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If you are a first-time tenant or simply wish to know more about rent inspection in Perth, WA, then bookmark this post for a comprehensive reference of everything related to this fundamental aspect of renting a home. If you’re concerned about anything relating to renting your property, it’s best that you go see a lawyer.
As the tenant, you should expect to prepare for a rent inspection for as long as you are staying in a rental property. That said, you should not overlook it and take the time to prepare for it because it will go a long way in helping you avoid possible hurdles.
What is a rent inspection?
In Australia, landlords and property managers have the right to conduct regular checkups of their property. This includes checking for damages and ensuring that the lessee is not breaching any of the terms in the rental agreement.
Since they are still the owner of the premises, this is but one of the regular steps they take to ensure their property is, at least, not being neglected by the tenant. If you are worried about your privacy being compromised, know that landlords will surely acknowledge that it is still someone’s home they are inspecting so they are compelled to exercise forbearance when doing these inspections.
How often can landlords conduct a rent inspection?
While there may be subtle differences in state regulations on the frequency of rent inspections, plenty of states share a lot of similarities in regulations. If you live in Perth, for instance, Western Australia policies outline that landlords can only conduct up to 4 routine inspections every 12 months. Most agents prefer to do it every 3 months.
The same rings true for New South Wales residents, though landlords are usually not permitted to conduct these inspections during Sundays and holidays in the said state. Pretty much a lot of other Australian states share the said policy above, which really hinges a lot on the general privacy laws in the country.
Are there differences in rent inspection frequency and policies in each State?
There are slight differences. In Victoria, landlords are required to send a 24-hour written notice to the tenant instead, but these can only be done once in a six-month period. This is but one of the ways states differ when it comes to rental inspections, but they are noticeably marginal.
Also, take note that some rental agreements might state that if the tenant manages to keep a property clean consistently, the landlord may decide to conduct the inspections more seldom (i.e. every 6 or even 12 months).
How much time will you be given to prepare?
Landlords in Western Australia are required to issue a written notice to the renter between 7 or 14 days before the day the rent inspection will be conducted. For a lot of tenants, a week is already plenty of time to prepare such inspections, but if 14 days is still not enough for you or comes at an inconvenient time, know that you have the right to negotiate with your landlord for a time that is more suitable.
You should be well informed about the exact date and time of the entry of the landlord to the premises.
Can you refuse viewings?
You are not allowed to unreasonably refuse an agent or landlord from inspecting the premises, especially if you have been given notice days 2 to 3 days before. Written notices give landlords absolute entry rights. For a better overview of these rights, take the time to read about them here.
Can an agent take a photo of my property during an inspection?
This is standard procedure in plenty of Australian states but it is by no means done by everyone. There’s a good chance that photo-taking the property’s current state will be indicated in your rental agreement, so do take the time to check there. Most agents are compelled to do it more if there are breaches or damages to the property. And, most of the time, it is done for insurance purposes.
As for your privacy rights, know that taking photos of the property with your belongings included is not a breach as these are not considered as personal information. That is not to say that you can’t object to your personal items being photographed. You can freely ask that your items or sensitive belongings be stowed away first before the inspection. In the end, as long as the photos are taken with a reasonable purpose (like insurance), they should only depict what is necessary to fulfill it.
What do landlords typically do during a rental inspection?
Most of the time, they will only be doing the following checkup procedures once they arrive at the premises:
- Check for the general cleanliness of the property. This means ensuring that essential areas and parts of the house are in good, sanitised condition, including the walls, floors, curtains, carpets, furniture, and equipment found in all rooms like the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom.
- Sign of damages will be inspected as well, ranging from termite damage and water and fire damage to cracks and other signs of deterioration all throughout the premises.
- If there is a garden, the overall health of the plants will be checked as well. This includes the state of the lawn and any trees present on the premises.
- Ensure that the doors and windows are in good working condition, that they can open, close, and be locked smoothly.
- Make sure that bathroom exhaust fans are clean, free of dirt and dust build-up and other blockages; this applies to air conditioners and water filters as well.
- Pinpoint any leakages in the plumbing and leaking taps that can result in more extensive property damage if left unaddressed.
- Any sign of dampness that can lead to molds and wood rot will be checked too, and this includes basements (if there are any) or other areas located under the house.
As you can see, these steps readily reveal that you should really pay attention to keeping the overall condition of the property in tip-top shape prior to the inspection date. Any kind of area you miss might only be noted by the landlord or inspecting agent, leading to a notice to have it addressed. Take note that we didn’t really use the word “fail” in this and for good reason.
What are the Possible Repercussions of a “Failed” Rent Inspection?
