Home Info Centre Your guide to minimum standards for rental properties in Australia
Your guide to minimum standards for rental properties in Australia
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Your guide to minimum standards for rental properties in Australia

14 Mar 2023 7 mins read

Before starting a tenancy, the property must be safe, secure, reasonably clean and reasonably fit to live in. Is that it? No! These are just the fundamentals. Legislation goes much deeper into the minimum standards of rental properties and landlords and agents must adhere to them… or they may end up in hot water.

Minimum standards – what exactly does this refer to? Well, when it comes to rental properties, minimum standards are a level of quality that is thought to be acceptable as a minimum, and below which is unacceptable.

While a property doesn’t need to be in ‘perfect’ condition, minimum standards help to enhance the quality of rental housing in Australia and ensure safety and security for both tenants and landlords.

If a property does not meet minimum standards before or on the date a tenant moves in, tenants can end their lease before moving in or they can request an urgent repair. It can also impact landlord insurance and whether a claim is paid or not.

Let’s discuss insurance a little more…

Those managing a rental property are responsible for keeping it in a reasonable state of repair and ensuring it complies with building, health and safety laws. If a landlord or property manager fails to do so, it can mean a reduced payout or denial of an insurance claim. For example, if there was a break-in, and a burglar vandalised a home causing damage to walls and ceilings, the repairs may not be covered if it was found that there were not working locks on the doors (which is a minimum standard in many states). Same goes if a person falls into a pool that is not fenced in line with regulations – if that person sustains bodily injury, the liability claim is likely to get knocked back by an insurer. This is because safeguards were not in place to protect and maintain the property (and tenant).

Ultimately, when managing a rental property, you must manage it in line with state and national legislation. Therefore, it is important to meet minimum standards to ensure both tenants and the property are safe. It also helps to reduce the risk of further damage and loss to a property.

Now, what are the minimum standards of rental properties? To make it a little difficult, it differs from state to state. But, we are making it easy. Below, find an easy-to-read digest on current state legislation, what makes a property uninhabitable and steps to stay compliant with regulations regarding pools and smoke alarms. Scroll through the below article to find the state that your property is located it.

Want a downloadable guide to minimum standards for rental properties in Australia? Click here!

Victoria

In Victoria, minimum standards apply to rental agreements that started after 29 March 2021 AND started before 29 March 2021 and roll over into periodic agreements on or after the same mentioned date.  

The minimum standards are divided into 14 categories and all rental properties must meet the standards for each category.

  1. Locks – the property’s external entry doors must have functioning deadlatches or be fitted with locks that can be unlocked with a key from the outside but can be unlocked without one from the inside.
  2. Bins – landlords must supply a vermin proof rubbish and recycling bin for the tenant to use.
  3. Toilet – a working toilet must be in a separate room in the property, either by itself, or in an appropriate room like a bathroom or in a combined bathroom-laundry. It must be connected to an approved sewage or wastewater system.
  4. Bathroom – a rental property’s bathroom must have a washbasin and a shower or bath and be connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water.
  5. Kitchen – the property must have a kitchen with a dedicated cooking and food preparation area, a working sink and a working stovetop with two or more burners. If it has an oven, this must work.
  6. Laundry – if the property has a laundry, it must be connected to hot and cold water.
  7. Structural soundness – the property must be structurally sound and weatherproof.
  8. Mould – the property must be entirely free from mould caused by (or related to) the building structure.
  9. Electrical safety – on 29 March 2023, the electrical safety rental minimum standard will commence. The electrical safety standard requires that rental properties must have modern style switchboards, with circuit breakers and electrical safety switches installed. Landlords are responsible for ensuring their rental property complies with the electrical safety standard by engaging a licensed or registered electrician.
  10. Window coverings – windows in rooms likely to be used as bedrooms or living areas must be fitted with curtains or blinds that can be closed, block light and provide privacy.
  11. Windows – all external windows in a rental property that can be opened must be lockable. They must also be able to be left open or closed. 
  12. Lighting – inside rooms, corridors and hallways must have access to light to make the areas functional. NOTE: These requirements do not apply if the property is registered under the Heritage Act 2017 and has an approved exemption from the standard.
  13. Ventilation – the property must meet the appropriate ventilation requirements of the Building Code of Australia, which are different for different kinds of properties. You can search resources in the Australian Building Codes Board resources library.
  14. Heating – rental properties must have a fixed heater (not portable) in good working order in the main living area. From 29 March 2023, the heater must also meet energy efficiency standards. 

In addition, legislation states that smoke alarms must be fitted, swimming pools must have a barrier (one that is maintained) and if the property is in a bushfire zone, the landlord must provide a clean and full water tank at the commencement of the tenancy agreement.

Please note, the above is not an exhaustive list of minimum standards in Victoria. For a more detailed list, visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, the Residential Tenancies Act states that a rental property must be fit for habitation. The seven minimum standards clarify what ‘fit for habitation’ means. The property must (as a minimum):

  1. be structurally sound
  2. have adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room, except storage rooms or garage
  3. have adequate ventilation
  4. have electricity or gas and an adequate amount of sockets
  5. have adequate plumbing and drainage
  6. have a water connection for hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning
  7. have bathroom facilities, including a toilet and washing facilities that allow users privacy.

