January 2016 Newsletter Articles

Article 1 - Water charging and your rental property

If your investment property does not have an individual water meter, water charges cannot be passed onto to the tenant as per the provisions of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2009. If your property has an individual water meter and is not water efficient, the lessor must pay for a reasonable amount of water.

 

If your property has an individual water meter and is deemed water efficient, the lessor may pass on total water consumption charges to the tenant. It is strongly recommended that a plumber certificate or sufficient evidence is kept on file in the event the tenant disputes that the property is water efficient in compliance with the relevant legislation.

 

The process for water charging will depend on which criterion above your property fits. Water is not a simple matter; regrettably water billing cycles never meet tenancy cycles and as water is an essential service sometimes lessors may end up paying for water bills which would part of the cost of investment.

 

If we are not paying your water rates on your behalf, we strongly encourage you to pass on the water bills received by you to our agency as quickly as possible. We then pass on to your tenants in accordance with the terms of the management agreement. Note whilst there is no set legislation as to when water bills are to be passed on tenants, a recent QCAT decision stated that the Lessor should have passed on such invoices to the tenant within a reasonable period, which they deemed to be 21 days.

 

What is a water efficient rental premises?
A rental premises is considered water efficient if certain water fixtures meet the standards listed in the table below.

Water efficient devices

Minimum water efficient standard required

Internal cold water taps and single mixer taps (excluding bathtub taps and taps for appliances)

A maximum flow rate of nine litres per minute.

Showerheads

A maximum flow rate of nine litres per minute.

Toilets

A dual flush function not exceeding six point five (6.5) litres on full flush and three point five (3.5) litres on half flush and a maximum average flush volume of four litres (based on the average of one full flush and four half flushes).

 

The requirement for taps applies only to internal cold water taps that are installed over a hand basin, kitchen sink or laundry trough (including single mixer taps). The requirement does not apply to other taps in the premises such as bath tub taps, outside taps for the garden, or taps which supply washing machines or dishwashers. These taps are not required to be water efficient. 

How can the lessor/agent prove the premises are water efficient?

At the start of the tenancy agreement, the lessor/agent and tenant should negotiate arrangements for water charging. The presence of water efficient devices should be noted on the Entry Condition Report (Form 1a).

Lessors/agents should be able to demonstrate the presence of water efficient devices where it may be unclear, such as by providing copies of:

  • plumbing reports
  • paperwork from 'Home WaterWise' services
  • receipts
  • packaging
  • warranties or instruction manuals for taps and showerheads, etc.
  •  

For any water fixtures produced from 2005 onwards, the easiest way to check if they meet the required efficiency standard is to look for products with a WELS rating of three stars or higher. WELS is Australia's water efficiency labeling scheme which rates fixtures including taps, showerheads and toilets according to water efficiency - the more stars the better. To find out more about the scheme or search the registered product database, visit www.waterrating.gov.au.

This article written and provided by realestateexcellence.com.au and includes information sourced from www.rta.qld.gov.au

 

 

 

Article 2 - The General Tenancy Agreement – Form 18 (The Lease Agreement)

The Tenancy Agreement/Lease Agreement is a legal binding contract between you as the lessor and the tenant. We as your managing agent act on your behalf and complete and sign all necessary paperwork. Please find as part of this proposal an example General Tenancy Agreement. There are two types of tenancy agreement in Queensland;

A fixed term agreement

A periodic agreement.

A fixed term agreement is a contract which has a definite start date and a definite end date. The tenancy can be renewed to another fixed term agreement at the end of the existing agreement however the agreement does not automatically end on the end date; required notices and time frames or other action must be taken to end the tenancy lawfully. If no action is taken to end the tenancy lawfully or renew the tenancy, the agreement automatically reverts to a periodic tenancy. To end the fixed term agreement, the lessor must provide two months’ written notice to the tenant on or before the end date; but the lease cannot end earlier than the end date unless all parties agree or another lawful action has occurred.

A periodic agreement is a contract which has a definite start date with no definite end date. This is commonly referred to as a month to month agreement. The only difference between a fixed term and a periodic agreement is the ending of the tenancy agreement time frames. A tenant on a periodic tenancy can provide two weeks written notice at any time and vacate the property in two weeks’ time. The lessor is required to provide 2 months’ written notice on a periodic tenancy.

Special Terms to the General Tenancy Agreement

The Tenancy Agreement mentioned above has 44 standard terms which are the law, non-negotiable and must form part of every tenancy agreement in Queensland. Special terms are terms that are not standard terms however can be added to an agreement if they are lawful and do not contract outside legislation.

Under the Legal Professional Act of Queensland, we as a property agent cannot write or draft special terms to a tenancy agreement; only a lawyer or the lessor as a party to the agreement can. In saying that we use special terms from our forms provider outlined in the example provided with the proposal. If you require additional special terms, we will require your written instruction. An example of contracting outside legislation is a request to insert a special term that an inclusion such as a dishwasher will not be maintained or replaced if it breaks down. This cannot be inserted due to the legislative provision of section 185 – the lessor must maintain the premises and inclusions in good repair.