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Australia - Property Letting

You may find it necessary to let out your Australian property for various reasons. It could be that you have found the perfect home for you, but you are a little way off actually moving to the country. You may then decide that rather than passing up on your dream home that you buy the house and rent it out until you are ready to move into it yourself. Alternatively, you could buy a second home solely to rent out and earn a little income from it. However you find yourself needing to rent out the property there are several things you will need to arrange first, although there is no requirement for a licence.

You must decide if you are going to use a letting agent or if you are going to manage the property yourself. It is not compulsory to use a property management company, although for a small fee, it will make things much easier for you. This is particularly so if you have more than one property you wish to rent out. A property management company can help you with every aspect of letting you property, from advertising to finding a suitable tenant to simple maintenance of the property. A property management company will also deal with the financial issues, including collecting in the rent and dealing with problems such as unpaid rent, utilities charges and any problems the tenants themselves may have. These can be very time consuming activities, and if you are not in the country or have a very hectic work schedule then relying on a property agency to deal with these issues could be your best course of action.

As a landlord you must abide by the rules laid out in the Residential Tenancies Act of 1995. The responsibilities of a landlord in Australia are generally the same from state to state and include maintenance of the property. All repairs should be organised in a timely manner so as not to cause unnecessary disruption to the tenant. The property must be first provided in a clean and reasonable state of repair at the start of the tenancy. Landlords must also ensure that their property is suitably secured and all locks are in good working order. Landlords must pay the taxes and rates associated with the home, similar to the UK council taxes. At the start of the tenancy the landlord must furnish the tenant with copies of the inspection certificates to show that the house is maintained to a suitable standard and a copy of the lease agreement. As a landlord you must also ensure that every financial transaction is properly receipted and records of finances properly maintained. Not meeting your responsibilities could mean that you lose your tenant at cost to yourself.

When you are advertising for a tenant you should state how much rent you are charging, but you must bear in mind that some Australian properties fall under a rent control order and legally you cannot charge more than this amount. Rent controls are determined by the property’s condition, location and property amenities. Rent control classifications are reviewed every year although they can be amended at any time by improvements being made the property, or if average rents for the area the property is located in change then a new assessment will be made.

Having a lease agreement is a standard procedure in Australia. This document lists rules and conditions that must be met by both the landlord and the tenant and will include the amount of rent to be paid and the terms under which the payment should be made, for example on the first of every month, weekly, landlord collects the payment or payment to be made into a bank account. It will also outline the length of tenancy; long term lease agreements are usually for a minimum of 12 months. There should also be an inclusion into the tenancy agreement with regards to pets, subletting and any areas that may be excluded from the tenancy, such as garden or parking spaces. Changes can only be made to the tenancy once signed if both parties (landlord and tenant) agree to the changes. The lease must include the landlord’s name and address. Failure to do this or to give a copy of the agreement to the tenant can result in fines up to AUS$500.

The landlord has limited rights to the property while there is a tenant in place. This is because the tenant has the right to live in privacy and peace. This includes areas such as gardens, garages and sheds, as long as these are areas covered under the tenancy agreement. If an area is excluded from the tenant’s use, such as a garage, then the landlord can enter whenever they need to. Written notice is required by the landlord to the tenant to enter the property. At least 48 hours’ notice is required to gain access to the property in cases of maintenance and repairs, although in an emergency no notice is required. Frequent property inspections are allowed, although no more than once every 4 weeks and only after a written notice period of 7 to 14 days has been given to the tenant. The landlord can attend the property to collect rent, only if this has been outlined on the tenancy agreement and the tenant agrees. This cannot happen more often than once a week.

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