Brisbane agency fined for special terms in tenancy agreement
From time to time landlords ask for a special term to be included in the tenancy agreement for their property, and for the most part these are easy to implement and cause no concern. But the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act is very prescriptive and real estate agents, and especially self-managed landlords, need to be very careful those short few words in a lease aren’t enough to land them in seriously hot water.
The RTA reports the directors of a Brisbane real estate agency have recently been fined $4,200 each after pleading guilty to charges of including unlawful special terms in tenancy agreements.
What went wrong? The agents (it’s unclear if they were acting on client instructions in error) had terms that required the tenants to pay for repairs and maintenance which could generally be considered fair wear and tear. They also wanted to be able to enter the property without notice at the end of a tenancy, and required the tenants to give 6 weeks notice of their intention to end the tenancy, instead of the legally required 2 weeks notice.
These clauses might sound extreme, even for the casual observer. But given the Act requires a tenant to keep the home clean, requiring carpets to be shampooed every 6 months might sound justified. The RTA says that’s illegal and the agency was fined for including it in the agreement.
As always, ignorance of the law is no defence and of course a property manager should be expected to be fully informed on the law. It’s not often we hear about a conviction but tenancy law in Queensland is complex and detailed. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Landlords need to ensure they have the best advice when they look to vary from the standard terms on any tenancy agreement.
What do you think? Should a landlord and tenant be able to mutually agree on terms like these? Or should the law protect tenants?