Frequently Asked Questions 

 

Please see a list of frequently asked questions. We have made every effort to publish most questions which arise when sourcing a Property Manager.

 

We have divided the questions into categories, please pick the category your question relates to below and click on the question to reveal the answer.

 

 

If you have a question which isn't answered here please feel free to contact us HERE.

 

Leasing & Renewals

Rent Collections

Pets

Landlord

Insurance

Inspection

Bond &

Bills

Maintenance & Pest Control

Pools

Vacate

Procedure

Minimum Security

Getting The Property Rented

What do you do to get my property rented?

Once we have a signed Management Agreement authorising us to act on your behalf, if the property is vacant we list your property in the following effective forms of advertising:

 

  • Internet - Now the number 1 source for enquiries, we have researched various web sites and conclude that the current best performing site for generating enquiries is: 

 

  • www.realestate.com.au         

 

The advert is created with marketing principles in mind; presenting the features and benefits of the property in order for a tenant to be able to easily match their needs and requirements.


Professional images of the property are included which present the property accurately in its best light. We do not engage in the practice of using such lenses or applications which can make a room or area appear larger. Carrying out deceitful practice such as this can be detrimental to marketing efforts. Potential tenants can be mislead into organising a viewing through false expectations, often leading to disappointment and no application.

 

  • Rental Listing Brochure - Your property is added to our office listing brochure with a photo and details of your property. This is provided to anyone that comes in looking for a rental property.

 

  • Window Display - a copy of our rental listing brochure is entered into our window display.

 

  • Direct Marketing - We nurture relationships with companies, organizations and government agencies in Port Hedland who rent a large number of properties on the open market. All properties are directly marketed to these contacts by a mixture of email marketing and telephone marketing.

 

  • Email – An email link to the property information is also sent to our internally compiled list of people currently looking for a rental property whose criteria matches your property. 

When are the viewing times?

Viewings are organised as soon as possible once an enquiry is received at a time and date which suits the tenant. Caine Otley Real Estate aims to carry out inspections on properties before potential tenants have even had an opportunity to speak to other agencies giving the best chance of securing the tenant.

 

We offer extended viewing times also for the convenience of the tenant as follows:
 

  • 7am – 8pm Monday to Friday

  • Saturday and Sunday up to 8pm by prior appointment

 

This is vitally important in a town such as Port Hedland where many people work extended hours and may not otherwise be able to organise the time off work.

How Should The Property Be Presented?

We ask that the property be presented in the best manner possible to attract the right tenant for your property. We don’t want a bad first impression to detract the right tenant from renting your property.

 

In a lot of cases, tenants may carry out a drive by of the property before contacting the real estate. If they do not like what they see they will not contact us for a viewing.

 

Please refer to our guide ‘Getting the Property Ready for Your Tenant’ in Section Three with tips and a checklist on how to present your property for rent.

How Do You Determine the Best Rent For My Property?

We always strive to get you the maximum rent possible; however we also must keep in mind setting the correct market rent to get your property rented with minimal vacancy time. Both factors are important to present your property on the market successfully for rent.

 

To do this, we consider these factors:

 

  • Demand - Is there a high or low demand for properties at present. This can be seasonal and affected by a number of factors. Is there currently a high vacancy rate.

 

  • What Is Available Now - we look at properties currently available for rent and consider their location and features for comparison to calculate a maximum rent for your property.

 

  • What We Have Rented Right Now - We compare your property with what we have currently rented, taking into account property location and features.

 

  • What properties have rented through competitors – We also monitor what properties have been taken off the market in the past couple of weeks and at what price they were advertised at to provide further indication as to what rates tenants are currently prepared to pay.

 

These factors allow us to give you enough information to set the right rent in order to try to make sure the property does not remain vacant for an extended period of time.

What if I want a rent amount that is higher?

You may place your property on the market at the rental amount you wish. However keep in mind that it is the market demand that sets the rent. If the market (prospective tenants looking for a rental property) deem the amount of rent too high, your property may stay vacant longer than necessary.

 

Consider the following scenario:

 

All too often owners will be tempted to try to maximize the rent they achieve by instructing the managing agent to advertise the property at a slightly higher price than recommended. As your managing agent we are employed to act on the owners instruction even if it is against advice.

 

By advertising at a higher price does not render your rent competitive to other properties available and when tenants are selecting a property they are almost guaranteed to choose a comparable property that saves them money.

 

This could leave your property vacant until such time that you lower the rent to a competitive rate.

 

With this in mind, be aware your annual rental return will be reduced by almost 2% for every week it is vacant!

How is the rent reviewed during the time that you manage it?

