Disclaimer: These comments are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the current opinions and policies of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.
Most of us have rented a property and called it home for at least part of our lives. Students sharing a rambling old home, newly-weds, recent divorcees, those awaiting the completion of a renovation, relocating company executives, are but some reasons for renting. Indeed, as “affordability” issues render owning a home more difficult in recent times, more people are likely to lease a home for extended periods rather than own it.
Therefore, most of us have had to deal with the Residential Tenancies Act. The Act underwent a recent review and all key changes are now in place.
Noteworthy is the standardization of the residential tenancies lease, a single document that must be used for each tenancy agreement entered into. Landlords and/or their agents can only inspect their properties up to four times per year and are also now required to ensure adequate security provisions are provided with the property too. Property Condition Reports are now also standardized to ensure reasonable accuracy.
Understanding the workings of the Act, especially given recent significant changes to the law is not straightforward and property owners ought to rely on the expertise of local REIWA agents for advice on tenancy matters. A recent court decision fined a private Landlord $24,000 for breaches of the Act and, as we know, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Owners of rental properties do, on occasion, misunderstand the role of their Managing Agent, forgetting that they have limited access to their property and can’t control the behavior of third parties, including the tenant. Sometimes, Landlords who return to their properties after years of leasing it seek to blame their agent for deterioration which is simply reasonable wear and tear.
In fact, day-to-day management issues reveals that the actual role of the property manager is to manage the tenancy within the terms of the lease and the law rather than managing the property itself. This makes sense considering that it is the tenant that lives in and by-extension manages the property.
In essence then, it is the tenant that is charged with the daily task of looking after their property and the agent is there to ensure the tenant does so to a level expected of them under the terms of the lease and within the confines of the law.
by Hayden Groves
REIA Deputy President