Considering managing your own investment property? You might wish to think again.

Hello to You All,

The legal frame work and potential litigation surrounding property management has become so complex it is a wonder that anyone who does not have a very detailed understanding of the laws surrounding residential tenancies would wish to manage their own rental property. As a real estate agent with decades of experience in dealing with all the legislation, I myself do not even self-manage my own investment properties. 

An owner of a residential rental property who self manages is bound by the same laws as a qualified real estate agent and has a legal obligation to follow those laws when dealing with a tenant.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 alone has 227 sections all of which a landlord who self manages must be fully conversant with. It takes many years working in the property management industry to grasp the complexity of all of the laws and legislation let alone trying to understand it when it is not your core background. 

To complicate matters even more a property manager must also be conversant and abide by the Civil & Administrative Tribunal Act, the Anti-discrimination Act, the Strata Schemes Act, the Community Schemes Act, the Work Health and Safety Act and the Swimming Pools Act. 

When dealing with a rental property it makes no difference whether the owner manages the property or a real estate agent manages the property, both must follow the legislation in all of the above Acts.

This all starts from the day you commence advertising and show your property to a prospective tenant. There laws relating to processing a tenants application, anti-discrimination, bond lodgement, laws relating to ingoing reports both written and photographic evidence of the properties condition at the commencement of the tenancy etc.

The list goes on once a tenant is in the property with laws relating to the collection of rent, smoke alarms and health and safety and ongoing maintenance of the property.

In my experience all of this seems irrelevant to most landlords until there is an issue with the tenancy that ends up in the Residential Tenancy Tribunal or worse still may become a Civil Court matter in the event of an injury or death at a property. Defending a claim can be very complex and time consuming and the legal preparation of any defence must follow the guidelines of NCAT. Accurate records of events over the period of the tenancy will need to be made available along with evidence that all of the laws have been followed relating to that particular claim or defence.

Most real estate agents that manage rental properties have very detailed software programs that contain data storage for records of conversations, maintenance, rent, bond, and word documents etc. all of which are in a format that when used in a defence meet the guidelines for NCAT.

I can only suggest that if you intend on self-managing your investment property then ensure you have a very, very strong understanding of your legal obligations and strictly follow them, because if you don’t and things go wrong the management fees you think you are saving will be minute to the costs you will endure defending a case you may eventually lose due to a failure to follow the relevant Acts.

Kind Regards

Michael Gray