It can be easy to get intimidated by these “routine inspections” if it is your first time to rent a property in Perth, WA. This is why we are going to say outright that there is no need for you to worry about, in the same way, that you would probably worry about passing an important test; because it is not like that at all. In fact, the first logical step for you to take is to not worry that you will fail an inspection.
Most breaches are only considered when scenarios like the following occur:
- Pets that are not allowed have been found within the premises.
- The property has been damaged or left in an untidy state.
- Tenants are doing something restricted (like subletting the property through platforms like Airbnb). Normally, this will need the landlord’s consent first.
- The tenant lets other residents live in the property without informing the landlord.
- Doing something that is strictly illegal like making illicit drugs.
Some Perth residents have revealed that certain landlords can fail you even with mundane stuff like visible wipe marks on the surface of furniture. But these are generally rare cases.
Even if the lessor has found that you are in breach of a clause in your agreement, he is obligated by law to give you up to 7 or 14 days (again, this depends a lot on the territory) to remedy the fault or issue that he has noticed during the inspection. A good example of a tenancy agreement that obliges the tenant to maintain the property is found in Clause 63 of this document outlining Standard Residential Tenancy Terms.
Breach claims can be liberally disputed
You also have the freedom to challenge the claimed breach or file a complaint (via email to a relevant authority will do for most cases) should you think that the claim is not at all true or has no valid reason. Keep in mind that, along with the complaint, you may also be charged a fee.
If you are in Perth, WA you can reach out to the state’s Department of Commerce or REIWA (Real Estate Institute of Western Australia) if you want to proceed with your dispute. It is also recommended to send them photos as proof.
What happens if the landlord is still not satisfied?
If even after the 14 days has elapsed yet the landlord still finds the property’s cleanliness or orderliness unsatisfactory, only then will he be allowed to serve a Notice to Vacate or a termination of the rental agreement. Even this move can be disputed by the tenant, allowing you to prove that there is no basis for its termination.
Keep in mind that it is generally rare for a tenancy agreement to be terminated because of a rental agreement breach. This goes to show that most tenants and landlords really make it a point to settle these disputes either with the tenant proceeding to remedy the issue or the two coming to an understanding or agreement.
Incidentally, if you want to learn more about your rental rights, you can do so from this site.
Why are rent inspections usually a hassle for both landlords and tenants?
The challenge of most of these rental inspections really lies in the differences in opinion that may arise between the landlord and the tenant during the inspection. What you deem as “reasonably clean” may not necessarily be the case for the landlord or property manager.
Nonetheless, the landlord definitely can’t just deem you are breaching any terms in the rental agreement out of whim or if the evidence. This is only an exercise in futility that will result in his complaint leading nowhere. That being said, not all landlords are the same. Some tenants have reported that lessors can be a bit forward with their critical comments, especially if they do not find your clean-up to their liking.
This is why a lot of tenants prefer to avoid their landlords altogether during these inspections, which is not really a strategy that we are all too willing to dissuade. Take note that some landlords may even make it a point to request that you be around the inspection, though. After all, most of them prefer to reconnect with their tenants from time to time while others really just want to talk to their tenants face-to-face to relay their initial feedback after the inspection.
Fostering a Better Relationship with Your Landlord is Key
However, it certainly would not hurt to prevent any issue or miscommunication from happening in the first place by taking extra care in cleaning the premises and forming a better lessor-lessee relationship with your landlord. In the end, as long as you prove that you are willing to take care of his property during the entire duration of your stay there, this can already be considered as a good step toward achieving that.
You will probably agree more with these facts once you read about incidences reported in the news like the tenants from hell in Perth. Such scenarios practically make rent inspections a must for a lot of landlords. That is not to say that tenants are prone to landlord harassment themselves, though. These facts only warrant the importance of having the said harmonious relationship with your landlord.
How to Prepare for a Rental Inspection
If you have only started being a lessee in Western Australia, it definitely would not hurt to take the time to learn how to properly prepare for these inspections. At best, it will only let you pass these inspections with flying colours every time.
This also applies to all tenants who are struggling with these regular rent inspections or worry that it can mean that something undesirable is coming. Do not let these presumptions get the better of you. Invest time in reading these tips and always make it a point to remember them. That is all it will take to overcome practically any hurdle that a lot of renters have to put up within the event of a rent inspection.
Know how your landlord or the property manager does the rent checkups.
It certainly will not hurt to be direct and ask from the outset how the landlord will be doing rent inspections since they are virtually already a given in any home rental set up in Perth. Does he perform them in the same way as the standard ways that we have outlined above?
There’s a very great chance that he does; although, it will probably not be exactly the same or done with the same regularity. If not, be sure to ask him how you are supposed to keep his property clean, as well as what his standards, policies, and requirements are.