When we need to secure you a new tenant, we will always review the rent against market conditions. This will also be done at lease renewal time, or at other times during the lease if a rent increase clause has been added to the lease. We will always contact you for your permission before the rent is increased.

How Does Someone Apply For My Property?

We always ask that the prospective tenant fill in an application form, signing giving permission for us to check the information provided. We will never discuss an applicant with you without this application form completed prior to contacting you.

How Do You Check An Applicant?

With the information provided we confirm their payment and tenancy history by calling their current and/or previous landlord/agent as well as confirming their employment, checking them against a National Tenancy Internet Database to see if they have been lodged as a bad tenant by a previous agent.

 

In some cases where an applicant may not have a tenancy history we try and confirm other information that may give us insight to show their ability to maintain a tenancy in your rental property, for example a stable employment history.

 

In some cases where this is not possible we may simply advise rejecting the application, but the choice of applicant is completely yours.

Does a reason have to be given to reject the applicant?

Legally we do not have to give a reason and by industry practice we never give a reason.

Who selects the applicant for my property?

You do! We will simply give you the information we have collected and by using our experience give you a possible guide as to the tenancy outcome, but at the end of the day it is always your choice!

Do You Guarantee The Tenant?

We can never guarantee any approved tenant for your property. We can only attempt to collect information on their past history and confirm their income arrangements. As their paying of rent and maintaining the property is purely voluntary we cannot guarantee any tenancy outcome. This is a landlord risk that comes with allowing someone else to rent your property!

How Clean Should The Property Be When A New Tenant Moves In?

The property should be presented ‘reasonably clean’ in accordance with legislative requirements. Please refer to our guide to ‘Getting the Property Ready for Your Tenant’ in Section Three for recommended levels of cleanliness.

 

As a very general rule we ask the tenant to leave the property at the standard they found it. Therefore we would recommend a professional clean before the property is presented for leasing.

 

In cases where the property is provided in an extreme level of cleanliness we ask the tenant to leave the property likewise. However in the case of a dispute legally we can only enforce that the tenant return the property in a ‘reasonably clean’ condition, this being their minimum legal obligation.

What do you explain to the tenant when they move into the property?

We go through all of the most important expectations. For example, how they must pay their rent on time, where to pay their rent, what we do if they do not pay their rent. We discuss our repairs and maintenance policy, what happens in an emergency repair situation, how often inspections occur and what we look for.

 

We also supply them with two copies of the ingoing inspection form, explain how they must check, sign and return one copy of the form within 7 days. We explain and get them to sign the Bond Lodgment Form.

 

We also hand to them a Consumer Affairs booklet that explains some of their tenancy rights and obligations. We must issue them with this booklet in accordance with legislative requirements.

What do they sign?

We prepare a Tenancy Agreement covering the details of the tenancy, with terms and conditions.

 

We explain the main parts of the agreement to the tenant before we get them to sign it. We will then send you a copy of the tenancy agreement together with a copy of the ingoing inspection report, for your records.

When do they get keys and possession of the property?

Keys are made available for collection on the lease start date providing the following criteria is met:

 

  • All lease documents and bond lodgment form is initialed and signed correctly.

 

  • All bond monies and initial rent payment are received.

Who decides if the lease will be renewed?

You do! We will contact you by email before the lease is due, and seek your instructions if you wish to renew or in fact not renew the lease. Once we have your approval we will then approach the tenant to negotiate renewal of the lease.

If I do not wish to renew the lease, do I have to give a reason?

If you do not wish for the lease to be renewed you are not obligated to give your tenant a reason. You must however provide the tenant 30 days notice in writing.

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Receiving My Rent Monies

When do I get paid my rent?

Your rental funds (minus any fees and expenses) are deposited from our trust account at close of business on the last day of every month. Please be aware of any time delays that could be associated with your bank account on receiving the funds. Please also take into account weekends and public holidays

How do you collect the rent?

The following methods of payment are accepted from tenants:

 

  • Cash payments at our office can be made Mon – Fri from 9.00am – 4.30pm.

 

  • Direct bank transfer - If this is your chosen method of payment please make sure enough time is provided for the payment to reach our account. It is advised that payment is made at least 2 days prior to the rent falling due.

What happens if my tenant does not pay the rent?

Paying the rent is always a voluntary action on behalf of the tenant. We can never force a tenant to pay their rent. Even the courts can only ‘order’ a tenant to pay but can never physically force them to pay. If a tenant does get behind in their rent payments, this is the process we follow.

 

  • 1 Day In Arrears – The tenant will receive an automatic arrears notice from our system reminding that the rent is due.

