What Can – And Can’t – I Ask Tenants In My Rental Property?

As a landlord, you’ll have lots of questions for tenants and prospective tenants.

But first, you need to know what you can and can’t ask.

The Residential Tenancies Act

You need to be familiar with the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA). This details your rights and responsibilities, and those of your tenants, and should answer any questions you might have. An experienced property manager can also clear up any concerns and explain anything that’s unclear.

Importantly, the Act states that you cannot discriminate against tenants because of their race, gender, sexuality, age, disability or marital status.

However, there are plenty of questions you can and should ask.

What questions can you ask?

When deciding if a tenant is suitable you need to ask certain questions via a rental application form. So what can you ask?

  • Personal details: name, phone number and current address for all applicants.
  • The number of people planning to live at the property.
  • Details about previous rental history. This includes the address of the previous property, amount of rent paid, the period the property was rented for and the reason for leaving.
  • Employment status and job details for all adults on the application, such as their job, name and address of their employer, the period of their employment and their net income.
  • For each applicant, the name and contact details for personal referees, next of kin and emergency contact.

You can also ask:

  • “Have you ever been evicted?” If the answer is yes, there may be issues you’ll want to follow up to determine how this could affect your lease agreement with the person.
  • “Do you have any pets?” If you decide your tenants can keep pets at the property, they must be included on the lease. The lease should also state whether pets can be kept inside or must remain outside. You can also charge an additional “pet bond” of up to $260 to cover any extra cleaning when the property is vacated.

What can’t you say?

Once your tenants have moved in, there will be times when you still need to communicate with them either personally or via a property manager. Here’s a list of things you can’t say or ask.

  • “I was just driving by. Can I come in?” For routine inspections, you need to give seven to 14 days’ written notice. For necessary repairs and maintenance, you must give 72 hours’ written notice.
  • “That repair will be made once you move out.” Urgent repairs to essential services, such as sewerage or gas leaks, or a dangerous electrical fault, must be attended to within 24 hours and there could be times when a tenant needs to organise a repairer themselves. For other urgent repairs, the timeframe is 48 hours.
  • “You need to move out by the weekend.” There are strict laws about giving tenants notice to vacate. The minimum time frame depends on the circumstances, including whether the lease is periodic or fixed term. See the state government website for more details.
  • “The rent is going up next week.” Again, the law determines how often you can increase rent depending on the type of tenancy. More information can be found here.
  • “I’ve already looked for you on a tenancy database.” You’re legally obliged to give tenants written notice before searching for information about them on a tenancy database. You need to let the tenant know which database you intend to use, along with database operator contact details and how information can be obtained from the database operator. If you find information about your tenant or prospective tenant on a database, you must inform them of this within seven days of using the database.

Have any questions about property management for your investment property? Contact the experienced team at Rentwest today.

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