Calls for more transparency in rental tenancy agreements

Danny Russell, owner of Elite Cleaning with team member Rebeka Hinchcliffe attend to upwards of 20 homes per week. Picture: Kieren L.Tilly.
Danny Russell, owner of Elite Cleaning with team member Rebeka Hinchcliffe attend to upwards of 20 homes per week. Picture: Kieren L.Tilly.

A rental-home-turned-drug-lab has prompted warning calls for tenants and landlords to be aware of the legalities they face when signing tenancy agreements.

Disorderly tenants in Wagga could find their names on a national database if they do not return their rental home in the condition it came when they first moved in.

It comes after a local man found his investment property was turned into a meth lab, scattered with used syringes after a real estate agent unknowingly leased his home to an addict.

Tenants are given 14 days notice before they are placed on the database, according to Vickie van Heuzen from PRDnationwide, and steps can be taken to avoid making it on the list.

“When a tenant goes into a property, they’re given a condition report which clearly states how the property is presented at commencement of the lease,” she said.

“They get a detailed report which lists what the walls are like, the floors, the carpet and so forth.

“When they vacate a property, the expectation of residential tenancy law states that the property is to be returned in the same condition it was given, less fair wear and tear.”

Fair wear and tear can vary in every situation, Ms van Heuzen said, and can depend on factors like how many years a tenant has been at the property or if children lived at the premises during any period.

Allowing fair wear and tear, every tenant is required to hand the property back in the same condition that it was documented when they moved in, Wagga Property Management director Dave Skow said.

“Fair wear and tear are things like light scuff marks and general use of the home,” he said.

“Anything that can be cleaned should be cleaned. That goes all the way through to light fitting and shades, windows and window tracts, ovens, bathrooms, toilets and floors.

“Usually when a property comes to us for the first time, we urge the owner to hire a professional cleaner.”

Cleaning companies are often the final point of contact when it comes to bringing a rental home back up to professional standards.

Most tenants are “pretty good” when it comes to cleaning their home, DannyRussell owner of Elite Cleaning said, but there is a small minority of people who leave their home in disarray.

“We as cleaning companies have to cover every inch of every surface so that it’s satisfactory for people to move into,” he said.

“That includes common things like light fixtures and benches to more difficult things like cleaning the vents out of air conditioners.

“For extreme jobs, we’ll usually go in and spray the whole house with a disinfectant to make sure we kill all the germs before going in and doing the actual clean.

It’s the same old principle, Mr Russel said, of if you receive a home in a certain condition, “you should return it in that condition”.

Though it isn’t uncommon for items in final home inspections to be missed or not attended to, both agents agreed that tenants should be given an opportunity to fix up anything they may have left behind.

For extreme circumstances if tenants don’t come back and they have damages owing to more than the total of the bond amount, then that is when they could find themselves on the national tenancy database.

“All property managers want to give an opportunity for a tenant to go and rectify or remedy something that has been broken or damaged because ultimately, we would love to go in and sign off on properties,” Ms van Heuzen said.

“It’s very easy for a tenant to pick up the phone and say look, I’ve stained the main bedroom, can you have a look at that for me? I’m not sure what to do.

“We will give them the guidance needed for them to try and remedy any problem.”

“It’s not uncommon when we do the first-final inspection to see some things that have been missed or not attended to properly,” Mr Skow said.

“Typically, we always give the tenant the opportunity to go back and rectify anything they’ve missed.”