TenantsTips / Australia / Is my rental property secure?

Is my rental property secure?

When you rent a property you will need to ensure that the premises benefits from a ‘reasonable’ level of security. This article takes a look at security for tenants, including tenant and landlord responsibility.

Tenants Tips outlines the basic security measures that should be implemented to ensure you are living in a safe and secure environment.

What is a reasonable level of security?

The law does not define ‘reasonable security’ and therefore ‘reasonable security’ is a term that is loosely used with regards to safety within a property. With that in mind reasonable security can be considered a matter of common sense, and tenants are advised to address any security problems with their landlords. At a basic level ‘reasonable security’ includes things like locks that work properly, keys, and windows that open and lock correctly. If you think that something within the premises is not secure make a note of it and ask your landlord for advice.

What are the landlord’s security obligations in a rental property?

A standard residential tenancy agreement states that the landlord is committed to upholding the following:

 

  • To keep the premises secure.
  • To check that locks and alarms are maintained as necessary.
  • To supply each person living in the property with keys to any outhouses/ sheds or other parts of the property.
  • Not to charge tenants for copies of keys.
  • Not to alter any locks without a viable reason or unless you agree to the change.
  • To give you a copy of any key from a changed or new lock within 7 days of the change.

 

What are the tenant’s obligations?

Tenant’s obligations include the following terms:

 

  • Not to change or modify locks or other security device without a genuine reason.
  • If they have any lock changed that they will inform the landlord and supply them with a key within seven days.

 

Can I change the locks?

Changing locks: Acceptable reasons:

Acceptable circumstances for altering, removing or adding a lock include:

 

  • In the event of an emergency.
  • Under an order of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.
  • A co-tenant has moved out.
  • If a tenant has received an apprehended violence order.

 

Copies of keys do not need to be given to the other party if:

 

  • An order is made stating that a copy should not be given.
  • There is a violence order in place.
  • They agree not to be given a copy.

 

Changing locks: Unacceptable reasons:

It is unlawful for either a tenant or landlord to change the locks on a rental property:

 

  • Without mutual agreement.
  • Without a genuine and valid reason.

 

If your locks are changed without your knowledge you can seek advice from your local advice centre for tenants.

Can I apply for a security order?

Yes, you can apply to the tribunal for an order if your landlord refuses to acknowledge security issues.

You can apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for orders about:

 

  • The general security of a rental property.
  • Changing locks.
  • Compensation for property damaged or lost as a result of insecure premises.
  • Rent reduction for the period when a property was not secure.

 

Contact your local advisory service for advice about making an application.

Orders regarding acceptable security:

Tenants can apply for an order that the landlord ensures that a premises is reasonably secure. However, the application must be made within 3 months after you become aware that the premises are not reasonably secure.

The tribunal will consider the following when making an assessment of security:

 

  • The physical properties of premises.
  • How insurance companies calculate risk at the premises.
  • The chance of risks to your personal safety and the possibility of robberies.

 

When you attend the tribunal you need to provide evidence to support your argument that the property is not ‘reasonably’ secure. Forms of evidence include:

 

  • Information from an outside source which proves potential security risks to the property.
  • Insurance policies and quotes relating to the property.
  • Anything you have which serves a record of the security problem.
  • Photographs in support of your argument such as faulty locks, broken locks.

 

Security orders:

You can apply for a security order at any time during your tenancy but you must explain to the tribunal why the order is necessary.

Security orders:

 

  • That you may add a lock.
  • That you may withhold from giving your landlord or agent a copy of a key.
  • That your landlord must give you a copy of a key.

 

NB: Remember that landlords can also apply for such orders.



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