Know Your Responsibilities As A Landlord

Nick Massarotti
December 6, 2018

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Recent changes to Victorian rental laws have given tenants more rights and opportunities, so what does this mean for landlords?

Here’s some great information to make sure you meet your legal obligations and avoid fines and headaches when renting your property.

It is especially important to familiarise yourself with your obligations if you are managing the property yourself, rather than through an agent.

If you’re learning about your options as an investor and thinking about becoming a landlord, it’s a great idea to learn what will be required of you before taking the leap.

Consumer Affairs Victoria has detailed information on the rights and responsibilities for tenants and landlords, but here are some key points to help you navigate the issue.

1. Choosing a tenant

When looking through applications, you’re not allowed to discriminate against potential tenants based on their age, race, religion, sexuality or abilities. Conversely, you can’t choose your preferred applicant based purely on these criteria either. It’s also illegal to discriminate against people with kids or babies on the way.

With recent reforms passed in Victoria, it’s now also illegal to knock back applicants just because they have pets.

To avoid any issues or undue stress, we highly recommend getting the help of a property manager to handle the application process.

2. Before they move in

Your property needs to be clean and well maintained before your new tenants begin their lease, with no need for major repairs or ground works. Plus, although it seems obvious, the house must also be unoccupied.

3. New properties

As the landlord, you’ll need to pay for services and utilities to be connected to your property for the first time. Subsequent connection fees are the responsibility of each tenant.

4. Security

All doors must have locks and all the windows must close securely. You need to provide keys to each lock unless some areas are off-limits to the tenants as outlined in the rental agreement.

5. Inspections

Your new tenants are entitled to privacy in their new home – it needs to feel like their own space.

You need to give your tenants 24 hours notice and no more than seven days notice if you’d like to inspect the property or come over to make repairs. You cannot ask to enter the property unannounced.

You can only make general inspections once every six months, but you can also arrange to enter the property to:

  • do work or activities outlined in the agreement
  • value the property
  • show prospective tenants through, but only within 14 days of the current lease ending
  • follow up on a reasonable suspicion that terms of the lease have been broken, such as damage or misuse.

6. Increasing rent

Rent cannot be increased before the end of a fixed-term lease, and never more than once every six months. You will need to give 60 days’ notice each time.

Tenants have the option to appeal an increase if they feel it is excessive. They can also request a rent assessment if services or facilities have been removed that would decrease the value of the tenancy.

7. Making and paying for repairs

You are required to keep your property in good condition, including all appliances that come with the house. All repairs are ultimately your responsibility, but you can ask your tenants to pay for any damage they caused.

You’re obliged to respond to requests for urgent repairs quickly, otherwise, the tenant is entitled to organise repairs and you will need to cover the costs up to $1000. Consumer Affairs Victoria has a complete list of repairs that are considered urgent, such as leaking roofs, gas leaks, blocked toilets or broken locks.

Save time and hassle

The best way to make sure you’re meeting your obligations and reducing your risk of being fined is to enlist the help of an agent. A friendly member of our rental team can help tick every box and manage every aspect of the process.

Get in touch today if you’re looking to keep things simple and above board as landlord.

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