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Lights bulbs and rental property

Queensland legislation focused

The responsiblity of lights bulbs in rental property is a question that at times causes confusion.


Members of Real Estate Excellence - please email Stacey Holt for more information and or questions if required.

The following information has been sourced from the RTA Residential Tenancies Authority (who do not   look generally at matters of risk for lessors/agents and tenants) – (current as at 30th September   2014).

Light   bulbs

Fast   facts

  • It is   not specified in the Act who is   responsible for supplying or replacing light bulbs.
  • Common   industry practice is that the lessor/agent/manager is responsible for   maintaining specialised bulbs, and the tenant/resident is responsible for the   replacement of everyday bulbs.
  • The   tenant and lessor/agent/manager should discuss this at the start of the   tenancy and agree who is responsible for maintenance or replacement of light   bulbs. This should be detailed in the tenancy agreement.
  • If   changing a bulb requires specialist knowledge or specialist equipment,   changing the bulb may be part of the lessor/agent's responsibility to   maintain the property.

Suggested Best Practice and response to the lessor from Real Estate Excellence (extract from the PME manual chapter 3.3.9

The RTRA Act states in section 185 that lessors are responsible for maintaining their property and inclusions (if needed quote the section in full verbally or in writing)

Although the legislation is broad and does not specifically mention matters such as light bulbs, our agency has a policy that due to risk management, we deem this to be a lessor responsibility. Particularly with the reference in the legislation to inclusions; due to the risk involved with this matter (and others) we strongly urge you to attend to the matter as part of your maintenance obligations.

If you disagree with our position and request that tenants undertake such duties, we request your instruction in writing, plus we will require special terms that need to be drafted for the tenancy agreement in which we cannot supply as only lawyers or landlords can write special terms for tenancy contracts.(as per the Legal Profession Act Section 24) We respectfully also recommend that you contact your public liability insurance company in the event that the tenant is injured whilst carrying out the maintenance obligations to ensure that you are protected should the injury result in claim.

The frustration of the now in property management

Added comments by Stacey Holt June 13 2015

In less than 24 hours of blogging my thoughts below, following the original blog below, the following comments have been received. Please also refer towards the end of this blog thoughts from a wonderful career property manager who wrote a masterpiece in my view about the importance of education for property managers, landlords and tenants.

The industry has long struggled to not only recruit but retain property managers to the industry. This is not new however I do believe, based totally on my own personal knowledge, experience and working with over 200 member offices in Queensland that this issue is becoming more concerning.  I have been in this privileged position of educating, advising, supporting and training the industry since 2002.

For people reviewing my blog who do not know my business or what I do, I am an advisor and offer support services for the industry via my private membership part of the business (my main focus). Most of the requests by far for support services  come from property managers in the field. To give a further explanation, I receive from 40 to 80 emails a day from property managers relating to disputes with tenants and or landlords. These support requests range from confirming what they are doing is correct to what is the law about that certain matter and how best to handle the situation. My advisory services in particularly the last 12 months have seen an increase in demand from property managers who have received requests and or demands from landlords regarding their rental investment property. These demands are vast however one of the many reasons this blog was originally posted is due to the demands that fall outside our scope of expertise such as what has been posted below plus concern of 'crossing a line' and carrying out services that could create risk to the agency.

The other side is landlords expecting tenants to mow lawns once a week, hedges to be cut to certain height, inspect once a fortnight, replace carpet after the tenant has made an error and stained the carpet but the carpet is 10 years old. The list truly does go on. I am in a unique position given my valued clients do not come to me to tell good stories; the main situations I deal with are the problems. (no complaints). I am using this unique position to try and get a message to our industry. Are we overservicing, being bullied or are we offering all these extra services for extra cost if we choose to deliver. Some of the comments I have received which are noted below this blog demonstrate the possible reasons our industry has headed this way. To have a point of difference in order to gain the business etc. Valid points.

When I am not carrying out my main business services which are day to day operational advisory support, I am travelling around Queensland offering compliance, risk management and best practice training.

