Rabu, 13 Oktober 2010

Light globes, pets and Regulation

As we know, Fair Trading NSW awaits comments on the draft Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010.

One of the things this Regulation will do is provide a standard form of residential tenancy agreement, so that landlords (who are responsible for preparing written agreements) don't fall prey to unscrupulous solicitors, who might charge a fee for their "agreement preparation" services...

They wont have to, because an already prepared agreement will be coming to a website near you (sheer genius!) Or so we hope.

We think this is a good idea, because we'd hate for landlords to find an excuse to put the rent up. But, because we like to be cautious, we've gone over the proposed standard form agreement with a fine tooth comb, to see if it includes anything untoward, or just plain silly.

We haven't been disappointed...

"The tenant agrees, when this agreement ends, to make sure that all the light globes on the premises are working" (cl 17.5). "The landlord agrees that all light globes on the residential premises are working on the commencement of the tenancy" (cl 18.2).

One can only assume that the agreement will come with instructions on how to repair a broken light globe. If not, perhaps the smart thing to do will be to pack up all your light globes and take them with you when you move. Chances are, you'll be needing them.

Aside from that, there's not much to report on the silly side.

... But the proposed standard form agreement could go a little way towards mitigating the damage a tricky provision of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 might do. Section 19 of the Act prohibits some additional terms from being included in residential tenancy agreements, and it specifically mentions professional carpet cleaning. This puts into legislation a consistently held view that carpets only need to be cleaned if they were clean to start with, but they're not clean at the end of the tenancy...

There was a last minute amendment to section 19, which unfortunately didn't receive any discussion when the Act was debated in Parliament. If your landlord lets you keep an animal, they can insist that you clean the carpets when you leave. This could apply regardless of whether your animal is a goldfish, or a raging bull.

To make matters worse, it also doesn't matter where your animal sleeps, or how dirty the carpets were to begin with. It is a bizarre piece of law, representing the unholy union of two quirks - pandering as it does to the fascination some landlords have with tenants keeping pets, and an obsession many real estate agents have with steam cleaned carpets...

The standard form residential tenancy agreement represents our best opportunity to reign this provision in. To achieve this, the proposed "pets clauses" (cl 42 & 43) in the draft Regulation will need a fair bit of work. If Fair Trading NSW can find a way to limit the use of "carpet cleaning" clauses, by incorporating sensible terms in the standard form residential tenancy agreement, then they should be well and truly congratulated. We shall have to wait and see.