Tag Archives | Property Rentals Legislation

Secret Tenants’ Business – QLD Amendment Bill for Tenancy Databases

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Amendment Bill 2011 was introduced into Queensland Parliament on 10 May 2011 by the Hon Karen Struthers MP, Minister for Community Services and Housing and Minister for Women.

If adopted by Parliament the Bill will introduce additional measures regarding tenancy database listings, so that Queensland laws are consistent with laws being introduced nationally.

To view the Bill and related material visit www.legislation.qld.gov.au

Background

Queensland was the first state to introduce laws to regulate listings on tenancy databases, in 2003.

The following year, a national working party was established by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) and the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs (MCCA) to consider the issue of tenancy databases.

The working party recommended the development of national uniform laws in 2006.

The model provisions were drafted in accordance with the recommendations in the final report of the joint SCAG/MCCA working party, Report on Residential Tenancy Databases, and the associated Regulatory Impact Statement.

There was a national consultation process for the draft model provisions between November 2009 and January 2010.

Queensland consulted on the draft Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Amendment Bill 2009, which showed how the model provisions would be implemented in Queensland.

Queensland led the drafting of the laws and coordinated the national consultation on the draft provisions from December 2009 to January 2010.

The MCCA formally adopted a revised set of model provisions in December 2010.

What are residential tenancy databases?

Residential tenancy databases are commercial electronic databases that contain information about a person’s tenancy history.

Most real estate agents subscribe to one or more of the databases, using them to evaluate prospective tenants.

Source: www.rta.qld.gov.au

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The Ups and Downs of Rental Properties and Minimising your Losses

We all love it when we own a rental property and all’s going well. When the tenant is paying on time and looking after the place and no repairs are required and the property is going up in value – we wish we had another ten properties! But when things are not going so smoothly it is a different story!

This month we have lived through the frustrations of things not going well for one of our owners and I would like to share some of the learning’s from this experience for everyone to consider.

1.       Furnished properties – not something I would consider or recommend. If something like a fridge breaks down, no matter how new it was, you will need to replace or fix it. And if any of your furniture is damaged accidentally it is unlikely your insurance will cover you. As one of our owners discovered this month.

2.       Landlord Protection Insurance – Please check your policies!! There are so many different policies and exclusion clauses you need to be sure that the policy you have will protect you for what your needs are: such as loss of rent if the tenant is behind. You don’t want to find that your policy only covers you if your tenant is more than 5 weeks behind as this owner did! Also, you need to be covered for accidental damage. It is rare that tenants intentionally damage your property and it is more likely to be accidental so check that you’re protected.

No one likes it if a tenant does not pay rent on time. If the problem becomes a consistent one than you need to strongly consider if you want to continue the frustration of not knowing when you will receive your rent. Unless your property is hard to rent (in which case you need to consider other factors) I highly recommend giving the tenants notice (two months) at the end of their lease and finding another tenant. I would also recommend that you give notice to vacate if breach notices are not remedied by the due date to minimise your loss of rent. Failure to do so can also void your insurance policies.

The above comments may seem hard and please be sure that I empathise with any tenant or landlord going through difficult times. We do not want to see any of our customers and clients in this situation. However,in acting for you, our landlords, it’s important to me to provide you with advice that will protect your interests.

Christina

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How to Give Tenants’ Notice Without Grounds

A lessor rents out his investment property on a fixed term agreement which is due to end on 31 December. He decides to allow his student son to move into the property, which is near the university, on 1 February.

The lessor would like the current tenants to move out on 31 January, and he gives them written Notice to leave on 30 November.

After the fixed term agreement ends on 31 December the agreement becomes periodic, meaning the tenant can leave at any stage by giving two weeks notice.

When a lessor ends a tenancy agreement without grounds, they must give the tenant two months notice to leave. This applies to fixed term as well as periodic agreements.

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act) allows a tenancy to end for a number of different reasons, such as non-liveability or abandonment. The Act also allows a tenancy to be ended ‘without grounds’ if the party ending the agreement does not give a specific reason.

A lessor cannot end a fixed term agreement without grounds before the agreement’s end date, unless the tenant agrees.

Fixed term agreements can end only when either the lessor or tenant gives written notice. When the fixed term agreement moves beyond its agreed end date – and if neither party has given notice – it becomes a periodic agreement.

A lessor or tenant can end a fixed term or periodic agreement. When a tenant decides to leave the rented property, they must give the lessor two weeks notice. However, if it is a fixed term agreement, a tenant cannot leave before the agreement’s end date unless the lessor agrees.

