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What are my basic responsibilities as a landlord?

Your basic responsibilities are to provide accommodation that is safe, secure and satisfies all the basic human needs. This includes a structurally sound building that is watertight and reasonably well-maintained, basic cooking facilities, hot water, shower & toilet facilities and premises that are reasonably safe & secure. There are also requirements around providing your tenants with quiet, peace & enjoyment to live their lives, while also providing a reasonably healthy environment free of hazardous toxins such as mould or loose asbestos fibres.

Should I use an agent or self-manage?

Self-managing can save you money over time & arguably deliver better results as no one appreciates your property more than you! However it does take some time to self-manage. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding if you would like to get an agent in or self-manage are:

  • How long does it take for me to travel to the rental property? Is it convenient for me visit?
  • Am I a people-person and am I happy to interact with others?
  • Am I prepared to take the time to learn the ropes including the appropriate legal requirements for managing my rental property and protect myself as a private landlord?
  • Am I prepared to show tenants the home for inspection & print/sign new legal agreements?
  • Am I prepared to address urgent maintenance requests or maintain contact with someone nearby who can attend the property on request?
  • Do I have someone who can handle emergency requests while I am overseas or on holidays?
  • Am I prepared to inspect the property at least twice per year to check my tenants are happy, are looking after the place and that the property is reasonably maintained?
  • Do I have a contact I can ask for advice or assistance if things go wrong?

If you are still not sure if self-management is for you, make sure you read our article - ‘Is Self-Management For Me?’.

What is the risk of my tenants cashing in on Airbnb or sub-letting?

Unfortunately unauthorised sub-letting or Airbnb hosting is more common than you may think throughout Australia! Although it is a standard part of most residential tenancy agreements to forbid tenants from sub-letting, Airbnb & short-term letting is in a bit of a legal grey area as there is convention over whether it falls under the definition of sub-letting and is more seen as granting a ‘license’ of use.

Nonetheless, it is really difficult to enforce and prevent your tenants from doing this and to catch your tenants in the act. The risks to you could include making your insurance invalid due to the extra risk of an incident, not to mention additional wear & tear on your property increasing your maintenance costs.

To read more about how you can prevent this and catch your tenants in the act, see our blog post ‘Are your Tenants Cashing in on Airbnb?’.

What rental returns are normal in Australia? What should I aim for?

The average gross rental returns on residential properties across Australian Capital Cities is currently around 4%. However, with the right rental strategy in place, you can expect up to 8-10% or more gross rental returns. To read more about rental returns and real estate investing make sure you read our article - ‘Why we Love Rental Properties (And you should too!)’.

I Use an Agent

What questions should I ask when looking for a new agent?
  • Can I please have a sample managing agency agreement, tenancy agreement and inspection report?
  • What is your tenant recruitment process? Do you conduct background checks? What fees do you charge as a letting fee when you find me a new tenant?
  • What are the average vacancies between tenants for your clients?
  • How often do you conduct rent reviews?
  • How quickly on average do you respond to maintenance requests?
  • What is your tenant eviction process? How long does it take you on average to get a problematic tenant evicted?
I’m not happy with my property manager! What options do I have?

It may be a good idea to start by speaking with the agent to voice your concerns to see if you can have an open and honest conversation to resolve the issue.

If there’s no resolution, check your managing agency agreement to see how much notice you are required to give and whether you can terminate straight away or if you have to wait until the term of the agreement is over.

If you find that your agent has violated your agreement or not done as promised, you can call your local authority for advice such as the Department of Fair Trading in NSW or The Consumer Affairs in Victoria.

Still not sure? Contact the Australian Landlord Institute and we would be more than happy to help you out!

I Self-Manage

What are urgent repairs?

Urgent repairs can include the following (source: Department of Fair Trading, NSW):

  • Burst water service or a serious water service leak
  • Blocked or broken toilet
  • Serious roof leak
  • Gas leak
  • Dangerous electrical fault
  • Flooding or serious flood damage
  • Serious storm or fire damage
  • Failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises
  • Failure or breakdown of the hot water service
  • Failure or breakdown of the stove or oven
  • Failure or breakdown of the heater or air-conditioner
  • Fault or damage which makes the premises unsafe or insecure

These items must be rectified immediately or as soon as practically possible, otherwise the tenant may claim a reduction in rent over this time or compensation to make alternative arrangements or for hardship or stress.