Accessing a rental property during a tenancy - Real estate industry bulletin 251
3 December 2021
Accessing a rental property during a tenancy
Consumer Protection is aware of some recent cases where landlords and property managers have incorrectly tried to access a tenanted property. These cases have resulted in some serious outcomes, including the involvement of the Western Australian Police Force. This bulletin will provide information about what you need to do to lawfully access a tenanted property.
When do I need to provide advance written notice to the tenant?
In most cases, a landlord or their property manager must provide the tenant with advance written notice for access to the rental property. The residential tenancy laws set the content of the forms you must use to provide the notice, as well as the delivery method and required timeframes.
You must use the Form 19 Notice of proposed entry to premises to provide the advance notice when seeking access for the following reasons:
- To conduct a routine inspection, with up to four routine inspections allowed during a 12-month period.
- To inspect or carry out necessary repairs or maintenance.
- To show the premises to prospective tenants or buyers.
- To inspect the premises and assess any damage, if a tenant’s interest in the tenancy agreement is terminated on the grounds of family violence.
- Any other purpose.
If you seek access to inspect and secure the premises because you believe it’s abandoned, you need to use the Form 12 Notice to tenant of abandonment of premises. You must deliver the notice by leaving copies at the property and the tenant’s last known place of employment. Our abandoned rental properties and goods page will provide more information about this process.
Sometimes you may need to access the property to check on issues identified during a previous routine inspection. Checking on the repair or remedy of issues does not count as another routine inspection, so long as you are only inspecting the previously identified areas of concern.
You find weeds in the rear garden beds and that the lawn has not been mowed during a routine inspection. You can issue the tenant with a notice for the breach of agreement in not maintaining the garden and give them 14 days to fix the issues.
You will need to issue the tenant with another Form 19 notice to access the property to check the breach is fixed. The access may fit either the ‘inspect any necessary repairs or maintenance’ or ‘any other purpose’ categories, if all you are reviewing and commenting on is the weeding of the garden beds and mowing of the lawn.
If you review or comment on other areas of the property during this follow-up access, you will be in breach of the agreement as you have conducted a routine inspection without providing proper notice to the tenant.
When don’t I need to provide advance written notice to the tenant?
You do not need to provide written notice to access the property for the following reasons:
- in case of any emergency;
- to collect rent as per the terms of the tenancy agreement; or
- if the tenant gives consent at or immediately before time of entry.
How do I correctly issue the forms?
You can serve a notice by emailing or handing it to the tenant. You can also post it by ordinary mail, which Australia Post will deliver.
The forms specify the amount of advance notice required for each applicable access reason. Make sure you allow enough time for the specified period of notice, plus time for delivery, to ensure you serve the form correctly. If you do not serve the notice correctly, the notice may be invalid and any entry to the premises will be unlawful.
While you can fill in the required information on the notice forms, you cannot alter or remove any content. You may risk the notice becoming invalid if you alter or remove any content.
Do I need to negotiate the date or time for access with the tenant?
You do not need to negotiate the proposed time and date with the tenant before providing the applicable notice.
However, it may be that the proposed entry will impose on the sleep schedule of a newborn or a shift worker, a pre-planned event at the property, or the home quarantining of the tenant. Whatever their reason, a tenant may find that the proposed entry will inconvenience them and they are allowed to negotiate an alternative date and/or time.
You must make a reasonable effort to negotiate a time and/or date that does not inconvenience the tenant. Considering the needs of the tenant can make the access run more smoothly and not make any of the parties feel uncomfortable.
Can the tenant be present during the access?
If you correctly issue the relevant notice and the tenant does not raise any concern with the proposed entry, it would be reasonable for you to access the property under the terms of the notice.
The tenant does have the right to choose to be present at the time of you accessing the property. If the tenant cannot be present at the time stated on the notice, and they cannot negotiate an alternative time, the tenant can ask a friend or a relative to be there instead.
For more information, visit our Privacy and entry rights for rental properties page.
If you have a query about accessing a tenanted property, you can contact Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre on 1300 304 054 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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