Guide To Meeting Property Compliance Requirements

Guide To Meeting Property Compliance Requirements

Why is home rental compliance important for landlords?

While it might seem like a hassle, property compliance isn’t something you want to skimp on as an investor.

The truth is that not meeting your compliance requirements can cost you thousands of dollars in legal costs as well as cause a stack of wanted legal consequences.

Let’s put this into perspective: landlords can be charged up to $220,000 if they’re found to have a non-compliance property. Plus, your tenants may choose to make compensation claims if they suffered any damage, harm or injury as a result of your non-compliant property.

By taking your property compliance obligations seriously and getting them sorted proactively, you can:

  • Limit your exposure to risk and potential litigation: the safer your property is, the less likely you are to encounter the legal headaches of a non-compliant rental property.
  • Avoid unwanted costs: hiring a lawyer can cost you anywhere from $200 to $600 per hour if you are found to have a non-compliant property, which can easily add up to thousands of dollars if you have a range of compliance issues to resolve.
  • Keep your rental property in good condition: by meeting your compliance requirements, you’re also practising proactive maintenance and repairs. Not only does this keep your tenants safe and happy, but it also safeguards the condition of your rental for years to come.

Ultimately, being on the front foot with compliance is your ticket to a low-risk, stress-free and profitable investment property.

Window safety

Unsafe windows can be a major hazard to your tenants, especially if they have young children. Unfortunately, around 50 children fall from windows or balconies every year in Australia, with many suffering injuries or even death as a result.

That’s why a key compliance obligation for landlords is to make sure window safety devices are installed to prevent the risk of falling (especially from a height).

But there are a few practical ways you can boost the safety of your rental property’s windows, including:

  • Don’t rely only on fly screens as these are only designed to keep out insects, not hold the weight of a falling child.
  • Install window safety devices on all above-ground windows which will stop the window opening more than 12.5 cm.
  • Move furniture away from windows and the edge of balconies and keep light furniture out of reach of young children.

Blind cord safety

It’s not just windows that can pose a safety risk to your tenants. Curtains, shades and blinds with cords and chains can cause injury and death to young children due to strangulation.

That’s why there are two important blind cord safety requirements that apply to rental property across Australia:

  • Installation: corded blinds must be installed in a way that prevents a loop from forming near the floor level and must be installed in accordance with installation instructions.
  • Labelling: warning labels or swing tags supplied with blinds must not be removed.

Water efficiency standards

Last but not least is another key part of landlord compliance: water efficiency and water-efficient devices.

Leaky taps, dripping shower heads and poorly maintained toilets all need to be repaired and upgraded prior to tenants moving in (or fixed promptly if they crop up during a tenancy). If not, showerheads and taps can exceed the maximum flow rate and expel a high level of litres per minute.

Plus, your property’s water efficiency measures (and evidence that your rental meets the minimum standards for water supplied to your rental) needs to be outlined in your condition report, too.

For a landlord to be able to pass on water usage charges to the tenant, the residential property must be separately metered, meet the water efficiency measures, and the charges must not exceed the amount payable by the landlord (according to the water supplier’s bill or other evidence).

The changes provide additional water efficiency measures, including that all taps and toilets on the property need to be checked at the start of a tenancy so that any leaks are fixed. Taps and toilets must also be checked whenever any other water efficiency measures are installed, repaired or upgraded and any leaks fixed. This requirement applies to existing and new tenancy agreements from 23 March 2020.

From 23 March 2025, all toilets in rented properties must be dual flush with a minimum three-star rating in accordance with the Commonwealth Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme. The WELS scheme uses a rating system to help consumers make informed choices about the water efficiency of products they buy.

Landlords who intend to replace or upgrade existing toilets in their property should consider installing dual flush toilets with a minimum three-star WELS rating to meet the water efficiency requirements by 23 March 2025.

Smoke alarms

The stats show that smoke alarms in homes do save lives: the death rate is more than twice as high in properties that don’t have working smoke alarms.

That’s why a key compliance obligation is to ensure your rental property is fitted with at least one working smoke alarm in a hallway outside a bedroom and on each story of the home.

A practical way to meet this compliance requirement is to schedule an annual smoke alarm inspection. This ensures a professional is visiting your property on a regular basis and keeping your smoke alarms in working order.

Electrical and gas safety

Roughly 40% of house fires in NSW alone each year are caused by electrical faults.

