord rights apply to you, you’ll reduce the likelihood of legal action, keep your rental property complaint and make your property investment experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.
What are landlord rights and why do they matter?
In a nutshell, rental landlord responsibilities are a set of legally enforceable rules and regulations that apply to landlords across Australia. Enforced at a state level, these rules explain what obligations landlords have to their tenants when renting out their investment property.
The main aim of landlord rights is to keep tenants safe and to prevent property damage and preventable injury. If a landlord is found to be negligent or fails to meet these landlord rights, they may face serious legal and financial consequences.
As a landlord, you need to check what landlord rights may apply to you depending on where your rental property is located. That’s because each state and territory has different rules and regulations you’ll need to follow.
So, why should you brush up on your rights and responsibilities as a landlord?
- Landlord rights explain your obligations to your tenants: failing to keep your property in good condition or not following relevant property laws can result in your tenants lodging a complaint against you or simply vacating your property (which can take a big hit to your rental income).
- Landlord rights are legally enforceable: breaching your rights and responsibilities as a landlord can lead to major legal consequences. However, by meeting your obligations, you can lower the chance of legal action and avoid the huge costs of court hearings and hiring lawyers.
- Landlord rights keep your rental property compliant: being proactive about your landlord rights and property compliance can help limit your exposure to risk, help you avoid unwanted costs and keep your property in good condition.
Ultimately, taking the time to assess what landlord rights apply to your rental property is what will safeguard your rental income and prevent unnecessary costs and legal action.
What responsibilities and rights do landlords have in Australia?
Each state and territory has its own sets of specific landlord responsibilities. These are set out in each state or territory’s Residential Tenancy Acts and come into force through each landlord’s residential tenancy agreement. So, regulations for rental properties in Sydney will vary from those in Brisbane or Melbourne.
In broad terms, landlords across Australia must meet minimal rights and responsibilities, including:
- Making sure your property’s structure and exterior is compliant and well-maintained
- Checking all utilities (such as gas, electricity and heating) are connected and working
- Ensuring all appliances are installed safely and well-maintained
- Addressing any health risks (such as mould) in a timely manner
- Ensuring you give enough notice to your tenants ahead of inspections
- Adhering to the rules about when and how often you can raise the rent
- Meeting all the duties and obligations listed out in your specific tenancy agreement
It’s also important to find out which governing body enforces landlord rights and responsibilities in your local area. Here’s a snapshot of who is responsible for enforcing these landlord rights in your state:
What legislation does a landlord need to be aware of?
Since each state and territory has its own specific landlord rights and obligations, let’s run you through what regulations apply to your investment property.
Landlord rights Victoria
For landlords with Victorian rental properties, your landlord rights are set out and enforced by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
From March 2021, a stack of new laws came into force under the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021. These changes cover everything from new requirements for rental applications to condition reports as well as new rental minimum standards.
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights Victoria:
- Bond: landlords can’t ask for more than one month’s rent as bond or require tenants to pay more than a month’s rent upfront (for properties with a rental of $900 per week or less).
- Rent increases: landlords can’t increase the rent during a fixed term agreement. If an increase is permitted, landlords must give tenants at least 60 days written notice of the change.
- Rent arrears: if tenants are more than 14 days late on rent, landlords can give notice to vacate the rental property.
- Inspections: landlords must provide seven day’s notice ahead of routine inspections.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords must ensure their rental properties meet the minimum standards prior to tenants moving in. Plus, landlords must pay renters back for the cost of urgent repairs within seven days.
- Ending a tenancy and eviction: landlords must provide a valid reason for asking renters to vacate (such as the sale of property or demolition)
Landlord rights NSW
In New South Wales, landlord rights are enforced by Fair Trading NSW, with most residential tenancies covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights in NSW:
- Bond: must be lodged with NSW Fair Trading and cannot be more than four weeks rent.
- Rent increases: different rules apply depending on whether you’re on a fixed term or periodic agreement. In most cases, written notice of the increase is required that explains the proposed new amount and the date of the change.
- Rent arrears: if a tenant is late paying rent, they’re in breach of their rental agreement. It’s up to the landlord or property manager to decide whether they change the payment method, send a reminder or take steps to end the tenancy.
- Inspections: landlords need to provide at least 7 days’ written notice and can’t inspect a property more than four times in a 12 month period.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords are responsible for keeping their property in good condition. If tenants cause damage to the property, the landlord can ask the tenant to organise repairs and cover the costs.
- Ending a tenancy and eviction: a tenancy can be ended by a landlord with written notice, as long as the landlord adheres to the minimum notice period.
