‘The Lucky Country’ for renters depends on which state/territory you live in.
Australia, the lucky country. Yet, as a landlord or tenant, the luck can depend on where you live.
Each state and territory in Australia has its own tenancy legislation. That’s eight sets of rules for tenants and landlords to live by. There may be some similarities but each one is distinct. So if you own property in different states or you’re a tenant that needs to move interstate for work, you need to be well versed in the tenancy legislation of each state.
So what gives?
On January 1 1901, Federation day, The Commonwealth of Australia was formed. That day a new constitution created a Federal Government with powers and rules and thus a new nation was born, the Australia we know and love.
Even though we have a federal government, each state retains the power to have its own constitution and its own legislature, so in terms of residential tenancies that means eight sets of legislation.
So what are some of the differences?
It’s understandable that each state has different financial requirements and expenses. So how it collects taxes, such as stamp duty and land tax will vary, and it does. Using the March 2016 figures from Australian Bureau of Statistics, the mean value of dwellings in Australia is $613,900. Buying a residential investment property at this price, the stamp duty ranges from $19,155.00 if you bought a property in the ACT to $31,904.00 in VIC (This is based on buying an established property as an investment. ACT=$19,155.00, NSW=$23,115.50, NT=$30,388.05, QLD=$20,650.50, SA=$27,930.00, TAS=$23,088.25, VIC=$31,904.00, WA=$23,175.25).
Cooling off period
Two states in Australia do not have a cooling off period requirement when you buy a property, the others allow the buyer between 2 and 5 days to cool off with a maximum penalty of 0.25% of the sale price, except the Northern Territory where there is no penalty at all.
In four states there is no requirement to have telephone, television or internet cabling installed (however if any of these services are already installed, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure they remain in working condition). In the ACT the landlord must provide a telephone line and in SA the landlord needs to provide the installation of all three services. In Tasmania and the Northern Territory there is no mention of any requirements.
Tenant Holding Deposits
Some states have elaborate conditions on the amount, length of time and penalty when a tenant pays a holding deposit for a rental property. Whilst in the ACT a holding fee cannot be accepted, in Victoria, the holding deposit must be returned regardless of the outcome and in the NT there are no requirements and at all.
Maximum Rent in Advance
The rules in each state vary from two weeks to one calendar month. In Victoria it also depends on the amount of rent being paid and whether it’s weekly or not.
Tenant’s notice to vacate – (not fixed term)
14 days (NT, QLD, TAS), 21 days (ACT, NSW, SA, WA) and 28 days (VIC).
Landlord ending a periodic lease – (not fixed term)
If a landlord wants possession of their property back, other than for a breach of the lease, the amount of notice required to issue to the tenant ranges from TAS – 28 days, NT – 42 days, ACT & WA – 8 weeks, Vic – 60 days, QLD – 2 months, NSW & SA – 90 days.
In Tasmania and Western Australia, a landlord can issue a ‘notice to vacate’ giving the tenant 14 days to vacate the property when a tenant is 24 hours late in paying the rent. And if the tenant in Western Australia is continuously late the ‘notice to vacate’ can be reduced to 7 days. In other states and territories, a tenant needs to be either 7 or 14 days in arrears before a ‘notice to vacate’ can be issued. If a tenant fails to pay the rent up to date by the time the notice expires, the landlord can apply to the tribunal/court to evict the tenant.
So if you’re a tenant in genuine trouble you could be facing eviction in as little as 8 days. On the other side of the fence as a landlord you could be out of pocket a minimum of 4 weeks rent if your tenant has decided to stop paying rent (and usually much longer given the time needed for notices to be served). It all depends on which state the property is in.
Access to a tenanted property
In an emergency, if you own a property in Victoria, you must give the tenant 24 hours’ prior notice before you can enter the property without the tenant’s consent. All other states, in an emergency, allow the landlord to enter the premises without consent and with no prior notice.
Access for other reasons, such as routine inspections, the required prior notice that needs to be issued to a tenant ranges between 24 hours and 14 days.
These are just some of the difference. So it seems that as a landlord the rules of conduct toward your tenant can vary greatly depending on which state your investment property sits. And your rights, as a tenant, also depend on what side of the border you live in.
In an age where the efforts to create equality have made such a powerful difference to the way we live, it seems at odds with that history that a tenant in Albury has different rights to a tenant in Wodonga.
George Astudillo is the founder of Property Quarters, an agency that values communication and great relationships with its landlords.
George now has more than 30 years in real estate, including 15 years as the owner of a national real estate franchise. He’s also an accredited auctioneer and is the author of “The Landlord Mindset”, a book with his best tips to help landlords look after their investments. His book has been quoted in the SMH, The Huffington Post and The Age.
As the founder of Property Quarters, George takes great care in looking after his landlord’s investments. Having seen it all and worked with may landlords and tenants, he’s a strong mediator and negotiator and knows how to navigate through property legislation.
George is trusted by his landlords to advise on the financial management of their investments. He’s put in place proven processes to ensure each property he looks after is managed effectively to retain its value, quality tenants and rental income.
If you’re looking for a property manager who thinks like a landlord and whose business is built on tested processes, contact us by clicking HERE.
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