That’s why it’s your responsibility as a landlord to make sure no urgent electrical repairs are needed before leasing out your property. Plus, your property condition report needs to highlight any electrical hazards (such as loose wiring or sparking power points) and confirm that safety switches have been tested and are working.

Landlords must ensure that RCDs are installed in all required areas of the rental property, such as bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor areas, and circuits supplying socket outlets or portable equipment.If an RCD is found to be faulty or reaches the end of its lifespan (typically 10-20 years), landlords must promptly replace it with a new, compliant device.

RCD TESTING AND MAINTENANCE

Regular testing and maintenance of RCDs are essential to ensure their proper functioning and the rental property’s safety. Here’s how to test an RCD:

  • Locate the test button on the RCD, which is usually clearly labelled.
  • Press and hold the test button. This should cause the RCD to trip and cut off the power supply to the protected circuit.
  • If the RCD does not trip, it may be faulty and in need of replacement.
  • After testing, reset the RCD by pushing the reset button or lever

As for gas appliance safety, it’s important that any gas appliances in your property are regularly serviced to keep them in working condition. It’s also important to ensure all devices follow the correct efficiency labelling and standards to remain compliant.

Plus, be sure to check that any gas appliances have been installed by a licensed Gas Fitter to keep your property and your tenants safe.

Ceiling insulation ( Canberra )

Around half of the energy used in an average Canberra home is for heating and cooling. Up to 35 per cent of heat is lost through the ceiling over the colder months in an uninsulated Canberra house.

Installing effective insulation in houses reduces the amount of warmth escaping in winter and the amount of heat entering in summer. This ensures that houses are more comfortable, reducing heating and cooling bills and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The higher the R-value (Thermal Resistance) of insulation the more it slows heat flow and the better it insulates. R5 is recommended for the ceiling and is the standard insulation level used in new builds.

A Regulatory Impact Statement undertaken in 2021 provided initial modelling and analysis exploring various options for an energy efficiency regulation. As part of this research, the introduction of a minimum ceiling insulation standard was found to be the most effective way to increase the energy efficiency of rental properties in the ACT.

Fact sheets

Most of the Canberra properties affected by loose fill asbestos insulation (also called Mr Fluffy) have progressed from removal to renewal. Together with the Canberra community, we are realising the ACT Government’s goal of eliminating Mr Fluffy from Canberra suburbs.

The Loose Fill Asbestos Coordination team continues to support homeowners, tenants and neighbours affected by loose fill asbestos insulation.

The Government’s Register is available here so you can check whether the property you are considering renting is affected by loose-fill asbestos.

Affected properties are also required to prominently display an asbestos management plan which would be visible during inspections.

More information here.

Swimming pools and spas

If your rental property has a swimming pool, you’ll need to make sure its fence is up to the requirements set out in the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

Plus, landlords (like you) will need to provide a copy of your pool’s certificate of property compliance (showing that it meets signage, fencing and other risk regulations) and prove that it’s registered with your local authority.

Decks and balcony safety

As you’d expect, an unstable railing or weathered balcony can cause serious harm to your tenants if left unchecked. And sadly, non-compliant balconies and decks have led to a number of injuries and even deaths across Australia.

When it comes to decks and balconies, your rental property needs to meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australian and relevant Australian safety standards. In broad terms, this means making sure the right materials have been used and that the area can withstand reasonable loads and stresses.

As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to get your property’s decks and balconies regularly inspected and maintained.

A good rule of thumb for keeping your deck and balconies safe is to:

  • Always get the property planning and building approvals from your local council for any building renovations or additions.
  • Only work with licensed tradespeople and always check they have the proper licenses for your state or territory.
  • Book a professional to inspect your balconies and decks on a regular basis to check for wear, tear and serious deterioration.

Locks and security devices

Keeping your property safe and secure isn’t just about boosting the appeal of your rental property. Well-maintained locks are actually a compliance obligation for landlords.

Plus, you need to be across the rules that apply in your local area around altering, removing or adding locks and security devices while your rental is tenanted.

Mould, pests and vermin control

Landlords have an obligation to keep their property well-maintained and free from things like mould, pests and vermin.

From repairing poor ventilation to booking annual pest inspections, these regular maintenance jobs need to be carried out to meet your home rental compliance obligations. Plus, you have an obligation to respond to any tenant requests to fix pest or mould problems promptly.

If not, you’re putting your tenant’s health and safety at risk (as well as jeopardising the quality of your rental property).

Compare listings

Compare