If a fixed term agreement is for a period of six months, the lessor and tenant should be aware that negotiations about continuing the tenancy agreement may sometimes begin three months before the end of the tenancy.

When a lessor presents a tenant with a Notice to leave (Form 12), giving the required two months notice, the tenant might choose to find a new rental property immediately, but in a fixed term tenancy, the tenant cannot leave before the agreement’s end date unless the lessor agrees.

More information about ending a tenancy without grounds is available on the RTA website.

Last Updated: 03 August 2011  Source RTA

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Free Help for Landlord and Tenant Disputes

Whether you’re a lessor (landlord), agent or a tenant, disputes can occur over everything from money matters to repairs. The RTA encourages people to communicate with each other to resolve such issues. But if an agreement cannot be reached, the RTA offers a free dispute resolution service.

Dispute resolution team leader Lalita D’Netto said the service helped to re-open the lines of communication. “Our conciliators help people find common ground,” Lalita said. “Most people are reasonable when they are made aware of the issues and sometimes it helps to talk through concerns with an impartial person.”

RTA conciliators cannot instruct people what to do, nor can they make decisions for them. Lalita said most people want to resolve the dispute rather than having the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) make a ruling on their behalf.

The RTA conducts dispute resolution in three ways:

  • three-way telephone conference
  • face-to-face conciliation
  • telephone shuttle: where RTA conciliators hold separate telephone enquiries with each disputing person.

The conciliator will choose the best way to deal with the dispute depending on the circumstances involved. The most common disputes occurred during a tenancy and at the end of a tenancy (mainly involving bond refunds), Lalita said. If the dispute cannot be resolved, either party can lodge a Dispute resolution request (Form 16) with the RTA.

Once the RTA receives the form, it is registered, a conciliator is allocated and letters are sent out to each party inviting them to take part in a telephone conference. Lalita said people who wanted to use the dispute resolution service should have prepared documentation like receipts. She said disputes were assessed depending on urgency but most cases were dealt with within 28 days.

 If a resolution cannot be reached, a Notice of unresolved dispute is issued to the person who lodged the Form 16. When the issue relates to a bond dispute, under the legislation the party has seven days to apply to QCAT and notify the RTA of their intentions. People applying to QCAT must lodge the RTA’s Notice of unresolved dispute with their tribunal application. The exception to this rule is if the application is classed as urgent.

The RTA received over 21,000 dispute resolution requests in 2010-11. Approximately 14 per cent went on to become applications to QCAT.

Last Updated: 03 August 2011 Source RTA

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Smoke Alarms – Seller, Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities Made Clear

Know your responsibilities in relation to the latest smoke alarm legislation. The stakes are high so let’s be sure to get it right!

Landlords

Landlords are required to:

– install and maintain smoke alarms in rental properties in accordance with Australian Standard 3786. This can be a 9 volt battery operated smoke alarm, with a one year battery for dwellings built before 1997. However, a good quality 10-year battery alarm or hard-wired alarm is more reliable and effective in the long term. Homes built after 1997 must have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.

– test and clean each smoke alarm within 30 days before the start of a tenancy agreement. A landlord may arrange for an agent to do this.

– replace each battery in the smoke alarm that is flat or that the landlord or the landlord’s agent is aware is almost flat within 30 days before the start of the tenancy. This must be done in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.

– replace the smoke alarm unit before it reaches the end of its service life. The service life is usually indicated by the warranty offered by the smoke alarm manufacturer.

– have checked by a competent professional a smoke alarm which the tenant has reported as not operating. Repair the smoke alarm as required. Alternatively, replace the smoke alarm. A managing property agent may be able to arrange for a landlord’s legislative requirements to be met.

Fire Officers will investigate complaints received. There is a maximum fine of $500 for failing to install smoke alarms.

Tenants

Tenants are required to:

– test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling at least once every 12 months (once a month is recommended)

– replace, in accordance with the information statement in RTA Form 171 provided to you, each battery that is flat or is almost flat during your tenancy

– advise the landlord or the landlord’s agent as soon as practical if a smoke alarm in the rented property

Sellers

On the sale of a property, the seller must lodge a form with the Queensland Land Registry (www.nrw.qld.gov.au) stating that smoke alarms are installed in the property and that the purchaser has been informed that smoke alarms are installed.

Information taken from the 11 page Qld Government Booklet downloadable here which has Everything you need to know about smoke alarms and more!

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