If you are shy or having reservations, then wait for him to mention it to you. Once he does be sure to grab that opportunity to ask these essential questions. It may not readily cross your mind, but having this initiative will only show how serious you are in keeping his property well cared for during your entire stay there.
This is a good step toward giving him the impression that you want to nourish that “harmonious relationship” we mentioned above. And a lot of long-time renters will definitely back this up, with all the experience they have with numerous types of lessors and landlords.
Maintain a steady line of communication between you and your landlord.
We know how difficult it can be to maintain regular communication with anyone whom we do not really consider as part of our inner circle, but for landlords, it will definitely pay off if you make exceptions. You do not have to go overboard, of course, just be sure to inform him immediately if a certain issue (e.g. damages, technical problems, etc.) has sprung up in the property.
Arguably, this also applies even when there is no scheduled rent inspection. If there are repairs needed, it certainly will only be right to inform him about it as soon as possible. All the better if you can take a picture of the defective or damaged part, furniture, or appliance to send to him.
Communication is also crucial if, for example, you have updated your contact information and have not informed your landlord about it yet. Send him your most recent contact information (e.g. phone, e-mail) the moment you are informed of a coming rent inspection. Obviously, this is done out of courtesy and is especially recommended if you will not be around personally during the inspection.
Do your own detailed inspection of the home before the actual one.
If there is one step that you really should not miss if you do not want your rent inspections to always go smoothly every time, this definitely tops the list. After all, how could the landlord possibly beat a tenant that is just as a meticulous (if not more) in inspecting than he is? And considering the relative seldomness of these inspections in the first place, wouldn’t this be well worth investing your time in the end?
Ultimately, you should regard these inspections as extremely beneficial for you as well since it readily entails making sure the property is still favorable for habitation. It only keeps you safe from possible accidents that might arise from faulty wiring or plumbing, for instance. Also, it directly promotes sanitation, which only ever leads to marked improvements in disease mitigation. Surely, these benefits are well worth the time and effort?
Once you decide to do this, you have to take note of every defect or issue that you spot so you can easily relay it to the landlord. If you find anything in need of repairs, note them all down as well. Afterwards, if the lessor obliges you to fill out maintenance request forms, then do take the time to do this as well.
How to Do Your Own Home Inspection
We are going to say outright that this will take time, though, at most, this can be done for half a day or less, depending on the size of your home. Knowing what landlords usually look at when they do rent inspections, you should have, more or less, an inkling of the areas that you need to check.
The question, of course, is how you are going to do this, to the point that you will not be missing anything. This is why we have prepared the following checklist for you. As long as you can confidently answer yes to the following questions, then you are pretty much good to go.
- Walls – Are the walls free from any presence of wear and tear, particularly growing cracks and dampness?
- Lights – Are all the lights in good, working condition? Can they be turned off and on smoothly? Are the cables still intact and showing no damage? Have you cleaned all the switches?
- Floor – Are the carpets properly cleaned and free from any dust, debris, or traces of spillage? If you have floorboards instead, have you ensured that no parts are creaking once you tread on them? Are their edges not coming up or beginning to peel off?
- Kitchen – Has the oven been thoroughly cleaned? Can you say the same for the refrigerator and the microwave? Are the taps and their plumbing not dripping and leaking? Are they not producing any unusual sounds? Are the cupboards, tiles, and counters free from dirt, grime, and other debris in all spots?
- Bathroom – Have you checked the sinks and plumbing for leaks? Have the tiles been scrubbed? Has the toilet and shower screen been sanitised?
- Bedroom – Are the walls and floorboards also free from cracks and any sign of deterioration? Are the doors and windows (sliding or otherwise) opening and closing smoothly? Is the place relatively tidy, free from any rubbish lying around?
- Exterior areas – Has the lawn been cut and the garden freed from the presence of weeds? Is there no presence of cobwebs in any areas like the patio or garage? Can the main entrance door be used and locked and unlocked properly? If a fly screen is present, has it been wiped of any presence of dust and grime? Is the garage relatively tidy with no signs of clutter or rubbish?
Nothing less than a careful eye is needed to spot all the issues and defects that might be found in any of the areas and parts said above. This is why even if we said this might take half a day, we did not mean it as an absolute fact. You have to allot time for reinspections as well or possible areas that might need a more thorough inspection.
Some Parting Advice
It certainly would not hurt to take the time to develop a harmonious relationship with your landlord, especially if you have found the place to be to your liking and intend to stay there for an extensive amount of time.
This will only be good for both of you in the long run. It is only apt that this relationship should always be founded on respect and just and fair treatment for both parties. Regardless of whether the rent inspections are regular or sporadic, aiming to do this will only let you think of them as less of a hassle than they really are. And, with their benefits for you consider, can you ever really say that they are an inconvenience?