All About Rent Increases

One of the touchiest subjects that can come up between a landlord and a tenant is rent. This is especially true when it comes to rent increases. After all, nobody wants to start paying a higher rent. However, landlords sometimes have no choice in the matter – the costs of keeping a building up and running do tend to increase over time. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, though, it pays to understand the laws about raising the rent; read on to learn more.

The Basics of the Law

Laws concerning the rents that are paid to a landlord from a tenant are outlined in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. You should familiarise yourself with this act in order to make sure that you aren’t running afoul of the law. This is true whether you are a landlord or a tenant.

According to the RTA, rent can’t be increased within six months of when the current rent has been set. This can mean either six months from the start of a new tenancy agreement, or six months from the time of the last rent increase. An experienced property management Brisbane firm should be well aware of this rule; if you are signed up with such a firm, be sure to run any possible rent increases by them first. That way, you can be extra positive that you aren’t inadvertently breaking any laws or rules.

Don’t Break the Law!

The penalties that are associated with breaching the laws set forth in the RTA are quite steep, especially if you are trying to make money off of real estate Brisbane. You can be penalised for up to 20 penalty units if you are found to be breaking the laws in the RTA. This can mean a fine of up to $2,000, which can seriously eat away at any profit that you’re hoping to make. It’s much better to be safe and mind the laws of the RTA, than to break those laws and end up paying an exorbitant fee.

Additional Information

Most tenancy agreements are fixed-term leases. In that case, the rent can only be increased before the end of a lease if the agreement provides for such an arrangement. Even so, two months’ notice must be given to the tenant before any rent increase can go into effect. Periodic agreements work in similar ways, since two months’ notice is also necessary. All of these rules and laws are designed to protect landlords and tenants. Tenants are given time to accommodate rent increases, and landlords are given the opportunity to raise their rents whenever it becomes absolutely necessary..

Maintaining Rental Properties

As a landlord, maintaining your rental properties isn’t just a savvy financial idea – it’s the law. In Australia, there are strict laws laid out in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act concerning how to maintain a rental property. Whether you’re just starting out with investing in Brisbane real estate, or if it’s been a while since you refreshed your memory about it, the following information should be very useful to you.

The Benefits of Regular Maintenance

By maintaining your rental properties, you are more likely to attract long-term tenants. Any property management Brisbane company will tell you that long-term tenants are vastly preferable to those who come and go quickly. Regular maintenance also helps keep major repairs at bay, saving you a great deal of money over the long term. Periodically inspecting the premises of your rental properties is the best way to keep them in tiptop shape.

What the Law Says

There are many fine points concerning the law when it comes to maintaining a rental property. For one thing, it must always be maintained so that it is fit to live in. If problems arise that make a property uninhabitable, you will be breaking the law in Australia. Your tenants have the right to live in a place that is safe and pleasant, which is why these laws are in place. Besides, letting a problem go only means that it will be that much more difficult to contend with later on down the line.

Rental properties must also be kept in good repair. This means that they must not only be habitable, but they must remain in the same general shape that they were in when a tenant first moved in. That is, of course, barring any egregious damages caused by the tenant. One point that many people are confused about concerns inclusion items. Things like dishwashers and refrigerators must be kept in good repair, if they were originally included on the property at the time the tenancy agreement went into effect. Make sure that you are prepared to maintain whatever appliances and other items that you keep in your rental properties.

Emergency Maintenance

Certain problems must be addressed immediately when it comes to maintaining a rental property. The law dictates that a landlord must be able to have emergency maintenance performed as needed. All other forms of maintenance should be conducted within a reasonable period of time. For this reason, it pays to have a good team in place to handle such issues. Make sure that you employ the services of reputable contractors, or that your property management company is able to handle them for you. This won’t just keep your property in good repair – it will help you adhere to the law, too.

Smoke Alarms: What Every Landlord Should Know

As a landlord, there are many laws, rules and regulations that you must keep in mind. In fact, the vast number of small but important things that must be considered is one of the biggest reasons to hire a property management Brisbane firm. Before getting too heavily involved in Brisbane real estate, though, it helps to familiarise yourself with some of the most important facts. In Queensland, there are many laws regarding smoke alarms; read on below to learn more.

Smoke Alarms and the Law

The Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 mandates that every home and unit in Queensland be fitted with smoke alarms. The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, or QFRS, pushed for this law in order to cut back the number of fire-related tragedies that happen each and every year in Queensland. As you can easily surmise, then, every investment property that you own must have a smoke alarm.

