It’s not easy to find a rental in Hobart at the moment, as the vacancy rate is low in Tasmania’s capital city. But that doesn’t mean tenants have to settle for just anything or that owners can offer substandard accommodation. Australia’s minimum standards for rentals are there to ensure some consistency where it really counts. Baxton Property Management discusses what’s now mandatory in rentals.
The regulations haven’t been around long – they first kicked in during August of 2015, and the last of them came into effect this year. The emphasis is not on fancy frills, or attractive design. Their intention is to ensure that tenants’ basic safety and health needs are met in exchange for their rent.
What the Minimum Standards Cover
The list of minimum standards set a baseline on rental premises being both weatherproof and structurally sound, as well as clean and in good condition. In addition there must be a safe and working electricity system, adequate lighting, hot and cold running water, and a waste management system for sewerage. But the standards don’t stop there:
Ventilation: Lack of fresh and unpolluted air can provide serious health hazards. The regulations therefore specify that all rooms have to have windows or other openings that account for 5 percent of the room’s surface area. If a room doesn’t have windows, it must open into a room which meets the requirements, or have a suitable exhaust fan in the case of laundries, bathrooms or toilets.
There is a catch (literally). The tenants must be able to open the windows, but a fastening must make it impossible to open them enough that someone could climb through them. And owners must include window coverings in the bedroom or living areas of the rental.
Heating: There are those who love an open fireplace, and it might even help attract tenants. Owners don’t have to rip it out, but because of environmental and safety concerns, it is not considered as a suitable heating measure. A fixed gas or electric heater, heat pump or wood heater must be installed in the main living area.
Cooking facilities: There has to be a stove with an oven, and at least two cooking elements, or three if there are more than two bedrooms in the rental.
Smoke alarms: All rental premises must have smoke alarms which comply with certain standards and are functional at the start of each tenancy. Since last year, ones powered by ordinary batteries are no longer acceptable. They must instead work off the mains or be powered by a non-removable 10-year lithium battery.
Ablutions: The premises must include a separate bathroom with a washbasin and shower or bath, and a flushable toilet.
Exceptions to the Rules
Rental property owners can apply to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner for exemptions from some of these demands., provided it does not disadvantage the tenant, and the owner can prove the premises meet the intention behind the regulations, even if it’s done slightly differently.
While the minimum standards requirements don’t ensure tenants get a temporary palace for their rent dollars, they do go a long way to prevent tenants from being given a hovel with a high price tag. Property Management specialists like Baxton in Hobart know the importance of safe and healthy rental premises. Part of the service they offer rental property owners is ensuring repairs and maintenance are carried out to ensure the required standards are upheld. Browse Baxton’s website for more information on what property management is all about.
Written and syndicated by
– Baxton Media.
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