#AskAPropertyManager – your questions, answered by our experts

Property managers are confronted with a variety of complex issues on a daily basis, making it difficult for them to stay abreast of the rules and regulations they must abide by.

The REIQ’s Property Management Support Service (PMSS) allows members working in the property management sphere to ask industry professionals the tough questions that their colleagues may not have the answer for.

This month, we have taken some of the most common questions asked by our members and presented them to Selinda Randall – REIQ Trainer and PMSS team member.

REIQ Trainer and PMSS Team Member, Selinda Randall.

With more than 25 years’ experience in the real estate sector as both a senior property manager and a licensee, you can trust the expert advice and answers provided by Selinda.

Q: CAN WE ISSUE FOUR WEEKS NOTICE TO LEAVE FOR PROPERTY BEING SOLD IF THE LEASE IS DUE TO EXPIRE WITHIN THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS BUT IS FIXED TERM AT THE MOMENT?

Selinda Randall:  In short, no. The four week notice timeframe for terminating a periodic tenancy when there is a sale only applies to tenancies that are currently periodic, and cannot be applied when a fixed term tenancy still exists, even if that fixed term tenancy is ‘almost’ at an end, or ‘almost periodic’ .

There is no special provision in the RTRA Act that allows the lessor/agent to end a fixed term tenancy as a result of the sale. Therefore, any notice to end the fixed term tenancy would simply be a normal two months ‘without grounds’ notice.

This means that even if the notice is served, say, one month before the end of the tenancy, or even on the last day of the fixed term, the tenant must still be given two months’ notice even though that notice period in each case will clearly run past their original tenancy end date.

The other option to end a fixed term (or periodic) tenancy in a shorter timeframe would of course be to negotiate a mutually agreeable end date, in writing, signed by all tenants and the lessor (or managing agent based on client written instructions).

Q: WHO PAYS FOR PEST CONTROL?

Selinda: This question will always come up about who is responsible as the RTRA Act does not specify which party is responsible for pest control. The parties should reach agreement about the obligations of each.

The lessors’ obligations are to provide a property that is clean and fit for the tenant to live in with appropriate regard for the health and safety of the tenants. In terms of pest control, it would be reasonable to expect the lessor to provide a property that is not infested with pests and vermin.

The tenants’ obligations are to keep the property clean during the tenancy and to not cause damage. So, in terms of pest control, it would be reasonable to expect the tenant to not do anything likely to cause or attract pests and vermin, and to pay for pest control where their actions have caused the property to be exposed to pests.

It is best practice to state what the lessor agrees to in the terms of the Form 6 when they first appoint the managing agent. It is also best practice to clearly state the tenants’ obligations on the Form 18a Tenancy Agreement.

Q: DOES A NEW FORM 6 NEED SIGNING TO INCREASE FEES?

Selinda: Section 90 of the Property Occupations Act 2014 (the Act) effectively provides that an agent is not entitled to sue for, recover, or keep for reward an amount for expenses that is more than the amount stated in the Form 6.  As we are aware, the Act does not have a mechanism to allow parties to vary the Form 6 after it has been executed. Consistent with section 90 of the Act, it is reasonable to assume that an agent cannot recover a fee from a client unless it is expressly stated in the Form 6. If an agent wishes to increase their fees, they will be unable to recover them unless they have completed a new Form 6.

Property managers – do you have more questions? Email pmsupport@reiq.com.au or call 3249 7347 to speak to a member of our Property Management Support Service team.

Are you reading this and aren’t currently an REIQ member? Individual membership is just $204 per annum, and provides access to not only the Property Management Support Service, but also a wide range of discounted training courses, products and services, along with exclusive access to members-only resources.