Property owner laws and orders

You've made it! You've climbed over the paperwork, waded through your search, concluded your purchase and your tenant has moved in. You can now just sit back and count your rental returns, can't you? Mmm maybe not.
Rules and regulations
While the percentage of Australians with an investment property hovers around 8% (2,156,319), approximately 71% of this group own just one investment property (1,536,112) and I'll bet the majority of them have zero knowledge of their responsibilities and the regulations that govern how profitable that property will actually be.

Rules that cover property ownership and tenanting are largely set by each State, but Federal and Local Government also have their say in how a property can be used, leased and managed.

Many property investors would probably be shocked to hear that until recently State governments mandated the rents a landlord could charge, meaning some rents remained at pre 1950 levels. It was only after years of lobbying and submissions by owners associations that these regulations were repealed.

Wide reach
The regulations span an extensive number of areas. For example, the Property Owners' Association of NSW aims to monitor and lobby for fairness over the following areas.
  • Review of the Residential Tenancies Act
  • Review of the Strata Schemes
  • The Boarding House Act
  • The Builders Warranty Act
  • Property taxes including land tax and stamp duty
  • Building compliance including health and fire safety
  • Retail leases Act and the short-term accommodation market.
Major changes ahead
Groups campaigning for tenants' rights have significant influence on legislative changes and are continuously working to increase tenants' control over the properties they rent. Ironically, these groups are financed through use of tenancy bonds, as opposed to owners' groups who are self funded.

The tenancy groups in Victoria have had major wins, with Victoria recently overhauling their residential tenancy laws resulting in the roll out of 130 reforms over the coming year. Changes include minimum standards of habitability, limits on the frequency of rent rises, rules about photography and advertising, and allowing minor alterations like picture hooks.

Other reforms cover default permission for pets in rented properties, creating a blacklist of non-complying landlords and rental agents (to mirror the blacklist of 'problem' tenants) and banning rental 'auctions' where prospective tenants are encouraged to offer more than the advertised rent.

However the change generating the most concern is the introduction of the 'no cause' clause – where landlords will no longer be able to ask their tenants to leave at the end of a lease.

NSW is currently debating similar changes including the following.

  • Permitting tenants to make minor changes (such as putting up picture hooks).
  • A limit on the number of rent increases for an ongoing lease to one a year.
  • Making it easier for tenants to get repair orders from the Tribunal (NCAT).
  • New rules around taking (and publishing) photos and videos during inspections, especially where the tenants' possessions are visible.
  • Penalising landlords and agents if they don't provide a tenant with a property condition report at the start of the tenancy.
If you're keen to have your say on the proposed changes or perhaps starting to think it's time you obtained a little more information on the influences impacting your property, check out the property owners' groups in your area.
  • NSW www.poansw.com.au
  • ACT https://www.ratepayersact.asn.au/
  • VIC https://www.poavic.org/
  • SA http://www.landlords.org.au/
  • WA https://www.poawa.com.au/
  • QLD http://www.poaa.asn.au/POAQ/index.php
  • National : http://www.poaa.asn.au/
Note : No active links for Tasmania or the Northern Territory
Author: Debra Beck-Mewing


Debra Beck-Mewing is the Founder and CEO of The Property Frontline.  She has more than 20 years' experience in property investing, Australia-wide and has used a range of strategies to build her property portfolio including renovating, granny flats, sub-division and development. Debra is skilled in identifying development opportunities, and sourcing properties that have multiple uses and multiple exit strategies.  She is a Qualified Property Investment Advisor, licensed real estate agent and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business. As a passionate advocate for increasing transparency in the property and wealth industries, Debra is a popular speaker on these topics.  She is also an author, podcast host, Editor in Chief of Property Portfolio Magazine and participates on numerous committees including the Property Owners' Association.

Follow us on facebook.com/ThePropertyFrontline for regular updates, or book in for a strategy session to discuss your property questions.

Disclaimer – This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice.  We strongly recommend you seek your own professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances.

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