Purchasing a property is a huge step in your investment journey. Once your property is tenanted, you’ll become a landlord, and that comes with its own responsibilities.
Whether or not you’ve decided to use a property manager, it’s vital that you have a comprehensive understanding of your duties to avoid any misunderstanding, or in some cases legal disputes. These responsibilities include:
- Knowing the legislation
- Holding the security bond
- Safety and security
We’ve put together a handy guide that outlines these responsibilities, so you can rest easy at night knowing you’ve taken care of everything you need to.
Knowing the legislation
This is your most important duty as a landlord, and also the most difficult to stay on top of. It’s the reason that property managers do 10 hours each year of study to stay on top of the legislation. From ensuring correct notice is given on some forms, timing on certain maintenance, correctly implementing rent increases, using prescribed forms when necessary, there’s a lot to know and remember.
Legislation that is relevant to you includes:
- The role of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (the department) and the Magistrates Court
- Obligation to use a prescribed tenancy agreement if the agreement is in writing
- The need to give the tenant a copy of the Information for tenant (Form 1AC for a written agreement or Form 1AD for a non-written agreement)
- Use of the premises
- Discrimination against children
- Options for tenants affected by family and domestic violence
- Urgent repairs
- Fixtures, renovations, alterations and additions
- Right of entry by the lessor
- Payment of rent and rent increases
- Security bonds
- Assignment and subletting
- Who pays rates and taxes
- Ending a tenancy
- Giving of notices
Holding the security bond
As a landlord, you will need to hold a security bond from your tenant. Generally, the security bond must not be more than four times the weekly rent, but there are exceptions. If the weekly rent is $1,200 or more per week then the lessor may charge a bond higher than four weeks’ rent. Also, if your lease allows you to keep a pet capable of carrying parasites that can affect humans, such as cats, birds or dogs, an additional amount of no more than $260 can be charged as a pet bond to meet the cost of fumigation at the end of the tenancy. A pet bond cannot be charged for assistance dogs.
When you receive a security bond from a tenant, you must immediately issue a receipt. The receipt must show the name of the person who paid, the amount paid, the date of payment and the address of the rental premises. All security bonds must be lodged with the Bond Administrator (a section of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) as soon as practicable and in any event within 14 days of receiving it. If you do not pay the bond money to the Bond Administrator within 14 days of the receipt of the bond you will be in breach of the Act and can be prosecuted. The Bond Administrator will then send you and the tenant a record of the payment.
Safety and security
In addition to the above duties, as a landlord, you need to ensure that your property is reasonably secure. Residential tenancy laws in Western Australia have always required landlords to provide and maintain locks or other devices to ensure rental premises are ‘reasonably secure’. Minimum levels of security standards have now been defined and your rental property must meet these standards.
These security measures include:
- Main entry door – either a deadlock or a key lockable screen door to Australian Standard AS 5039-2008.
- All other external doors (excluding balcony doors where there is no access to the balcony except inside the premises) – a deadlock or, if a deadlock cannot be fitted, a patio bolt lock or a key lockable security screen to Australian Standard AS 5039-2008.
- Exterior windows (excluding windows fitted with security grilles to Australian standard AS 5039-2008, windows on, or above the second floor of the building and where the window is not easily accessible from outside the premises) – must be fitted with a lock that prevents the window from being opened from outside. Does not have to be a key lock.
- Main entry light – an electrical light that can illuminate the main entrance to the premises must be fitted to or near the exterior of the premises and be operable from inside the premises.
You also need to maintain certain safety standards, as a landlord has a duty of care to their tenants. These can include but are not limited to:
- Making sure blinds and cords are not unsecured and have safe design features
- Properly securing pool and spa fences
- Equipping the property with RCDs and smoke detectors, and maintaining them
So where does the property manager come into it?
The day to day management of your property is a huge task. That’s where a property manager comes in; they’re the experts in taking care of your investment. Aside from taking some of the hassle off your plate, having a property manager can help to reduce your risks and even increase returns on your investment.
In general, the property manager is responsible for:
- Communicating and liaising between the tenant and landlord
- Setting the rent and collecting it (as well as chasing it if necessary)
- Finding good tenants and long-term lease agreements
- Property maintenance and conducting routine inspections
Access Property Management
At Access, we have your best interests in mind. We want you to have peace of mind that you’re fulfilling your duties and obligations as a landlord, keeping your investment maintained to a high standard and your tenants happy. If you’ve got any more questions about what your duties are as a landlord, you can get in touch with us here.