The law doesn’t end there, though, especially when it comes to rental properties. In fact, the same act mandates that landlords must clean and test all smoke alarms in a property at the beginning or renewal of every lease. They must also replace the batteries at that time. When a rental property is occupied by a tenant, the tenant is responsible for cleaning and testing their smoke alarms; they must also replace the batteries in their smoke alarms as needed. It is important to remind tenants of this fact when they are about to sign a lease with you.

Additional Information

There is another important law that concerns smoke alarms and rental properties. The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Act 2008 made a provision that allows lessors to enter a premises in order to install or maintain its smoke alarms. However, landlords must give tenants at least 24-hour entry notice before doing so. It is hoped that between these various laws and regulations, a higher proportion of rental properties will maintain functioning smoke alarms; in turn, the number of tragedies and other problems will, hopefully, go down.

At the end of the day, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the smoke alarms on a rental property in good working order. As a landlord, it behooves you to maintain your rental properties; if they burn to the ground, your profits are going to go up in smoke. At the same time, tenants naturally want to live in a safe and hazard-free environment. Nobody wants anyone else getting hurt or killed in a fire, and smoke alarms go a very long way towards eliminating such a possibility. Installing and maintaining a smoke alarm is quite easy; replacing its batteries on a regular basis is, too. Ultimately, it’s well worth it.

When Do Tenants Have to Pay for Water Charges?

Water consumption is a major issue in Queensland. As a property investor and landlord, it is important to understand when you can pass on water charges to your tenants – and when you cannot. More importantly, you should decide how you are going to handle the situation before renting a property to a tenant. Although a property management Brisbane company can handle much of this for you, it’s still smart to have a basic understanding.

#1: Premises Must Be Individually Metered

There is no way to pass water charges on to a tenant if the property that they are renting is not individually metered. Therefore, that’s the first thing that has to be taken into account. If you want to hold your tenants responsible for their water charges, you will have to have individual meters installed on each of your rental properties. In the long run, this sort of upgrade could end up saving you a great deal of money.

#2: Premises Must Be Water Efficient

You can’t expect a tenant to pay for their water usage when the property in which they are living is not water efficient. Leaky faucets and pipes and other issues can make a tenant’s water bill unfairly high. Therefore, it is always in your best interest to keep your properties up to par in terms of water efficiency, especially if you would like to pass on water charges to your tenants. It is plain to see why this rule is in effect.

#3: Tenancy Agreement Must Reflect the Arrangement

Like anything else in the world of Brisbane real estate investing, an agreement in which your tenants must pay for their water charges has to be expressed within the terms of the tenancy agreement. That way, there is never any question or doubt about how things are set up. If you decide to start passing on water charges to a tenant in the middle of his lease, you will have to amend the tenancy agreement and he will have to sign a new one. This is why it’s especially smart to make these changes in between leasing periods.

In the event that a unit is individually metered but not water efficient – yet the agreement states that the tenant must pay for his water charges – you and the tenant must come to an agreement about what constitutes reasonable usage. Any amount over that will be the tenant’s responsibility. All of this must be outlined in the tenancy agreement. Otherwise, arguments and disputes could arise down the road. To keep things simple and easy for everyone, then, it definitely pays to keep everything as clear as possible. It’s just one more thing to keep track of as a responsible landlord.

What To Do When Your Rental Property Is Abandoned

There can be few situations more disturbing to a property investor than to have outlaid capital to purchase a rental property for the purposes of generating income, then have that investment placed in jeopardy by the actions of a tenant. We have all seen the horror stories on the current affairs programs where properties have suffered wilful damage to the extent that they are uninhabitable without significant monetary outlay to bring the property back to parity with the rest of the rental market. The more fortuitous situation, if there is such a thing in these circumstances, is that the property is abandoned without damage.

In the current Brisbane real estate market, no investor can afford to have a rental property not earning income through the premises being abandoned. Having a good property manager will give you a head start, as frequent contact with the tenant, regular inspections and management of the rental income position usually highlights any problems.

However, despite the best efforts of your property manager, there will still be occasions where a tenant walks away from your property without reason or provocation. For the property owner this can sometimes be a difficult time, as there are certain legal processes that must be followed by the property manager before the premises can be declared abandoned.