 

  • 2 Days in Arrears – The tenant receives a 14 day breach notice giving them 14 days to pay the monies owing.

Tenants generally respond to the breach notice and deposit the funds when sent. We will also work with the tenant to do what is required to ensure the rent is received prior to the due date so they don’t receive a breach notice going forward.

 

In the rare instance where rents still remain unpaid the process continues as follows:

 

 

  • Once the 14 day breach notice expires we will issue the tenant with a 7 day termination notice.

 

  • If the tenant has not vacated the property within the 7 days or does not pay the outstanding debt, an application is lodged with the courts.

 

  • Once a court date is received we attend the hearing and file for termination of the lease, acquisition of bond to pay outstanding debts and a further request for outstanding debts and damages if the bond is not large enough to cover the amounts owing.

 

As you can see, the full legal process can be very drawn out and lengthy. Unfortunately it is unlikely that the bond will cover the shortfall in rent, let alone any other expenses or damages.

 

It is highly recommended that you have landlord insurance in place and make sure that the policy covers loss of rent in the case of your tenants defaulting on their rent payments.

 

Without landlord insurance, the chance of recovering owed rent monies is minimal. If you have no protection for your rent payments, the problem is further compounded with the fact that the bond will probably be exhausted with owed rent. You will then most likely have cleaning up and re-letting costs, as well as outstanding monies like water consumption owed by the tenant.

 

Therefore without landlord insurance, this process can be quite financially damaging. 

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Pets At The Property

Are there any good reasons why I should allow pets at the property?

The majority of owners aren’t happy about advertising the property as “pet friendly”. In the case of a strong market where demand outweighs supply this will not have too much of a detrimental effect. However, in a market where there is low demand and an over-supply of properties, its imperative that you open up your target market as wide as possible and consider tenants with pets as this will add to your chances of securing a tenant a lot quicker.

 

As other owners are generally opposed to pets being aloud at the property, by allowing pets you will:

 

  • Have a competitive edge over other houses in your area.

 

  • Increase the chances of a longer term tenant as they may perceive it difficult in the future to move to an alternative property.

If Pets Are Allowed, What Expectations Will Be Given To The Tenant?

All pets that are kept on the property have to be declared on the lease. The legal description of a pet in WA is any creature that is capable of carrying parasites, therefore not just limited to cats and dogs..

 

  • All pets to be kept at the property are recorded on the lease agreement.

 

  • The tenant is responsible for any damage caused by their pet and the removal of any rubbish or faeces deposited by the pet.

 

  • A non-refundable additional bond of $260.00 is collected for fumigation purposes once the tenant vacates.

 

  • At your request, the pet may not come inside the property.

 

  • No additional pet may occupy the property without prior permission.

 

  • The pet may be asked to be removed fom the property if it becomes annoying or bothersome to neighbours (after reasonable warning has been given in writing).

How Do I Ensure The Pet Will Not Come Inside The Property?

We obligate the tenant to commit in writing that they will not bring the pet inside. However as we are unable to monitor the property all of the time, we cannot guarantee that the pet will not come inside the property.

 

We do look out for any warning signs whilst at the property conducting inspections. However, the only way to ensure that a pet will not come inside the property is to insist ‘No Pets’ right from the start of the tenancy.

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Landlord Insurance

Why do I need landlord insurance if I have an agent?

We at no time can guarantee your tenant’s performance at your property. The risk belongs to the owner of the property, and therefore the owner should be insured for such a risk.

Why do I need landlord insurance if I have a good tenant?

A tenant’s circumstances can change rendering them unable to continue to pay the rent such as redundancy or illness.

What does landlord insurance cover?

When it comes to the protection of your property, landlords insurance is a policy addition that can give you great peace of mind. Depending on your provider, landlords insurance can cover you for accidental or malicious damage to both the structure of your property and any contents that you may have leased to your tenants for their use.

Loss of rent is an optional extra on some policies so before settling on a policy always check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of the policy you’re comparing to get a picture of what insured events are covered.

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Property Inspections

Do you inspect the property at the beginning of a tenancy?

We conduct a comprehensive inspection of your property when a tenant first moves in by way of the Property Condition Report.

 

We inspect your property area by area (lounge room, bedrooms, kitchen, front and rear yards, garage etc) and then all items present in each area (walls, ceiling, light fittings, curtains, windows, stove etc).

 

We record their condition and cleanliness item by item, and then a brief description and detail about the item. This would involve recording details of any marks, scratches and dents etc.

 

We also take photos of every angle of every room as well as garage and outdoor areas. We also take close up photos of any existing damage that is recorded as back up evidence to the written report

How often do you inspect the property during the tenancy?

