At the end of October, the UK press announced greater protection for renters thanks to plans to overhaul health and safety standards for rental accommodation. New Zealand rental property standards also go further in protecting tenant health and safety. And those are just two global examples. Many in the industry believe it’s only a matter of time before we see minimum standards coming into effect nationally here in Australia. Would you be ready if that happened?

For the past three months Queensland property managers, tenants and landlords were given the opportunity to have their say on proposed reforms to the state’s 40-year old residential tenancy laws. A primary focal point of the review in Queensland is minimum housing standards on the back of potentially serious health and safety concerns in some rental properties coming to light. The Victorian Government also recently introduced proposed rental reforms to parliament, including changes to minimum standards for rental properties

The UK decision sets the benchmark for what should be a basic human right for everyone, no matter where they live – the right to feel safe and secure at home. The UK Minister for Housing announced plans that include:

  • Tightening health and safety standards for rental accommodation, and
  • Identifying “rogue landlords” who turn a blind eye to dangerous conditions on their property.

Would you be ready if minimum standards were imposed?

With the shift for more tenant rights a hot topic, especially as increasing numbers of people are renting these days due to the national housing affordability crisis, it begs the question, would you be ready if minimum standards were imposed in your state or nationally?

A growing number of Australian and New Zealand property managers are recommending that their landlords have a PropertySafe inspection report done once every two years (more than 500 agencies and growing by the day). Paid for for by the landlord and completed by fully licensed and insured safety inspectors, the detailed report is sent to them electronically and details all safety hazards and maintenance issues identified inside and outside the property. The report also recommends a suitable course of action for each hazard identified.

Of the approximately 40,000 rental properties inspected to date by PropertySafe inspectors, 99.1% had at least one safety issue identified and 76.7% had at least one major safety hazard that could cause severe injury, illness or death. For any major risk identified, the property manager is notified to ensure the issue can be rectified as a matter of urgency. For less urgent issues, it is up to the landlord to decide whether or not they want to take action. The ultimate purpose of the residential safety inspection is to create awareness around potential safety hazards for tenants and to mitigate the very real risk of personal injury claims made against you, your agency and/or the landlord.

While there is no Australian standard for residential safety inspection yet, PropertySafe inspections are considered best practice for this type of service based on research of the current National Building Codes; Australian Standards for Glass, Electrical, Smoke Alarms, Pool Fencing and Curtain Cords; The Monash Report on Slips, Trips and Falls; and the Slips, Trips and Falls Final Decision RIS report. Click here to learn more.

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