Landlord responsibilities: the top 8 things to know

Landlord responsibilities: are you being compliant?

As a landlord in postcode 2101, you have responsibilities to your tenants. These include strict and enforceable rules and regulations laid down by Fair Trading NSW. Whether you own an investment property in Elanora Heights, Ingleside, North Narrabeen, Narrabeen or Warriewood you must comply with the tenancy laws.

The rules and regulations around providing a comfortable and safe home to tenants change regularly. It’s vital you stay up to date as a landlord by working with a responsible and responsive property manager. To give you a head-start, here are some of the regulations to be aware of;

Tenant health, safety and security in postcode 2101

Many landlords on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are not aware of their obligations regarding tenant health, safety and security.

Landlords are responsible for multiple factors, and some of these include:

1. Pest and vermin in investment properties

Pest and vermin responsibilities generally depend on the time an infestation begins.
If there is already a problem when a tenant moves in, it is down to the landlord to rectify the issue. If the infestation occurs after the tenants have moved in, they can be held responsible for taking needing to pay for extermination treatments.

The only reason a tenant is not held responsible in this situation is if there is a structural issue that may have contributed to the infestation, like a hole in the wall.

2. Mould in rental homes

Mould responsibilities differ, depending on when an outbreak occurs. Tenants have a right to move into a mould-free home. If mould develops during the term of the tenants’ lease, they are responsible for eradicating it, unless structural issues are the cause.

Photo evidence of your investment property’s condition before and after a tenant moves in will help identify who is responsible for any mould outbreaks. Work with a property manager who has clear policies for keeping visual records of a property’s condition.

If mould is due to a leak in the roof then the resolution lays firmly on the landlord to have the maintenance problem fixed or face fines.

3. Smoke alarms in tenanted properties

Landlords are required by law to install fire alarms on every story of a rental property. These alarms must be installed in the hallway outside a bedroom or in another suitable location.

It is your tenants’ responsibility to contact the landlord or property manager if they discover smoke alarms are not working.

According to Fire and Rescue NSW, from 23 March 2020, NSW landlords and agents have been required to ensure that smoke alarms installed in rented properties are in working order. Where a smoke alarm is not in working order, landlords and agents must ensure the alarm is repaired (this includes replacing a battery) within 2 business days.

4. Gas safety in rental homes

Landlords are expected to have all gas appliances regularly serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Landlords are also responsible for proper ventilation, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.

5. Windows and balcony safety for tenants

In NSW strata buildings, windows must be fitted with a window safety device so that they can only open to less than 12.5 cm. If the device can be unlocked, then it must have a child safety feature.

6. Swimming pools and spas in rental homes

Any rental property with a swimming pool or spa must meet the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and provide a certificate of compliance. The basic requirements of the Swimming Pool Act are that any pool or spa be surrounded by a secure fence and separate from the rest of the house.

7. Locks and security devices in rental properties

All tenanted properties are expected to provide a reasonable level of security although what classifies as reasonable security may vary.

Landlords and tenants are able to change, alter, or add locks with the permission of the other party or with a reasonable excuse.

A reasonable excuse might be:

  • an emergencyto comply with an order of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • where a co-tenant’s tenancy was terminated
  • where a tenant or occupant was prohibited from accessing the property by an interim, provisional or final Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
  • A copy of the changed lock or other security device will need to be given to the other party within 7 days, unless agreed otherwise.

8. Electrical safety for tenants

Electrical faults are considered a grave danger and should be taken care of immediately. It is the tenant’s responsibility to notify the landlord or property manager should a fault arise. Fixing the issue is down to the landlord. Make sure to check out the Fair Trade NSW website to learn more.

Changes to NSW tenancy laws

If you have been a landlord for some time, it’s worth noting that changes to tenancy laws were implemented in March 2020.

These changes include:

  • Minimum standards to clarify ‘fit for habitation’
  • New smoke alarm obligations for landlords
  • Changes of a ‘minor nature’
  • Damage and removing modifications
  • New mandatory set break fees for fixed term agreements
  • Strengthened information disclosure requirements
  • New material facts
  • New information to be disclosed to prospective strata tenants
  • Remedies for tenants for breaches to information disclosure requirements
  • Additional water efficiency measures
  • New rectification order process
  • New standard form of agreement
  • New condition report
  • New landlord information statement

If you need a refresher on the 2020 changes, head to the Fair Trade NSW website to get up to date.

Work with an experienced property manager

The best and most reliable way to keep on top of your landlord’s responsibilities is to work with a quality property manager who is based in your local area. It’s a property manager’s job to stay on top of the NSW tenancy laws and changes to the regulations, and to take the pressure off you, the landlord. Working with an experienced real estate professional means you get to reap the benefits of your rental investment with fewer hassles and less confusion.

Want to check if your investment property is compliant with tenancy laws in NSW? Reach out to our team today.

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