In WA we are legally allowed to inspect the property up to 4 times per year. The first inspection is organized for 6 weeks after the tenancy start date and then subsequent inspections are scheduled every 3 months.

 

Routine Inspections are a bug bearer and a large source of inconvenience and dissatisfaction for tenants. Keeping tenants happy is a big key to retaining your existing tenants and alleviating expensive leasing fees in the future.

 

We offer a unique service to help alleviate this stress to tenants as follows:

 

  • If the routine inspection report shows the tenant is taking good care of the property, you will be given the option to reward them by organising the next inspection in 6 months time instead of quarterly.

 

  • This means that good tenants only receive a maximum of 2 inspections per year which is a big selling point for tenants when choosing a rental home.

 

  • This has a positive effect in the following ways:

 

 

 

  1.  Happy tenants due to less invasion of privacy, are more likely to take better care of your property and will be more amicable e.g. if you are re-renting or selling the house in the future, happy tenants are usually very amicable in arranging viewings where gaining access is difficult with tenants who are unhappy.

  2. Happy owners due to cost savings involved; not just less inspection fees but by also retaining happy tenants for longer saves on fees associated with re-renting.

  3. Happy property managers due to less demand on their time means better service for you. A good tenant / property manager relationship also makes for a more pleasant work life.

 

The routine inspections are not as detailed as the Property Condition Report at the start of the tenancy. These inspections are more of a walk through checking room by room that the tenant is keeping the property damage-free and reasonably clean. We also take a photo of each room and out door areas (providing we have the tenants permission) as well as close up pictures of any areas of concern.

 

We also note any repairs reported or observed by us and any other recommendations needed to assist you in keeping the property in the best condition possible.

 

A copy of the inspection report will be emailed to you. We will also organise any maintenance items observed or requested and detail these in the accompanying email to the inspection report. For information on maintenance, please refer to the section on our maintenance procedure. 

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Bond Collection & Bill Payments

What is the security bond and how much do you take?

A security bond is a payment made in advance by the tenant to cover any costs for which the tenant may be liable at the end of the tenancy, for example unpaid rent, outstanding water use charges, or damage to property or chattels.

 

All bond monies collected are lodged with the bond administrator (a section of the Department of Commerce) within 14 days of receipt.

 

You are not legally obliged to charge a security bond. If you do (and it is highly recommended) you cannot ask for more than the equivalent of four week’s rent however the following exception applies:

 

  • If the rent is more than $1200.00 per week then you may charge a higher bond if you wish.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

When do you pay back the bond monies?

We only refund the bond after the following has occurred

 

  • The tenant has fully vacated the property and keys returned

 

  • The property has been inspected, and is satisfactory when compared with the ingoing inspection report.

 

  • All monies are paid. This could be any outstanding rent, water or anything owed by the tenant

 

  • If the tenant is breaking their lease, any re-letting fees and advertising costs (part or full costs)

If the tenant has a pet, can I ask for an extra bond?

The maximum allowed as a “Pet Bond” is $260.00 – regardless of the number of pets - for fumigation of the property at the end of the tenancy.

 

A pet bond can be taken for any animal that may carry parasites that can affect humans such as cats, rats, birds or dogs.

 

A pet bond cannot be taken for assistance dogs.

 

No animals may be kept on the premises without the owner’s prior permission.

Who pays for electricity and gas charges?

Electricity and gas charges are generally the tenants expense.

 

The tenant is responsible for contacting the gas and electricity suppliers before moving into the accommodation and having the bills changed into their name. They are then responsible for paying the full cost of these bills.

 

If there is no separate metering for any of these services, the prescribed tenancy agreement requires a calculation about how the tenant’s costs will be worked out.

 

It is important to include these calculations as the tenant is not obliged to pay a utility bill unless there is written agreement about how the bill will be calculated.

If the tenant receives their electricity bill from you, ie not directly from the electricity supplier, you cannot charge the tenant any amount other than the consumption cost. You would need to pay the supply cost yourself.

Bottled Gas

 

Port Hedland does not have a mains gas supply, so all properties using gas will require a bottled gas supply.

 

The tenant is responsible for all charges for the use of bottled gas except for charges relating to the supply, therefore the owner would pay the cost of the hire and supply of gas bottles. 

Who pays for water charges?

The owner is responsible for paying any service charges associated with the water supply. The tenant generally pays for the water usage portion of the bill, unless your agreement provides for sharing the costs to encourage watering of lawns and gardens. The prescribed tenancy agreement provides space for you to identify what percentage of water usage the tenant will need to pay.

