LANDLORDS will have to provide operating manuals for every electrical item in their houses and take more responsibility for abandoned goods under likely changes to SA's Residential Tenancies Act. They will also have to provide greater notice to tenants before entering homes and greater care black-listing bad tenants on industry databases.
Speaking at a REISA (Real Estate Institute of South Australia) property management conference late last month, REISA Compliance Adviser Ray Brincat outlined some of the changes expected to become legislation in the first quarter of 2014. He explained they are designed to bring SA in line with other states and told the crowd there were more than 100 changes to the Act to navigate, with breaches for compliance rising to as high as $10,000 in some cases.
Below are some of the major changes Mr Brincat explained. REISA will be providing fact sheets and workshops on the changes in coming months.
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■ Manufacturer's manuals: Landlords will have to provide manufacturer's manuals or operating instructions for every piece of electrical equipment on their property.
''This can be quite complex for furnished properties,'' Mr Brincat says.
''It includes everything - dishwashers, entertainment systems, swimming pool pumps, retractable blinds, watering systems, smoke detectors - even the kettle.
''Even a 30-year-old gas heater will need operating instructions.''
Mr Brincat suggests landlords with items such as older heaters will need to have qualified electricians visit to write out operating instructions for them.
''If you don't provide the manual and the tenant unintentionally damages the appliances, the landlord will have difficulty obtaining compensation for the damage,'' he says.
■ Abandoned goods: Currently under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are required to wait two days after a house is vacated and make ''reasonable attempts'' to notify the former tenant of the goods' existence.
Mr Brincat suggests landlords make a full list of all property left on the site and arrange a valuation, keeping all records in case of future issues or legal action. A landlord is potentially exposed to a maximum penalty of $2,500 if they do not deal with abandoned goods in the correct way under the provisions of the revised Residential Tenancies Act.
■ Rights of Entry: In some instances, landlords will have to provide seven to 14 days' notice to tenants ahead of entering a property. Furthermore they will only be allowed to visit between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Saturday (with no Sunday or public holiday call ins).
Mr Brincat says this will mainly affect landlords who regularly visit their tenants in person to collect rent.
''Instead of saying 'I'll come every Monday fortnight at 7pm, they will technically have to provide notice of every visit,'' he says.
■ Real estate industry databases: Many property managers contribute to statewide databases listing bad tenants.
Under changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords and property managers will have to notify prospective tenants that they will be checking their applications against these databases. They will also have to provide the prospective tenant with information on how to go about being removed from the database if requested.
''There are also changes to who you can list,'' Mr Brincat says. ''If a bad tenant's bond covers damage to a your property you cannot put them on a bad tenant database.''
When putting people on the databases, Mr Brincat says landlords and property managers will also be required to leave their own name and contact details as well as reasons for the listing.