Who is responsible for what in a rental property?


When it comes to looking after a rental property, there’s a few different elements involved. Between the occupier, the owner and the property manager, each party has responsibilities that include the financial side, keeping the property in good repair, and protecting it against damage.

Here’s a quick guide to who is generally responsible for what aspects of a rental property.

The financial side – rent, mortgage and rates

A rental property is a bit like a business, with incomings and outgoings.

There’s the rent which is collected weekly from the occupier for the privilege of living in the property and there’s then costs that the owner pays.

Owner costs include property management fees, mortgage costs and charges such as council rates or body corporate expenses.

Who’s responsible?

  • Rent – the occupier
  • Mortgage, rates, and/or body corporate – the owner

The bond

At the beginning of a rental agreement, the property manager will collect a bond from the occupier. This bond usually equates to about four weeks’ rent and is set aside as a safeguard in case the property is damaged by the occupier or they fail to pay the rent.

All going well, the bond is returned in full at the end of the agreement. While the occupier is responsible for coming up with the bond, the property manager is responsible for lodging it with the correct entity.

Who’s responsible?

  • Paying the bond – the occupier
  • Lodging and returning the bond – the property manager

Repairs and maintenance

Ongoing repairs and maintenance preserve the value of the property and keep it in good condition. Conducting repairs and maintenance is the responsibility of the owner, but it’s the duty of the occupier to notify the property manager if something needs repair.

Who’s responsible?

  • Flagging things in need of repair – the occupier
  • Organising repairs and maintenance – the property manager
  • Budgeting and paying for repairs and maintenance – the owner

Cleaning

As the resident at the property, it’s the occupier’s responsibility to keep the property tidy and in good order. This includes general cleaning.

Who’s responsible?

  • Cleaning – the occupier

Lawns and gardens

Unless specified in the rental agreement, the occupier is also responsible for ensuring the lawns and gardens at a property are kept neat and tidy.

In some instances where the property is large or the garden is extensive or intricate, the owner may opt to organise lawn and garden maintenance as part of the agreement.

Who’s responsible?

  • Lawns and gardens – the occupier (unless otherwise specified in the rental agreement)

Pest control

Pest control is another of those areas which can either be the responsibility of the owner or occupier, depending on the circumstances.

For example, routine pest control to mitigate the risk of cockroaches, ants, spiders, and termites tends to be the responsibility of the property owner.

However, if the rental occupier has a pet at the property, the rental agreement might specify that flea treatment needs to be undertaken when the occupier exits the property.

Who’s responsible?

  • Routine pest control – owner
  • End of agreement pest control – Occupier

Pool maintenance

If the rental property has a pool, the occupier is generally responsible for everyday maintenance such as clearing leaves and running the filter.

The owner may then opt to include regular maintenance in the agreement which covers chemical testing, with the occupier required to pay for chemicals required.

Who’s responsible?

  • Pool cleaning and maintenance – the occupier unless otherwise specified in the agreement.

Mould

Mould can be damaging to both a property and the health of its occupants, and it’s something that both the occupier and owner should work towards mitigating.

In this instance, both the owner and the occupier are responsible for taking all reasonable measures to reduce the likelihood of mould. In other words, occupiers should ensure bathroom fans are turned on while showering, and windows or doors in the laundry are open when using a dryer.

Owners should ensure these areas are well ventilated, and if mould occurs due to an event such as a roof leak, water leak or natural disaster, they should take the necessary steps to have the mould removed.  

Who’s responsible?

  • Mould mitigation – The owner or the occupier, depending on the circumstances.

Occupier damage

If a rental occupier accidentally or maliciously damages a rental property, they are responsible for having that damage remedied.

In fact, malicious damage to a rental property is considered a serious breach, with the occupier either required to foot the bill for fixing it, or risk that money being taken from their bond.

Who’s responsible?

  • Accidental or malicious property damage – Occupier

Light globes, tap washers and smoke alarm batteries

In any rental property there are minor things which will likely need replacement over time, including light globes, tap washers and smoke alarm batteries, and who covers what can vary depending on the circumstances.

In general, occupiers are responsible for changing lightglobes, unless specialised equipment is required. They are also responsible for ensuring smoke alarm batteries are replaced when necessary, but the owner is responsible for annual smoke alarm compliance checks.

Meanwhile, the replacement of tap washers tends to fall under the category of plumbing, which the owner is responsible for.

Who’s responsible?

  • Light globes – the occupier, unless specialised equipment is required
  • Smoke alarm batteries – the occupier
  • Smoke alarm checks and compliance – the owner
  • Tap washers – the owner

Insurance

There are different types of insurance that apply to a rental property, and there are two different parties responsible for it.

The owner should have landlord insurance, building insurance and public liability in place, while the occupier is responsible for insuring their possessions via contents insurance.

Who’s responsible?

  • Landlord, public liability and building insurance – the owner
  • Contents insurance – the occupier

Utilities

Unless otherwise specified, the occupier is responsible for paying for the ongoing use of utilities at the property, such as gas, electricity, internet and telephone.

Water, however, might be slightly different. The owner can opt to pass on water charges for the property as part of the rental agreement, but is generally billed for these by their local authority.

Who’s responsible?

  • Utilities – the occupier (unless otherwise specified)

How we can help

Our experienced property managers pride themselves on establishing great relationships with both rental occupiers and owners.

We manage every property as if it were our own and you can learn more about our property management services here.

Alternatively, if you are looking to rent a property, you can view the properties we currently have available here.