 

Where there are individual water meters on a property, the Water Corporation can send water consumption accounts directly to your tenants. However, be aware if the account is not paid, you will be responsible for the amounts owing. This can also have a detrimental effect on your credit rating if bills remain unpaid.

 

For this reason and for the owners to be able to keep an element of control, we recommend that water accounts are dealt with in the following way:

 

  • The owner receives water bills directly from the water corporation and pays the complete bill immediately.

 

  • The owner scans both sides of the bill and forwards by email to the property manager.

 

  • The property manager emails the tenant a copy of the bill along with an invoice for the water usage portion.

 

  • The property manager pursues payment of the bill and organises reimbursement to you once paid.

What about council and sewerage rates?

All these costs must be paid by the landlord as specified by legislation.

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Repairs and Maintenance inc. Pests

What is your policy on repairs and maintenance?

In the past, maintenance requests and the lack of response from agents has been a major grievance for tenants. In addition to this, if requests are delayed or ignored, tenants may stop reporting problems altogether and will almost certainly vacate the property once the lease expires leaving a large repair bill before the property is ready to re-rent.

 

If problems are ignored the tenant may also be within their rights to apply to the court to have the lease agreement terminated and you will then have the expensive task of re-leasing the property as well as having to fix all the problems previously ignored in order to make the property habitable.

 

With this in mind, when maintenance is required we will always issue a work order immediately. We will send you an email to inform you of the problem and we will email the tenant to let them know we have instructed a tradesperson to contact them to arrange access.

 

By following this procedure we are keeping within the laws which dictate minimum response times and we are also keeping the tenant informed and happy as well as ultimately looking after your asset..

 

Happy tenants have a positive effect in the following ways:

 

  • They are more likely to take better care of your property

 

  • They are more accommodating to the needs of the owner e.g if you are selling or re-renting your property in the future, the tenant is more likely to allow access for viewings.

 

  • They are likely to stay longer at the property which means you avoid the high fees associated with finding a new tenant on a regular basis.

Who is responsible for repairing my property?

You and your tenants have shared responsibilities. At the start of a tenancy, you must provide the premises to the tenant in a habitable and reasonable state of cleanliness and repair. The tenant must keep the premises clean and tidy and hand it back in a similar condition to how it was at the start of the agreement, taking into account normal use, in other words fair wear and tear. The tenant must not intentionally or negligently damage property and must notify you as soon as possible if any damage occurs.

 

You must keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair during the tenancy and comply with building, health and safety laws.

 

The tenant is responsible for basic household maintenance like replacing light globes, vacuuming, cleaning windows, dusting and removing cobwebs inside and out.

You are responsible for the upkeep of the property, for example plumbing and the maintenance of contents already provided such as the refrigerator, stove, washing machine or air conditioner.

 

If there is mould or mildew caused by faults in gutters or other fixtures, then you must fix it. On the other hand (where the property allows), the tenant must ensure there is adequate ventilation throughout to help avoid mould.

Who is responsible for maintaining the lawns and gardens?

You are responsible for major tree lopping, cutting back overhanging branches (such as those near power lines) and maintaining fire breaks.

 

Your tenant is responsible for garden maintenance, such as mowing and edging lawns, weeding and pruning. You should provide them with the necessary hoses, sprinklers etc.

 

You are responsible for normal maintenance to any garden reticulation system. Delays in dealing with maintenance problems can lead to claims from your tenant that the lawns or gardens suffered damage because they were unable to water them properly. The tenant may still be responsible for hand watering the garden where it is reasonable to do so.

 

The tenant should advise you if they notice a water leak (if they don’t and the leak is obvious to them, they may be liable for the costs of water lost). Once you’ve been told the water is leaking, you are responsible for the cost of any water lost.

 

If the property is provided with luscious landscaped gardens with an abundance of plants and lawn that requires a lot of water, you may wish to consider agreeing to pay a portion of the water usage as this can be a great source of resentment from tenants.

 

In a town such as Port Hedland where people have jobs with long hours, the majority of tenants do not want to have to spend their spare time attending to the gardens of their rental home. It is always best to provide the rental property with attractive but low maintenance grounds which will avoid any conflict of this type. Gardens that require a lot of care may be detrimental to the properties rent-ability as tenants who are not green fingered may avoid renting the property altogether. However, a certain amount of lawn area can also be desirable for tenants who have children.

Who is responsible for the reticulation and watering restrictions?

Western Australia operates restrictions on the use of automatic watering systems to reduce water use. The water corporation may issue a fine to any owner whose property is found to be watering outside of their restricted times.

 

If the house number of your rental property is an even number you are allowed to water on even days of the month. If the house number of your rental property is an odd number you are allowed to water on odd days of the month. Your sprinkler system must only be active on the days allocated during the hours before 9am or after 6pm.

