Finding the right tenant and building a good relationship with them throughout their tenancy is a crucial part of any property manager’s job.
Here are the top five questions we hear from Brisbane tenants – and the answers we give.
1. Are there laws that protect tenants?
Any residential tenancy comes under Queensland’s Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA). The RTA is a state government statutory authority that provides tenancy information and support, bond management, dispute resolution, as well as investigations and prosecutions. They aim to make renting fair and easy for everyone – landlords, tenants, and property managers – and are a great source of information.
2. How often will my rent increase?
The majority of rental contracts are built on a fixed-term contract. That means within that fixed-term agreement (e.g. six or twelve months), the landlord generally cannot raise the price of rent.
For periodic agreements, the landlord can raise the rent so long as it has been at least six months since the last rent increase (or since the tenancy began) and there must be at least two months’ written notice given to the tenant.
Once a fixed-term agreement comes to an end, tenants may choose to continue renting the property by signing a new agreement. At this stage the landlord is able to raise the rent without serving a notice about the price change, so long as it has been at least six months since the last increase.
If a fixed-term agreement finishes and there is no new agreement signed, the contract simply rolls into a periodic agreement with the same terms and conditions as the fixed-term arrangement. After this point, the landlord can give notice for any rent increases.
3. Who is responsible for rental repairs?
The landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is always in a sound state to live in and in a good state of repair. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the landlord is responsible for every repair cost.
If, for example, the tenant throws a ball and smashes a window, they are responsible for the cost of repairs. If, however, that window becomes dislodged and smashes on its own due to poor building maintenance, then the landlord is responsible for costs.
Repairs are also categorised as either “routine” or “emergency”. Routine repairs cover things like a cracked window or a damaged door, whereas an emergency repair may include something urgent like a burst water pipe.
For routine repairs, the landlord may carry out those fixes themselves or hire someone else to do so. In the event of an emergency repair where the tenant cannot get hold of the landlord, they may arrange for a qualified professional to make the repairs up to the maximum cost of two weeks’ rent.
4. What do I need to know about bond returns?
When the lease is signed and the tenancy first begins, the tenant will need to pay a security deposit (known as a bond) which is held with the RTA. For all general tenancies, landlords can only charge a maximum amount of four weeks’ rent for the security bond. Tenants must ensure they receive a receipt of bond within 10 days.
Once a tenancy comes to an end, tenants must apply for a bond refund through the RTA. There must be an agreement between the tenant and landlord/property manager on how the bond should be paid, and every person listed on the bond must sign the refund form before the funds will be delivered.
The good news is that the Queensland Government has made bond refunds extremely easy with its online RTA Web Services, where bonds can be lodged, refunded and disputed.
5. Are pets allowed in my rental property?
Recent amendments to Queensland tenancy laws mean pet owners will have more ability to rent a property with their animals.
These changes mean that a landlord cannot reasonably refuse a tenant’s request to keep a pet on their rental property, unless the property isn’t suitable for house pets or there are on-site risks to the pet’s health.
It’s not all one-way traffic for tenants, however. Landlords are able to require that tenants with pets meet special conditions. Typically, these will include paying a pet bond (in addition to the standard security bond), or requiring that they pay for professional pest control or carpet cleaning at the tenancy’s completion. These requirements should always be included in writing in the signed tenancy agreement. Tenants should always seek permission for a pet before moving in.
6. Do I need insurance?
Just because tenants don’t own the property, that doesn’t mean they should avoid getting the right level of insurance. The Queensland RTA recommends tenants protect themselves against damage to their contents or robberies by taking out an appropriate contents insurance policy. Building insurance is typically taken care of by the landlord (or Strata).
Your property management specialist
Looking for a property management specialist to take care of your investment property? We can provide the latest advice on changes to Queensland tenancy laws and do all the heavy lifting for you – find out more by contacting the Aurora Realty experts today.