In addition, landlords need to ensure that smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order. A penalty applies for landlords who fail to comply. Landlords and agents are also required to ensure that smoke alarms are repaired – including change of battery – within two business days. Lastly, before a property with a pool can be leased it must have a recent (within the last three years) certificate of compliance. Updated certificates must be obtained every three years.

Please note, the above is not an exhaustive list of minimum standards in New South Wales. For a more detailed list, visit Fair Trading NSW.

Queensland

In Queensland, strengthened repair and maintenance obligations commenced from 1 October 2022 to support the staggered introduction of minimum housing standards from 1 September 2023. Minimum Housing Standards apply to new leases entered from 1 September 2023 and all tenancies from 1 September 2024. To meet minimum standards, properties in Queensland must:

  1. be weatherproof and structurally sound
  2. have fixtures and fittings in good repair
  3. have locks on windows and doors
  4. be free of vermin, damp and mould
  5. boast privacy coverings
  6. have adequate plumbing and drainage
  7. home a functioning kitchen and laundry facilities.

In addition, smoke alarms must be installed in each bedroom on each storey and in hallways with interconnected bedrooms. If there is no bedroom on a storey, then there must be at least one installed in the most likely path of travel to the exit. Lastly, if the house has a pool, landlords must ensure that pool safety barriers are compliant.

Please note, the above is not an exhaustive list of minimum standards in Queensland. For a more detailed list, visit the Queensland Government’s Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy website.

South Australia

In South Australia, Housing Improvement Regulations 2017 state the minimum housing standards that must be met for a residential premises to be considered safe and suitable for human habitation. The following standards apply.

  1. Fittings and fixtures must not present a health or safety hazard and be in good working order.
  2. The property must have a toilet, bath or shower, hand basin, kitchen sink and laundry wash trough or basin, space and designated water supply for a washing machine, an oven and cooktop, adequate kitchen bench space and a food storage cupboard.
  3. Each room containing a toilet or bathroom must provide adequate privacy to the tenant.
  4. Rooms containing a toilet must not open directly to a room used for the storage or preparation of food.
  5. The property must have a sufficient and continuously available supply of hot and cold water and electricity.
  6. The property must be free from materials or substances that pose a risk of harm to the health of tenants (e.g. asbestos, lead dust, chemical residue).
  7. Each external door must be fitted with a lock and each external window must be fitted with a latch.

In addition, landlords must ensure a 10-year permanently connected smoke alarm is working and maintained. Also, any swimming pool must be fenced off in accordance with regulations standards and these must be maintained.

Please note, the above is not an exhaustive list of minimum standards in South Australia. For a more detailed list, read the Housing Improvement Regulations 2017.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, the following minimum standards apply to rental properties.

  1. A property must be weatherproof. This means there is no weather entering the property that should not be.
  2. A property must be generally clean. A property is clean when it provides a basic level of cleanliness and hygiene.
  3. A property must be in good repair. This means, there should be no areas of the property that need significant repairs.
  4. A property must have a working flushing toilet. The toilet must be connected to a wastewater management system (including a septic system), or any other system approved by Council for the treatment or disposal of waste.
  5. A property must have an area intended for cooking (such as a kitchen). The kitchen must have a sink, hot and cold water, a stove top, and an oven.
  6. A property must be connected to a mains electrical supply (or something that can supply electricity for the people that the property is designed to accommodate).
  7. Each room of a rental property must have adequate natural or artificial lighting. The exception is when the room is a storage room or garage.
  8. A property must have a heater in the main living area of the property.
  9. A property must have curtains or blinds covering each window in the bedrooms and living/lounge room.
  10. All rooms in a rental property should have openings to allow air in.

In addition, a rental property must have a smoke alarm. It must be mains powered or powered by a 10-year non-removable lithium battery and meet the Australian Standard. In terms of placement, if any storey of a rental property contains a bedroom, a smoke alarm should be installed in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom and if there is no corridor or hallway, a smoke alarm must be installed between that part of the building containing the bedroom and the rest of the building and in any other storey of the building that does not contain a bedroom. Lastly, if a property has a swimming pool or spa that holds a depth of water of 300mm (30cm) or more, a pool safety barrier must be installed. This requirement applies to pools and spas installed from 1994 onwards.

Please note, the above is not an exhaustive list of minimum standards in Tasmania. For a more detailed list, refer to the Tasmanian Government’s Consumer, Building and Occupational Services website.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government is still considering what minimum standards should be set to ensure that rental properties meet basic levels of safety, amenity and sanitation and how any minimum standards should be implemented.

When we know more, we will update this page.

Northern Territory

According to the Northern Territory Consumer Affairs website, when renting a property, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property is clean and habitable and meets all health and safety requirements.

It is also the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property during the period of a tenancy so that it is in a reasonable state or repair allowing for wear and tear.

If the Northern Territory Government releases a list of official minimum standards, we will update this page.

Western Australia

Currently, the minimum standards for rental properties in Western Australia are under review. We will update this page as legislation changes.

*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are here, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.

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