 

For up to date information on water rostering days please go to:

 

http://www.watercorporation.com.au/save-water/watering-days

Who is responsible for paying a watering restriction fine?

It is the owners responsibility to pay the fine unless it can otherwise be proved that the tenant has tampered with the system and changed the watering days or times. This is very hard to prove as there could also be outside factors which have caused the system to re-set such as a power outage.

 

Most tenants will not attempt to change the system unless they feel aggrieved by the amount of water which is being used at the property as the cost of water usage is their responsibility.

 

Before the start of a tenancy, it is a good idea to leave clear instructions on the proper use of any reticulation system. In addition, your tenant should always have access to the system’s timer box. Setting and locking the timer yourself means your tenant has no control over the system – and can argue that because of your unnecessary use of water, you should pay the costs. If you prefer to have sole access to the automatic reticulation system it is a good idea to contribute to a percentage of the water costs. Whatever is decided should be clearly written into Part C of the tenancy agreement before signing.

Who is responsible for general wear and tear?

General wear and tear that occurs from tenants just living in a property is expected and legislation provides that it be allowed. A few extra marks and scuffs on the walls, some chips and scratches to doors and doorways will occur over time, along with the gradual wear of everything that is in the property. You will be responsible for costs arising from “fair wear and tear”.

 

Sometimes it is difficult to agree what is normal fair wear and tear and what is wilful and neglectful damage by the tenant. The following examples may help to explain the difference:

 

Fair Wear and Tear – lessor is liable

 

  • Carpet wear in corridors or other areas from general use.

  • A lock broke because it was old and had worn out.

  • Paint flaking because it is old or not applied properly.

  • Curtains faded from years of exposure to sunlight.

 

Neglectful Damage – tenant is liable

 

  • Stains or burns from things dropped or placed on carpets.

  • The tenant forgot the key and broke a lock to get in.

  • Mould/mildew has formed because the dwelling was not aired adequately.

  • The tenant’s pet tears the curtains

 

The only time a tenant can be held responsible is if wear and tear is considered ‘excessive’ for the time frame that the tenant has been in possession. For example, a newly painted property with walls severely marked after 2 years resulting in the walls having to be painted again may not be allowed as ‘reasonable’ wear and tear. In a tribunal this type of situation, if proved, could result with the tenant paying for the painting to be done, minus any depreciation for the age of the paintwork at that point in time when it was repainted again.

 

A general rule which we follow is that painting and floor coverings should expect around an 8 year lifespan before they would expect to be re-painted or replaced. The same could also be said for window treatments. Please also be aware of any fixtures and fittings which are impractical and can easily get damaged during operation e.g metal venetian blinds can easily buckle out of shape especially when used on sliding patio doors and other doorways – because of this impractical use it could be argued in court that it is not the tenants responsibility to replace when damaged.

 

Please also refer to our Residential Tenancies Act quotes in Section 2 of this handbook for specific legislation on these issue.

 

 

 

What if the tenant is at fault?

If a tenant has caused damage to an item that is not the result of normal break down or wear and tear, or a problem has occurred due to the tenants neglect, this will be charged to the tenant.

 

We nurture good relationships with our trades-people and they would not hesitate to let us know if the problem has been caused by the tenant.

 

In such cases you would be expected to pay the cost of the maintenance initially in order to keep a good working relationship with our trades-people. We would obtain a written report to show it was the tenants responsibility, invoice the tenant the cost and then reimburse you once the fee is collected.

Who is responsible for pest control at the property?

The tenant is required to take regular basic pest prevention measures such as proper storage of food and using sprays and baits at their own cost.

 

As a general rule, any outbreak or infestation (of rats, mice, possums, cockroaches, termites, ants, spiders, wasps or bees), requiring attention by a pest control operator is your responsibility and not the tenant’s.

 

In the first instance where a pest problem is reported we would inform the tenant that it is their responsibility to treat the problem using sprays, traps, poison etc which is available at general retail stores. If the problem persists and the tenant deems it an infestation we would then organise for a pest control operator to attend. If it is found by the operator that the problem was not in fact a major “infestation” and could have easily been treated by the tenant or the infestation was caused through their own activities or their pets, the cost will be passed on to the tenant.

Should I get my property regularly checked for termites?

Yes! We strongly recommend all of our clients choose a pest control service and request that they regularly check your property for termite activity at the frequency they recommend, usually annually.

 

We do not automatically organize these regular pest inspections on your behalf unless requested to do so in writing. 

