Landlords FAQs

Q: Who is responsible for Smoke Alarms

A: By law, owners of all houses and units in Queensland must install at least one smoke alarm.

Homes built or significantly renovated since 1997 must have hard-wired (240 volt) smoke alarms, while homes built prior to 1997 must have at least one 9 volt battery powered alarm.

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service recommend the use of photoelectric smoke alarms as they are particularly responsive to smoldering fires. They are also less prone to nuisance cooking alarms.

 

Fast facts

  • The tenant must: Test and clean (by vacuuming or dusting) each alarm every 12 months
  • Replace any flat or nearly flat batteries
  • Advise the lessor/agent/manager if there is any issue with the alarm (apart from batteries)
  • The tenant must not remove a smoke alarm, remove the battery (other than to replace it) or do anything to reduce the effectiveness of the alarm (e.g. paint it)
  • The lessor/agent/manager must:
  • Install smoke alarms
  • Test and replace any flat or nearly flat batteries and clean the alarm within 30 days before the start or renewal of the tenancy
  • Replace the alarm before it reaches end of life
  • The lessor must not remove a smoke alarm, remove the battery (other than to replace it) or do anything to reduce the effectiveness of the alarm (e.g. paint it)

Please talk to your Property Manager to arrange the service when needed to comply at a low annual fee which also now includes the testing of safety switches.

 

Q: MAINTENANCE – VITAL TO PROTECT INVESTMENT AND TENANTS?

A: One of the most vital factors for property investors to consider is the importance of maintenance schedules or systems for their rental property.

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act (RTRAA) requires that at the start of a tenancy, a residential property should be clean, fit for a tenant to live in, that the premises and inclusions are in a good repair, and the landlord is not in breach of any health or safety law.

Property managers have a clear legal responsibility to tenants to be diligent about property condition so landlords must be prepared to commit to an ongoing maintenance schedule and any ongoing costs associated with this.

As with your own home, a certain amount of wear and tear is unavoidable. During a tenancy, property managers may recommend a repairs and maintenance program to a landlord to ensure the property remains in its best condition.

Examples of planned maintenance can include budgeting to paint internally every five to seven years; cleaning gutters regularly; ensuring adequate tiling in the kitchen, laundry and bathroom areas; replacing floor coverings every seven to eight years; continually assessing the security features of the property; and annual termite inspections.

Landlords should also consider conducting repairs that will effectively reduce or prevent continual “breakdown repairs” which are both unexpected and unbudgeted.

To ensure the safety of tenants, and to reduce the likelihood of small maintenance problems becoming big serious ones, it is critical that your Property Manager has a reliable maintenance system in place.

The system should begin with the initial notification from the tenant, which is followed through to payment for completion of the work by a licensed professional who has adequate professional indemnity and public liability cover.

When it comes to emergency or routine repairs, it is best practice for property manager to seek written instructions from the landlord – unless they have been instructed to proceed with repairs up to a certain expenditure limit.

It is also a legal requirement that your Property Manager keeps you informed of any developments or issues in relation to your property.

Under the RTRAA, emergency repairs include situations such as a burst water service or a serious water service leak; a gas leak; a dangerous electrical fault; flooding or serious flood damage; or serious storm, fire or impact damage.

Your Property Manager is legally required to take immediate action to effect emergency repairs and must act on routine repairs within seven days of being notified by the tenant.

 

Q: MOULD – What is mould and who is responsible?

A: Conditions for Mould Growth in Houses

Besides oxygen and organic materials containing carbon to provide nutrients, the other main requirement mould needs to grow is moisture. You can find mould growing almost anywhere provided there is enough of a moisture source for it.

Mould problems cannot develop in houses unless there is a moisture problem. The moisture accumulation might be caused through humidity, condensation, or water intrusion from leaks, spills, floods, etc. Most moulds only require suitable materials to be wet for 24-48 hours before they can grow.

Moulds that can survive using only humidity as their moisture source are called Xerophilic, whereas other moulds require an accumulation of moisture to grow. Indoors the best way to prevent mould growing is to limit moisture.

Besides moisture, mould also needs the temperature to be right before it can begin to grow. Mould grows best in temperatures that we would consider warm, however there are some mould species that can even grow in temperatures as low as 2 degrees Celsius. If a mould colony’s environmental conditions become unfavourable,

instead of dying it can lay dormant until conditions become right again when it can continue to grow.The Act does not make specific reference to mould, but it does detail requirements about the standard maintenance of a property throughout the agreement.

 

Fast facts

  • It is the responsibility of the tenant to notify the agent or lessor of any serious/extensive mould problem.
  • If the mould is a result of an issue in the premises, such as a roof leak, it is generally the lessor’s responsibility to clean the mould and make any repairs necessary to maintain the property in good repair.
  • At the first sign of any problem, your Property Manager will discuss the issue with the tenant and report to you and recommend how to fix the problem.

 

Q: LIGHT BULBS – who is responsible for supplying or replacing light bulbs?

A: Fast facts

It is not specified in the Act who is responsible for supplying or replacing light bulbs.

Common industry practice is that the lessor/agent/manager is responsible for maintaining specialized bulbs, and the tenant/resident is responsible for the replacement of everyday bulbs.

The tenant and lessor/agent/manager should discuss this at the start of the tenancy and agree who is responsible for maintenance or replacement of light bulbs. This should be detailed in the tenancy agreement.

If changing a bulb requires specialist knowledge or specialist equipment, changing the bulb may be part of the lessor/agent’s responsibility to maintain the premises.

The provision of light bulbs should be specified in the Entry Condition Report.

 

Q:  My neighbour owns the tree. What can I do about overhanging tree branches?

A: The common law right of abatement remains – you may continue to remove any overhanging parts of the neighbour’s tree, but you no longer need to return those parts.

You now have an option to provide your neighbour with a Notice for overhanging branches requesting their removal. If your neighbour has not responded to the Notice for overhanging branches within 30 days, you may remove the branches yourself or arrange for someone else to cut and remove them. You can then recover up to $300 from your neighbour to contribute to these costs.

If you trim overhanging branches of your neighbour’s tree yourself or ask your Agent to arrange for a contractor to get the work done, you do not have to return branches, roots or fruit which you have trimmed from the neighbour’s tree but you can do so.

If necessary, you can apply to QCAT to recover up to $300 from the tree-keeper as a minor debt. Before making an application, visit http://www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au (http://www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au/ ) for more information on resolving the dispute without legal action.

Trees and QCAT orders

Q: What sort of orders can QCAT make in tree disputes?

A: The safety of all parties is the main consideration for QCAT. Depending on the dispute, orders may include maintenance of a tree, compensation for affects of the tree, replacement of the tree or removal of the tree (as a last resort).

Q: My neighbour is not complying with the QCAT order. What can I do?

A: Monetary decisions can be enforced through a Magistrates Court.  Non-monetary decisions can be enforced through the Supreme Court.  You may also seek assistance from your local government authority once QCAT has made a decision.