Landlord rights QLD
In Queensland, landlord rights are enforced by the Residential Tenancies Authority (with rules set out in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008).
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights in QLD:
- Bond: this needs to be lodged by the landlord or property manager to the RTA and should be no more than four weeks’ rent (for properties where the rent is $7000 or less per week).
- Rent increases: this amount can’t be increased during a fixed term agreement, unless stated in the tenancy agreement. Tenants must receive at least two month’s notice and the rent can’t be increased more than once every six months.
- Rent arrears: if a tenant is more than 14 days late in rent, a landlord can issue a Notice to leave, with a minimum of seven days to leave the property.
- Inspections: landlord right of entry reveals that tenants must be given at least 7 day’s notice before routine inspections.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords need to keep their rental property in a good state and need to organise repairs within seven days of being notified by the tenant.
Landlord rights SA
In South Australia, residential tenancies are governed by Consumer and Business Services.
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights SA:
- Bond: this needs to be lodged by the landlord within two weeks of receiving it.
- Rent increases: at least 60 days’ written notice must be provided before a landlord can increase the rent. While there’s no limit to how much rent can be increased, a landlord can be taken to the South Australian Civil & Administrative Tribunal if the increase is found to be excessive.
- Inspections: when it comes to landlord right of entry, landlords need to give at least 7 days’ written notice before an inspection and can inspect the property no more than once every four weeks.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords need to attend to repairs within a responsible time frame and must give at least 48 hours notice before visiting the property to conduct repairs.
- Ending a tenancy and eviction: if tenants end a fixed term lease, a landlord can hold them responsible for the costs of reletting the property. Plus, tenants can be evicted if the lease agreement is breached.
Landlord rights WA
In Western Australia, residential tenancies are enforced by Consumer Protection WA.
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights in WA:
- Bond: this needs to be lodged with Consumer Protection WA and can't be more than four times the weekly rent.
- Rent increases: landlords can’t increase the rent more than once each six months. If a tenant believes the rent increase is unreasonable, they can apply for a reduction from the Magistrates Court.
- Rent arrears: if a tenant falls behind in rent, landlords are able to make steps to end the tenancy.
- Inspections: landlords can only conduct routine inspections up to four times per year and need to give tenants at least 14 days’ notice.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords are responsible for getting repairs sorted. However, any damage caused by the tenant needs to be fixed and paid for by tenants.
- Ending a tenancy and eviction: if a tenant is more than 14 day’s behind in rent, fail to adhere to the tenancy agreement or the property is destroyed, notice to end the tenancy can be provided by the landlord.
Landlord rights NT
In the Northern Territory, Consumer Affairs is responsible for enforcing residential tenancies.
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights NT:
- Bond: this security deposit is paid to landlords and is equivalent to four weeks rent.
- Rent increases: landlords can only increase the rent if it’s already included in their tenancy agreement and tenants must be given at least 30 day’s written notice.
- Inspections: landlords can only inspect their property between 7am and 9pm and need to give seven day’s notice ahead of a routine inspection.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords are responsible for keeping a rental property well maintained. If repairs aren’t made by a landlord, they’re in breach of the tenancy agreement (which can give tenants the opportunity to terminate the lease).
Landlord rights TAS
In Tasmania, residential tenancy agreements are enforced by the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services.
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights TAS:
- Bond: cannot be more than four weeks’ rent and cannot be increased during the tenancy.
- Rent increases: if a lease agreement allows for rent increases, landlords must give at least 60 days notice and can only be increased once every 12 months.
- Inspections: routine inspections can only be carried out once every three months and tenants must be given at least 24 hours’ notice ahead of time.
- Repairs and maintenance: once a landlord has been notified of the need for a repair, these must be fixed within 28 days.
Landlord rights ACT
In the ACT, residential tenancies are enforced by Justice and Community Safety and governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (1997).
Here’s a quick summary of the current landlords rights ACT:
- Bond: these need to be paid to the ACT Revenue Office and can be up to four week’s rent.
- Rent increases: tenants must be given at least 8 week’s notice of the proposed increase and can only happen once every 12 months (for periodic tenancies).
- Inspections: landlords can only inspect properties up to twice every 12 months and must give tenants at least one week’s notice.
- Repairs and maintenance: landlords need to make sure repairs and maintenance are taken care of during tenancies.
When it comes to understanding landlord rights and responsibilities, it’s important to check what specific rules apply in your state or territory. By working with an experienced property manager, you’ll ensure your property remains compliant and that you’re aware of all the rights and obligations you have as a landlord.
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