 

Please note, it may be a general exclusion of building insurance policies that damage to your property caused by termites is not covered (not insurable). Therefore regular checking is the best way to prevent termite damage, or at least attempt to identify warning signs that termites are creating damage.

 

Without this the damage could be substantial and very costly to rectify.

What happens if a repair is required after hours, or on weekends?

The tenant is provided with an out of hours contact number for emergency repairs. Although we provide the tenant with a clear understanding of an emergency repair when they take up residence, we will always establish that the repair requested is in fact an emergency as outlined below:

 

Urgent repairs are those that are necessary to supply or restore an essential service, these include:

  • Gas

  • Electricity

  • A functioning refrigerator (if supplied with the premises)

  • Sewerage / septics / other waste water treatment

  • Water (including the supply of hot water)

 

Or to avoid:

 

 

  • exposing a person to the risk of injury

  • exposing property to damage

  • causing the tenant undue hardship or inconvenience

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Pools and Spas

Who is responsible for maintaining a pool or spa?

The owner has the responsibility that their swimming pool or spa meets safety standards and being clean and chemically balanced at the start of the tenancy. This includes the provision of a barrier for the protection of young children who may enter that area with or without the knowledge or consent of the owner.

 

Up to date state pool and spa regulations can be found at the following address:

http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission/swimming-and-spa-pools

 

Provision of maintenance equipment such as vacuums, hoses, brushes and scoops for day to day maintenance are also the owners responsibility. If any of the equipment breaks down or is damaged through no fault of the tenant, it is the owners responsibility to repair or replace.

 

The tenant is responsible for keeping the pool or spa and any associated equipment in a properly treated and in a clean condition including supplying of chemicals; and for observing all legal requirements relating to pools or spas during the period of the tenancy.

 

The tenant also has a responsibility to report if fences and gates are not functioning correctly, and the gate fails to self-close promptly when opened. The owner must organise for this to be repaired or replaced as soon as reported.

Do I need to supply regular pool maintenance?

Some owners provide regular pool maintenance at their properties in the assumption that the pool will be better looked after.

 

This can have the opposite effect with tenants shirking any responsibility over pool maintenance altogether. Even the simplest of chores can be ignored such as topping the pool up with water, skimming the surface of debris and emptying of the skimmer basket which can all play a part in the pool pump equipment ceasing to function correctly.

 

In this instance it can be extremely difficult to prove liability when things go wrong.

 

With this in mind, we recommend the following course of action giving the tenants the skills to take overall responsibility over the pool maintenance:

 

  • At the start of a new tenancy we organise a pool handover with a local pool maintenance professional to provide the tenants with the knowledge and skills involved to take good care of the pool.

 

  • A step by step guide to maintaining the pool is also provided to the tenant.

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Vacate Procedure

How much notice must my tenant give when they want to vacate the property?

This depends on the type of lease they have signed. If they wish to vacate the property on a non-fixed term lease (“periodic lease”), they are required to give only 21 days notice in writing. Please note that an expired fixed term lease also reverts to a periodic lease once the end of lease date expires. However, if you wish to end the periodic tenancy, you are legally obliged to give 60 days notice to the tenant.

 

If they are on a “fixed term tenancy” they can vacate at the end of lease by providing 30 days notice of their intention to vacate. Please note that if the tenant does not provide the 30 days notice before the lease end date, the lease will continue until the 30 days has expired. Of course it is up to us to approach the tenant to seek their intention to either renew the lease or vacate the property usually about 2 months beforehand.

 

If they break their lease, they may do so with little to no notice, however they are subject to paying rent until a new tenant is secured, or to the end of the lease (whichever occurs first). They must also contribute to the letting fee and advertising costs (please refer to the section on breaking of a fixed term lease).

What happens when the tenant sends notice to vacate?

We understand that a tenant vacating a property can represent one of the most costly periods for an owner. As well as experiencing no rental income during the vacant period which can in some cases be several months, there will be regular costs such as garden maintenance and pool maintenance if required. Once a tenant is found further fees will also apply including leasing fee and property condition report fee.

 

With this in mind we work in the owners best interest to do everything possible to convince a tenant to stay (provided you are happy for them to stay). If a tenant does not fall into the following categories, the tenancy may be salvageable by rent negotiation:

 

 

 

  • The tenant is leaving town

  • The tenant requires a larger property

  • The tenant is moving due to neighbourly disputes

 

If in the instance the tenancy is not salvageable the following procedure occurs:

 

  • The tenant is provided a detailed information pack on our vacate procedure and our expectations of how the property needs to be presented upon leaving. A copy of the Vacate Guide should have been provided along with this handbook.

