The old adage “don’t let small problems become big ones” could not be truer when it comes to property. Many big property-related problems start as small, easily addressable items that only grow into big issues because they are left unattended. A small crack in the roof can quickly turn into a flood in the living room and a tsunami of costly damages. 

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, landlords must ensure rented premises are in “good repair”, which means that all elements of the property provided by the landlord as part of the tenancy agreement, including any appliances, are safe to use and properly maintained. 

Spring is a good time of year to take stock of your property and ensure that everything is in good working order. Victorians have been spending an inordinate amount of time at home as of late, so not only have your tenants been spending more time in your property but they have been using everything more too. This, coupled with the fact that several non-urgent items may have been put on hold during Stage 4 restrictions, supports the timeliness of a spring property stocktake. 

Gas & Electrical Safety 

Energy Safe Victoria recommends that gas heaters are serviced at least every two years. It is critical that gas appliances, such as stoves and heaters, are properly maintained, as they pose potential health risks, including carbon monoxide poisoning. When carbon monoxide is consumed, it reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen through the body, starving the organs of necessary oxygen. 

Not all plumbers are qualified to test for carbon monoxide. In strict accordance with the Australian Standards, Plumbing Regulations, Plumbing Code of Australia and local Victorian legislation, only fully licensed gas fitters are legally allowed to test and assess gas appliances for carbon monoxide. Often referred to as a “silent killer”, carbon monoxide is neither visible nor has an odour; therefore, only a trained professional can detect it.  

New provisions within the Residential Tenancies Act have been ‘COVID postponed’ until January 2021 will include stricter minimum standards for rental properties with the safety and well-being of tenants as a focus. 

Pool Fence Legislation 

To improve safety, new pool and spa registration and inspection requirements came into effect in Victoria on 1 December, 2019. Another ‘COVID postponement’ means that from 1 November, 2020, it will be mandatory for owners of land on which a swimming pool or spa is located to register their pool or spa with their local council. The new laws apply to all swimming pools - whether they are permanent, above ground or bathing/wading pools - and spas (or hot tubs) that can hold more than 300mm of water. 

Pool owners are required to engage a registered building surveyor or building inspector (pool safety) to conduct the inspection and issue a compliance certificate. 

Once the pool or spa has been registered, the local council will notify the owners of the due date for the first certificate of pool barrier compliance. Pool owners are required to arrange an inspection and lodge the certificate with their local council by the due date. Owners have until 1 November, 2020, to register their pools with their local council. 

Replacement of Items 

It is the perfect time of year to confirm that the air-conditioning unit is fully functional prior to it being put into summer overdrive. This way, you can reduce expensive call-out repairs further down the track. You might consider installing a ceiling fan to help your tenants save on their electricity bill, the wear and tear of your unit and the environment! 

Other items that may need replacing are window coverings, sprinkler systems, fridges, dishwashers and flooring. 

Value Add

With rental prices struggling under the current market forces, some landlords are opting to upgrade and improve their property in an effort to maintain rental rates and capitalise on tax depreciation opportunities. If you have been considering any upgrades, plan ahead for quotations to be provided once the current restrictions have been lifted or speak to your property manager about the ideas you may have. 

We’re Here to Help 

The good news for landlords is that Kay & Burton’s Concierge service is available to ensure that your properly is not only compliant under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 but that it is safe and healthy for your tenants. From licensed gas fitters and electricians to appliance maintenance and replacement services and registered building surveyors, your Kay & Burton property manager and Kay & Burton Concierge is here to help. They can even arrange a quick, competitive and simple funding solution for landlords, with no application forms!  Solve the small problems now, and hopefully you will avoid any big problems in the future. 

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