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Greater responsibilities for landlords

Landlords have greater responsibilities to their tenants following a raft of new changes to South Australia’s Residential Tenancies Act 1995, according to leading landlord insurance specialist, Terri Scheer Insurance.

Terri Scheer Executive Manager, Carolyn Parrella said that the changes to the South Australia Residential Tenancies Act 1995 came into effect on 1March 2014.

“It is important for all landlords to understand the changes to the legislation,” she said.

Ms Parrella offers the following tips to help landlords navigate their way through the new legislation.

Make paperwork a priority

“Keeping detailed records of tenancy agreements together with relevant supporting material will help landlords fulfil their obligations with the changes to the legislation,” Ms Parrella said.

“Under the changes, landlords must keep copies of written tenancy agreements for at least two years after the end of the agreement.

“Landlords must also provide tenants with operational manuals for all domestic electrical appliances at the start of a tenancy.

“This includes air conditioners, dishwashers, smoke detectors and any other electrical equipment at the property.

“Landlords will need to show they have taken reasonable steps to provide this material for tenants.

“For example, if they can’t provide the manual for a particular item, they’ll need to consider obtaining a qualified professional to help write out specific instructions for them.

“The appliances and supporting manuals should also be listed on the tenancy agreement.

“If the tenant accidentally damages the appliance, it’s listed on the tenancy agreement and the operating instructions were provided, it could result in a damages claim against the tenant.”

Other changes include:

  • Landlords or property managers must notify potential tenants if they use the Residential Tenancy Databases (RTD).
  • Before entering into an agreement, landlords must advise prospective tenants if they intend to advertise the property for sale during the tenancy.
  • Landlords cannot increase rent (for an agreement entered into on or after 1 March 2014) until at least 12 months after the start of the tenancy agreement or when the last rent was increased.

Appointing a property manager

“Appointing a property manager can help landlords to meet the new requirements as a result of the changes to the legislation,” Ms Parrella said.

“The time and effort that property managers can save landlords as well as the experience and knowledge they provide can be well worth the cost for their services.

“A property manager can assist landlords to ensure the correct paperwork is in place, monitor arrears, conduct regular property inspections and liaise with the tenant on behalf of the landlord.”

Tailored landlord insurance

“For landlords, the changes to the legislation highlight the importance of protecting yourself and your property,” Ms Parrella said.

“Landlord insurance provides landlords with piece of mind if the unforseen should occur.

“When a claimable event does happen at a rental property, the onus will ultimately be on the landlord to prove the loss.

“A landlord should consider a tailored landlord insurance policy that covers them for both malicious and accidental damage, their legal liability and the loss of rental income.

“A standard building and contents insurance policy generally won’t cover landlords for many of these risks.”

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