 

  • A Pre-vacate inspection is carried out approximately 2 weeks prior to the end of the tenancy. The Property Condition Report that was compiled when the tenant moved in to the property is used to identify visible items (excluding wear and tear) that need repair in order for the tenant to have the opportunity to fix these up before they vacate the property. This is carried out in order to minimise the amount of time before the property can be re-rented and therefore not earning.

 

  • A Final Bond inspection is carried out as soon as the tenant has removed all of their items and handed back the keys. The purpose of this final inspection is to check that the tenant has fixed the previously identified issues and identify any further issues that were un-noticeable due to the tenants furniture and items being present.

 

  • We ensure the property has been left reasonably clean.

 

  • We will also arrange to have a special water reading performed at your property.

 

  • Outstanding maintenance is organised and deducted from the bond accordingly along with any other remaining invoices.

What does a break lease mean?

A change of circumstances such as job relocation, redundancy, personal or family illness etc. may mean that the tenant needs to break the tenancy agreement.

 

In this instance your outgoing tenants will be responsible for the following costs:

 

  • Rent until a new tenant is found, or the lease expires (whichever occurs first).

  • Advertising costs associated with finding a new tenant.

 

  • Re-letting fees the outgoing tenant will be responsible for paying back the portion of the letting fee that you incurred when they were given the tenancy in respect to the percentage of time left on the lease.

 

Should the premises be vacant before a new tenant is secured, it is also the tenants responsibility to ensure the grounds are watered and maintained and the house is regularly inspected for problems. If any problems occur and go un-reported due to the tenant leaving, they could still be held liable for any subsequent damage that may occur.

 

As the tenant is responsible for losses you have suffered due to them breaking lease, the law requires that you mitigate any losses. Basically, this means that we must do everything reasonable on your behalf to find a new tenant as quickly as possible and keep your losses to a minimum.

What happens if the tenant breaks one or more of the conditions of tenancy?

Depending on what has occurred depends largely on what action is taken. If the breach is minor approaching the tenant verbally or in writing maybe appropriate. If it is something serious we will consult with you first to discuss what action to take.

 

Serious breaches of tenancy may involve using the property for illegal purposes, causing malicious damage or bringing in pets without prior permission etc.

 

We will always consult with you and advise on whether we should serve a termination notice on the tenant first or use more diplomatic means to rectify the breach.

 

Examples of breaches of agreement other than rental payments:

 

  • keeping a cat or dog on the premises when this is not allowed

  • subletting to others where you have not agreed

  • not keeping the property reasonably clean

  • causing damage to the property

  • changing the locks without approval

  • causing a nuisance to neighbours

  • failing to water or maintain the garden and lawns

  • using the premises for an illegal purpose; or

  • using the premises for business purposes without your approval

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Minimum Security Requirements

What are the minimum security requirements for a rental property?

The lessor is responsible for the property having a minimum level of security in place. The minimum security relates to door locks, window locks and exterior lights. The security required is specified in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989.

 

All rental properties must be in line with the minimum security standards specified in the regulations (as of 1 July 2015).

 

If a tenant wants to fit additional security they must get the lessor’s permission before any work is started. Sometimes tenants and lessors agree to share the cost of upgrading security above minimum standards. If this happens it’s important to put it in writing and make sure both parties sign the agreement. 

 

It is illegal for either a lessor or tenant to remove or change any locks without getting the consent of the other person first.  

 

Minimum security standards:

 

Main entry door:
 

The minimum required security is either a deadlock or an AS 5039-2008 compliant key lockable security screen door.

 

The deadlock can be either a single cylinder or double cylinder. A single cylinder deadlock can be opened from the inside simply by turning the handle or a knob, allowing a person to exit the house quickly in case of an emergency.

 

The deadlock can be separate to the door handle or it can be incorporated into the handset.

 

There is no need to retrofit security if there already is an Australian Standards compliant key lockable security screen with a deadlock fitted.

 

All other external doors

 

The minimum required security is either a deadlock, a patio bolt lock (if a deadlock cannot be installed) or an AS 5039-2008 compliant key lockable security screen door.  If there is a need to install a patio bolt, it does not need to be key lockable.

 

Windows

 

Windows must be fitted with a lock which prevents the window from being opened from outside the premises. This does not mean having to install keyed window locks, but all openable windows have latches, closers or locks fitted and be in working order.

 

If the window is fitted with an Australian standards (AS 5039-2008) compliant security screen, there is no requirement to retrofit a window lock.

 

External lighting

 

Minimum required security is an electrical light at, or near, the main entry capable of illuminating the main entry to the premises and is operable from the inside.

 

This doesn’t apply if the property is a flat or apartment and the lighting is the responsibility of the strata body.

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