Your property manager will first issue an entry notice (form 9) to the tenant before an inspection of the property can take place to determine firstly, if it is abandoned and secondly, the condition in which it has been left. The entry notice can be sent to the tenant or placed in a prominent position at the property, and gives the tenant 24 hours notice of the inspection.

If the property manager then has reasonable grounds to believe that the premises has been abandoned, they can either issue an abandonment termination notice (form 15) or apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to have the place declared abandoned. The tenant then has seven days to dispute the notice by application to QCAT, and if no application is lodged the tenancy agreement ends. The tenant can apply to QCAT for compensation if they were unable to dispute the termination notice, and they have 28 days after the termination notice was issued to make that application.

In cases where the tenant has left goods behind there are several other detailed steps in the process that must be taken. However, through sound property management Brisbane investors can recover quickly from losses incurred when tenants abandon a rental property, as long as they have a property manager who understands the laws around this situation, works within them to reach a conclusion, then finds another tenant.

Renting and Domestic Violence

There is nothing in the world worse then domestic violence. It can lower self esteem and confidence and turn a person into a quivering wreck. It can make you feel that you are not worth being loved and sometimes make you feel like you have done something to deserve the beatings you get. The only person who is in the wrong, is the person who is being violent and abusive. They are the ones with the problem. The victim is often a spouse, a dating partner or someone being cared for by this person. The victim has a right to be safe. Generally, a person who commits an act of violence towards another has very low self esteem themselves. They feel they have to dominate over others to make themselves feel better.

When you are renting with such a person, it can often leave you feeling like you have no choice but to stay. But you DO have a choice. There are several steps you can take to free yourself from this person. Having a domestic violence order is the first step to being safe. If you rent a premises with this person, then you can have them legally removed from the lease. As long as you have a domestic order in place, you can ask professional property managers Brisbane to remove this person from the lease. If they refuse to leave once this step has been taken, then the police can remove them from the premises. You can apply at the magistrates court for a DVO against the person who is violent or abusive towards you. It is for your protection. If he/she keeps up with the abuse after the order is in place, they can be arrested and serve time in prison.

If you live in a rental premises, then you can apply to the Tribunal to:

    • Remove the violent person from the lease
    • Get a restraining order or a domestic violence order
    • Be recognized as the tenant
    • End your lease altogether

If you are not in a relationship of some kind with the other person and they are likely to cause damage to the premises you can apply to the Tribunal to have them removed from the lease and be recognized as the tenant. If you let you Brisbane real estate agent know what is going on, then they can help you with the problem. If you let things go on as they are then its likely that you will be kicked out as well as the person causing the problem. So do yourself a favour and deal with the problem before it gets out of hand.

Abandoned Premises-The Process Involved

Its hard renting out a premises, its even harder when you have tenants that don’t follow the rules of the agreement. The problem with renting out a house or unit is that the tenants may not look after the premises, or may be disturbing the peace and tranquillity of other neighbours. The biggest problem is having your premises abandoned and losing out on rental income during the time it can take for the process to be resolved. You can recoup these losses but if you have a mortgage, then it can put a real drain on the finances especially if the rental loss cannot be claimed on insurance.

There are of course signs to look for to tell if the premises has been abandoned, signs such as unpaid rent, build up of mail or newspapers in the box, observations of neighbours, no household goods present and the electricity, phone and gas has been switched off. These are all signs of an abandoned premises. If this is the case, then your property managers Brisbane can advise you on what needs to be done, they can handle the process for you. If you have rented out the premises privately, then you can apply to the Tribunal to have it declared an abandoned premises. Once you have applied to the Tribunal then notice can be handed to the tenant or attached to the door of the premises. The tenants then have seven days in which to have the notice set aside by applying to the Tribunal otherwise the tenancy will be ended seven days after the notice was issued. If the tenant is not happy with the decision they can apply to the Tribunal within twenty-eight days to have the decision reviewed. If they then find the premises was not abandoned then an order for compensation can be made by the tenant to recoup any expenses that have occurred.

Tenants should always let their real estate Brisbane agent know if they are going to be away for any extended periods of time to avoid the mistaken belief that the premises has been abandoned. If you have family or friends that live close by, get them to collect your mail for you or put in a redirection order to Australia Post, that way your mail won’t sit in your box and give the impression of and abandoned premises. Hire someone to take care of the mowing so the yard does not get overgrown, this is another thing that could lead to the belief of abandoned premises. If you take the time to do these things before you go away then you won’t have problems to come home to.