Renting a property can be a stressful time – especially when those dreaded property inspections come around. As a tenant, it can definitely be agreed that rental inspections seem to happen way too frequently. And most times, it causes an absolute headache because many people don’t know what’s expected of them or what their rights as a tenant are.
At some point in their lives most Australians will rent a home and thus, rental inspections are inevitable. But it doesn’t mean to say you can’t enjoy comfort and privacy because someone else owns the property! No one likes excessive interference by the owner or landlord and this is why tenant rights are in place to stop it happening.
There are many easy ways to prepare for a rental inspection, like cleaning checklists and getting started on those chores early – but the most helpful thing to know and understand before an inspection what your rights as a tenant are. We delve into the top 6 below.
1. When Should the Landlord be able to perform the property Inspections?
Whilst the landlord and agent have the right to enter your property to carry out inspections, there are certain rules and regulations that still apply. In order for the owner or agent to enter the property, reasonable notice to the tenant must be given clearly stating why and when they intend to enter the property. Unless it’s an emergency, or adequate notice is given unannounced visits by the owner, agent or anyone acting under their instructions (for example, tradesmen) aren’t permitted to enter your home.
Other reasons for entry by the landlord or agent, in addition to a rental property inspection can include; a valuation of the property, to show prospective buyers or financial lenders, to show potential tenants (if you’re vacating) or if they have reason to believe you’re damaging the property or causing nuisance.
2. How Often Should Rental Inspections Occur?
One general inspection should be made by the agent in any six-month period (but not within the first three months for the first lease agreement). Whilst this can definitely seem like too much, it’s important from the owner’s perspective to know that the property is being well looked after. The time frame in this six-month period can vary between different states and rental companies but on average it tends to be every three months.
In Western Australia, the most common time frame for rental inspections is every three months. Other states and countries however, often opt for an inspection every six months. Whilst it would be much more convenient for most tenants having it only every six month, it’s definitely not abnormal for it to be in a shorter time frame.
3. How Much Notice Does the Landlord Need to Give?
Adequate notice is absolutely essential when it comes to any property inspection, and any other time the landlord or agent wish to enter the property. Both the landlord and the agent must remain observant of your right as a tenant to live in your home in peace and privacy and thus, written notice in advance is a must.
For the purpose of rental inspections, 7-14 days of prior notice will need to be given to you before the inspection can take place. Whilst this time is fairly standard across all agreements, some tenancy agreements can provide a scope for the owner to “contract out”, if they feel less notice is to be given. The best way to find out if this is applicable to you, is to check your rental agreement under section 46 and 82 of The Residential Tenancies Act. For maintenance and repairs, the required notice can be as little as 72 hours in advance (written).
4. Am I able to Refuse Entry?
Yes! If the agent or owner of the property, or anyone asked to come to your home on their behalf wants to enter without prior agreement or giving appropriate written notice, you have the right to refuse entry. Unless agreed upon otherwise, rental inspection can only be carried out by the agent between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm weekdays, or between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm on a Saturday. Rental inspections cannot be performed on a public holiday. If the agent or owner should come outside of these agreed times, as the tenant – you have the right to not let them in. If any arranged time doesn’t suit you, you can ask your agent to reschedule another time to find something that fits with you both.
5. What is considered a ‘Reasonable Time-Frame’ for an Inspection?
If the owner has given you the right amount of notice for the inspection, there’s no consent required on your behalf for them to enter. That being said, they do need to come at a reasonable time, as mentioned above. The time an agent or landlord spends at your home also needs to be reasonable – enough time to do the inspection, but no longer than necessary.
The landlord or agent inspecting your home need to appreciate that you and your family or friends are living in the property. Thus, the inspection is not considered a “housework” inspection. It should be fairly brief and only be in place to make sure your home is being looked after.
6. What Can the Landlord Inspect?
Landlords conduct routine property inspections to ensure the lease agreement is being met and that the property is being kept in a reasonable state. To prepare, you should make sure your home is clean and well presented. To inspect the property, your landlord or agent should simply be walking around the inside and outside to gauge how well it’s being maintained.
It is against the privacy act for the landlord or agent to look inside cupboards, pantry or built in wardrobes. They are not to go through your personal belongings but are only there to check out what’s in plain view. It’s normal too, for the landlord or agent to take pictures of the how your home is being maintained.
Whilst there is absolutely no requirement for you to be present at a rental inspection, some tenants do prefer to be at home. The agent and landlord cannot stop you from being at an inspection or ask you to leave so it’s simply a matter what works best for you or what makes you and the people you live with feel most comfortable. Many tenants find that by being present at the inspection, the landlord or agent will be much quicker and less intrusive.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Asset Focus – Perth’s Leading and Best Property Inspection Company offering routine house and rental property inspections. You can catch her on Google+.