Saturday, 20 July 2013

WA Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act – What They Mean to You


Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act – What They Mean to You

On the 1st July 2013 the new changes to the act will come into effect. While there have been many minor technical changes, there are several major ones that will affect all landlords in Perth.
Tenancy Agreement
All rental properties in WA will be required to meet the new minimum levels of security as set down under the Act. This is the first time security has been specified.
  • Main entry door must have a deadlock, unless there is a compliant lockable security screen
  • All other external doors must have a deadlock or patio bolt
  • Exterior windows must be fitted with a locking device that cannot be opened from the outside
  • There must be an external light at the main entry that can be operated from inside
Owners will have 2 years in which they can upgrade their property to meet the new minimum requirements.
Next time you have a handyman attend your property for general maintenance, why not have him fit the required locks to make your property compliant without a second call out fee.
Urgent Repairs – Urgent repairs to essential services (gas, electricity and water/sewerage) must be notified to the owner / managing agent as soon as is practicable and that person must arrange for the work to be carried out to restore the service within 24 hours.  If the tenant cannot contact the person responsible, then they may organise the repairs to be carried out and be reimbursed by the owner.
Owners Right of Entry to the Premises – Under the changes to the Act we may now only enter the property 4 times each year for the purpose of conducting Routine Inspections. Inspections will need to be planned to maximise their effect as re-inspections after a breach may contravene the Act now.
Prescribed Forms – New forms are being produced by DOCEP and are to be used by ALL landlords and Managing Agents. We may add annexures if we think necessary. The new formats will apply to Leases, and Property Condition Reports, which are now mandatory even for private landlords.
Lease Renewal with Increased Rent – Either the tenant or the owner must now give 30 days’ notice to end a fixed term tenancy – It will not automatically end at the end date specified on the lease.  If a new lease is negotiated at a higher rent, then the new rental amount will not come into effect until 30 days after the commencement of the new lease.
Option Fees - It is common practice to take an option fee with applications from prospective tenants. This has previously been the equivalent of 1 weeks rent but under the changes to the Act it will be reduced to $50 for a property with rent less than $500pw and $100 for properties over $500pw.  The Option fee cannot automatically be applied to rent once the application has been accepted.
Complying with the Residential Tenancies Act has always been a minefield for private owners and now with so many changes to the small print it is even more complicated leaving you open to litigation if you get it wrong. Many of the fines for non-compliance have been increased and there are no special exemptions for Private landlords.
It is more important than ever to ensure you have a very competent Property Manager, who has a full understanding of the legalities of renting out your property and can protect you from potential claims arising from non-compliance.
Denise Thompson

About

Denise is driven by a commitment to help investors get maximum return on their property investment, with minimal involvement. She prides herself on building strong relationships with investors and tenants to ensure the best protection of property assets. As a passionate property investor managing her own portfolio, Denise understands the challenges and pitfalls of property management and is skilled in averting a crisis. She has a flair for finding the right tenants, and keeping them. Denise has a background in business management and marketing, and holds a real estate license. She thinks outside the square and will happily go the extra mile to protect your property and maximise the value of your investment. Denise is well known in the Perth real estate sector and is raising property management standards to an unprecedented high within the industry.