- The property must be structurally sound,
- It has to have adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room (except any storage rooms and garages),
- It has to have adequate ventilation,
- To be supplied with electricity or gas, and to have adequate electricity or gas outlets for lighting, heating and appliances,
- To have adequate plumbing and drainage,
- To be connected to a water supply service or infrastructure for the supply of hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning, and
- To contain bathroom facilities, including toilet and washing facilities, which allow user privacy.
The verdict: Most properties will already meet these standards. Whilst these changes are meant to protect tenants, the main issue with these requirements is that they are hard to quantify and are leaving the door open to disputes that didn’t exist previously – particularly with older properties. Quantifying what “adequate” means is impossible. Simple requirements like “adequate light” and “adequate plumbing” can create confusion and disputes.
- carry out annual checks to ensure all smoke alarms installed at the property are in working order
- replace a removable battery in all smoke alarms in the period specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer (for a removable lithium battery), or otherwise annually
- repair or replace a smoke alarm that is not working within 2 days of becoming aware that it is not working
- replace a smoke alarm with a new smoke alarm within 10 years from the manufactured date, or earlier if specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer.
The verdict: These changes mean that there are now added responsibilities for landlords. Overall this is a welcomed change as – despite the new $99 per year charge, annual checks by a qualified provider remove confusion but most importantly ensure that there is better safety for tenants and airtight protection for landlords in case of a fire. It should be noted that for some properties in a strata complex, annual tests are conducted by a body corporate appointed provider. Whilst in theory this seems to fulfil the requirements, at the time of writing this post, body corporate checking is hard to monitor and no certificate is issued on completion. In addition, it is not clear of the quality of work carried out by those suppliers and whether the tests are done with the Residential Tenancy Act requirements in mind. For example, will the batteries of rented properties be changed every year by the body corporate suppliers as is the requirement in the Tenancy Act? And can body corporate appointed providers be contactable and ready to jump onot repairs within the required 2 days? Our experience so far says no.
Because of that, it is our view that for peace of mind, landlords should organise their own testing, with qualified providers that understand the Tenancy Act smoke alarm requirements and who can provide a compliance certificate on completion.
- Tenants can secure furniture to a non-tiled wall for safety reasons,
- they can fit a childproof latch to an outdoor gate of a single dwelling,
- they can insert fly screens on windows,
- they can install or replace internal window coverings (such as curtains and blinds),
- they can install cleats or cord guides to secure blind or curtain cords,
- they can install child safety gates inside the property,
- they can install window safety devices for child safety,
- they can install hand-held shower heads or lever-style taps to assist elderly or disabled occupants,
- they can install or replace hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings, picture frames and other similar items,
- they can connect a phone line or access to the internet and any associated facility or customer equipment,
- they can plant vegetables, flowers, herbs or shrubs that don’t grow more than 2 meters – as long as they don’t need to remove existing vegetation or plants,
- they can install wireless removable outdoor security cameras,
- they can apply shatter-resistant film to windows and glass doors, and
- they can make modifications that don’t penetrate a surface, or permanently modify a surface, fixture or structure of the property.
The verdict: The ability for tenants to make modifications, will lead to disputes, and can cause damage to the property if the modifications or their restoration, is not done by a professional. The fact that tenants require consent from the owner prior to making these changes is positive as it will be an opportunity for property managers to discuss the modification and keep an eye on them on completion and at the end of the tenancy. For landlords these “minor” modifications signify a change of mindset – especially for those that carry an emotional attachment to their property, but for us property managers, it probably means a lot more work and disputes at the end of the tenancy.
4. Break fees for fixed term agreements become set. This applies to agreements that are entered into from 23 March 2020 onwards, BUT not for tenancy agreements signed before. The break fees are:
- 4 weeks rent if less than 25% of the lease had expired,
- 3 weeks rent if 25% or more but less than 50% of the lease had expired,
- 2 weeks rent if 50% or more but less than 75% of the lease had expired, and
- 1 week’s rent if 75% or more of the lease had expired.
