Common law dictates that landlords have a duty to guarantee the safety of rented property and its contents. Of utmost importance is that no injury or damage is caused to the tenants, neighbours or public as a direct result of the landlord neglecting his/her responsibilities.
In addition to common law there are regulations specific to rental properties - these fall under the landlord responsibilities and must be followed to the letter.
Landlord responsibilities include:
Maintaining the structure and exterior of the house
Ensuring all 'installations' are working, such as gas, electricity and heating
Installation and appliance maintenance and safety. Please note: only applies to landlord-owned appliances
Treat potentially health-threatening issues such as rising damp
Anything else that's stipulated in the tenancy agreement
In addition to these more general landlord responsibilities, each Australian state and territory has its own specific requirements:
Australian Capital Territory
Before the commencement of the tenancy agreement, the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the Office of Fair Trading booklet 'The Renting Book'. It's available from the Office of Regulatory Services: http://www.ors.act.gov.au/. When your tenant pays you the bond monies you're obliged by law to issue a receipt, and lodge the money with the Office of Regulatory Services - you have two weeks to do this. One of your additional landlord responsibilities is to issue your tenant with two copies of the 'Conditions of Premises Report' within one day of moving in. Your tenant must return this form to you within two weeks, cataloguing their agreement/disagreement with the report.
New South Wales
In NSW, landlords must provide tenants with a copy of the 'New tenant checklist' available on the state's Fair Trading website before both parties sign the rental agreement. Fines can be applied if the correct procedures aren't followed to the letter. Landlords must also make sure they're up-to-date on what qualifies as both direct and indirect discrimination, fair trading laws, and good practices. Ninety days' notice is required if no new lease has been signed following expiry of a fixed-term agreement.
A Northern Territory landlord is obliged to provide new tenants with the Department of Justice's 'A Guide To Renting In The Northern Territory'. A downloadable PDF version is available on the government department's website: http://www.nt.gov.au. In conjunction with the tenant moving in, it's the landlord's responsibility to:
Organise the tenancy agreement
Provide the tenant with a copy of the agreement
Complete a condition agreement in the presence of the tenant
Provide the tenant with a copy of the condition report
Sign the tenancy report once it has been reviewed and signed by the tenant
Provide the tenant with a copy of the report signed by both parties within seven days
A landlord who doesn't follow these procedures - or any other requirements detailed in the Northern Territory's Tenancy Act - could face a penalty of up to $11,000.
According to Queensland's Residential Tenancies Authority, the landlord's responsibilities include ensuring that the premises are fit to live in and in a good state of repair. Security must also be of a reasonable standard, with a key to each lock provided to the tenant. When tenancy is assumed, no other person or their property should be in the premises. Landlords must also take care not to interfere with the tenant's peace or use of the property - if they do need to enter the property, advance written notice must be given.
Self-managing landlords in South Australia will find the state's expectations of property owners and tenants detailed in the Residential Tenancy Act 1995 and the online booklet 'Renting: A Basic Guide'. Fundamental responsibilities of landlords include: providing and maintaining the property in a clean and reasonable standard; giving proper receipts and maintaining records of all transactions pertaining to the tenancy; paying council rates and taxes; maintaining locks to ensure the property's security; and lodging the bond with the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs (OCBA).
In Tasmania, landlord duties and obligations are determined by the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 and Residential Tenancies Regulations 1998. Before a new tenant moves into a property or signs a tenancy agreement, the landlord's required to provide them with a copy of the booklet 'Renting in Tasmania'. It details the rights and responsibilities of both parties according to the Tasmanian Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading. Landlords are strongly recommended to complete, in writing, a tenancy agreement along with a condition report, security deposit, and rent in advance. Landlords must give tenants between 14 and 28 days' notice to end a tenancy.
Consumer Affairs Victoria's comprehensive booklet for tenants and landlords 'Renting a home: a guide for tenants' is available online at: http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au. The state has strict guidelines regarding when a landlord is permitted to enter their rented property. The landlord can enter a property at a date and time agreed with the tenant. However, the agreement must be made within seven days prior to entering. The landlord can give the tenant 24 hours notice of intent to enter the property to:
Carry out duties listed in the tenancy agreement or the state's Tenancy Act;
Value the property
Show the property to prospective buyers
Show the property to prospective tenants (provided it's no more than 14 days before the current lease termination)
Confirm a reasonable belief that the tenant's remiss in their duties outlined in the rental agreement
Make one general inspection in any six-month period - excluding the first three months of the tenancy
Do-It-Yourself landlords in Western Australia are required to provide their tenants with a copy of the form 'Schedule 2 - Information For Tenants (A Statement of your Rights and Duties)' along with the rental agreement. In addition, landlords should ensure they review the guide carefully themselves. The form is not intended to replace the state's Tenancy Act, but it will give a good working knowledge of responsibilities in regard to: use of premises; discrimination; urgent repairs; fixtures; payment of rent and rent increases; the owner's right of entry; and rates and taxes.
The information contained in TenancyCheck.com.au website is general information only and does not constitute legal, financial or compliance advice. As the laws relating to tenancy agreements may have changed we recommend you check with the relevant State or Territory government department. We also recommend that you obtain your own independent legal advice about matters relating to landlord obligations, tenant rights and any legal disputes you may have with a tenant(s).