5. New requirements to disclose information BEFORE signing a tenancy agreements and sharing landlord details. There is additional information to be disclosed, and the tenant will be able to end their tenancy agreement by giving at least 14 days’ notice if the landlord or property manager fails to comply with any of the information disclosure obligations. A tenant can also apply to the Tribunal for an order to end the tenancy and the tribunal will also have the discretion to order the landlord to compensate the tenant for any costs incurred as a result of ending the tenancy agreement. The information that needs to be disclosed is as follows:-
- Events and natural disasters that occurred at the property
- whether the property has been the scene of a violent crime in the previous 5 years,
- whether it has been used for the manufacture or cultivation of a prohibited drug or prohibited plant in the last 2 years,
- whether it is listed on the loose-fill asbestos insulation register, and
- whether the property has been subject to flooding or bushfire in the previous 5 year
- Condition of the property itself
- anything that is deemed to be of significant health or safety to the tenants,
- whether the property is affected by zoning or laws that will not allow you to obtain a parking permit and only paid parking is available in the area,
- whether the council waste services are on a different basis to other premises in the area,
- whether other people are entitled to share the driveway or walkway,
- whether there is a proposal to sell the property or if a mortgagee (i.e. bank or other lender) is taking court action for possession of the property,
- whether the property is in a strata scheme which has scheduled rectification work or major repairs in the common property during the fixed term of the agreement, and
- whether it is part of a building to which there is a notice of intention to issue a fire safety or fire safety or rectification order has been issued (ie for the rectification of combustible cladding)
- Other information that must be made available to the tenant:-
- a copy of the strata scheme’s by-laws if the property is part of a strata complex, and
- information about the landlord (if using an agent) such as
- The landlord name
- A way for the tenant to contact the landlord directly. This could be a telephone number or other contact details such as an email address. In the cases that the landlord does not use a property manager, the tenant must also be provided with their residential or business address to receive mail. Furthermore, the tenants must also be informed in writing within 14 days of any change to the landlord’s details during the tenancy.
The verdict: Most of the information to be shared is proper and fair. The big change going forward is that the tenancy agreement must include the contact details of the landlord so that the tenant can contact the landlord directly. The intention behind this is that the tenant can let the landlord know if the property manager is not doing a good job… but what about the scenario whereby the tenant bypasses the property manager and decides to call the landlord to complain about how unfair the rent increase is, or to discuss wanting to break the lease early, or to discuss options to resolve their dispute with their neighbour, or what to do with the noise from the apartment upstairs, or to let you know that the air con is not working on a hot Sunday morning, or to tell them that they would like you to replace the blinds, or to request putting a security door in, or to tell them they locked their keys in etc etc… if you are a landlord, just think about getting one of those phone calls at your work, or while driving, or at 10 o’clock at night…
- New standard form of agreement is in the new Regulation and must be used from 23 March 2020 onwards.
- Updated Entry condition report to reflect the new laws and now officially allow for electronic copies
- Rent increases for periodic (continuing) leases will be limited to once every 12 months
- Changes to make it easier for tenants to get repair orders from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- Ensuring tenants can access their own personal information held on tenancy databases, without being charged a fee
- Taking photos and videos: a landlord or agent can access the rented property without the tenant’s consent to take photos or videos for advertising the property for rent. Photos and video can only be taken ONCE in the 28 days before marketing starts or the agreement ends. The landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice and a reasonable opportunity to move their belongings out of the frame of the photo or video. If a photo or video shows any of the tenant’s belongings, it must not be made publicly available without the tenant’s written consent. The landlord and the agent can share the photo or video with each other, but only if it is for inspection, maintenance or repair purposes. Tenants must not withhold consent to publish photos or videos unreasonably.
- A landlord’s agent must not sign an acknowledgment on the residential tenancy agreement unless the landlord’s agent has first obtained from the landlord a statement in writing that the landlord has read and understood the contents of the rights and obligations information statement.
Who we are:
If you liked the content of this article and would like to learn more about NextGen and the services we provide, feel free to make contact with us by filling in the form on this location https://nextgenpm.com.au/contact-us/.
NextGen Property Mgmt (www.nextgenpm.com.au) is a boutique Real Estate licensed agency that specialises in property management. NextGen Property Mgmt does NOT has a sales team unlike most other agencies that specialise in Sales and have Property Management as a side business.
Our area of focus is residential property and we operate in Inner and South West Sydney, as well as St George.
NextGen was created from its infancy to cater for investors as it was founded by investors who quickly realised that in a highly regulated industry like Real Estate – competence, expertise, care and service by property managers varies greatly.
As an investor, you need to have trust for and feel valued by your property manager. You need to know that your property is being looked after with minimal disruption and you are getting maximum return for your investment. At NextGen we understand that because we are investors living busy lives ourselves, so our promise to you is that you will no longer have to worry about your most valued asset because we will make sure to take care of it as if it is our own.