My main passion is educating and empowering property managers with knowledge in order for them to carry out their career successfully. One of my core beliefs is you can not be a property manager nor have a property management business without what I call the foundation of property management. The foundation is the law. After that comes implementation, application and best practice when also leads to risk management practices.

My main concerns about our industry are;

* Property managers are expected to manage certain number of properties and or manage particular tasks.  When they have to manage tasks and duties that are outside their expertise and can be quite stressful plus time consuming, they neglect their core duty of managing the property. This leads to a whole range of issues include unnecessary disputes with lessors and tenants and sometimes litigation including tenancy tribunal. It also leads to lost business.

* Property managers  (SOME) also do not learn nor retain the basics of what they should know in property management because they are focusing on other tasks such as the lessor civil matters as I have blogged below. There is only so much time in the day and when you are focused on these other activities, which I must say are mostly non incoming producing for the business, there is very little time if any to do what is income maintaining duties and income growth duties.

*  It costs a great deal of money financially (and emotionally at times) to operate a business and many businesses are not making much profit,  if any at all. One of the reasons I believe is due to my thoughts above; too much focus on non income producing activities.

* Many property managers do not make the average Australian wage. Like most people they wish for more money however there is sometimes not any more money, or money at all because our businesses are focusing on duties that do not fall within our management fees.

One of my main reasons for blogging my thoughts is to start the conversation; nothing changes, nothing changes. We are losing good people in our industry, our industry has people that care a great deal and are suffering in life due to the stress and many business owners are struggling to make ends meet. We need to change.

Real Estate and property management is a wonderful career. When we can get the balance right to the best of our ability. Our current model is not working (for most).


Original blog

I received this email below from one of my member licensee clients (one of a number I have received in recent times). I am now blogging my thoughts on this issue the industry is facing.

Client email to me

Hi Stacey,

We are experiencing a lot of unreasonable requests from owners at the moment, just checking to see if other agencies are experiencing the same rubbish. It’s like a new breed of desperate, anxious, scared, stupid people!

Just checking to see if we are not alone.

Kind regards


My reply


You ARE NOT ALONE! Given I deal with problems as you know (without complaint as that is what my job is) I see so much rubbish you cannot help but get down and frustrated sometimes.



My head hurts from it most days lately and from what I see it is getting far worse. What the is going on?!



I have been thinking for so very long about this and worry about our industry and the direction it is heading in regards to people’s expectations of us. I think part of the solution to this problem is us and standing our ground as to who we are and what we do.


We are  tenancy managers and manage the landlords obligations under the RTRA Act. That is it. Yet over the years our role has gone to insurance matters, trees disputes, fencing disputes, debt collectors, room heights, smoke alarm testing (one of my great concerns), checking to see if safety switches are in place and the list goes on. Did we get bullied into this or did we just start over servicing? The above matters, other than the speciality of the tenancy laws  are the lessor responsibly; not ours. We do all of these other matters, and some of them with great risk given our area of expertise is limited to property agency. We are not only suffering from risk, we are suffering from staff burnout and also massive costs (which leads) to losses to businesses who are providing all of the unnecessary extra services which fall outside our scope.


Below is an extract from chapter 35 of the PME manual as an example script for situations where the owner expects property managers to deal with their private civil matters.


Explain to the lessor that “Our agency manages the tenancy relationship on your behalf; we do not manage your private property affairs. We hold qualifications for Real Estate Agency practice and this qualification does not extend to matters that are outside our scope and area of expertise. We regrettably are unable to provide assistance in this particular area”.

 We can provide you with general information and links to Government information to assist you with any tree or fencing matters and or concerns with neighbours. However regrettably we are not in a position to deal with the matter. Thank you for your understanding


Comments received about the above blog.


I think there is a place for extra services; those that should be paid for and those we should do gratis. Landlords will know what we have done when we charge them for a service. It's just as important that they know we have done something for them for free, otherwise they think we are just takers. It is sometimes worth reducing a charge and making the Landlord aware that you have done just that. In so doing it will make them more comfortable with our charges.

Top of FormBottom of Form

There clearly needs to be better education for Landlords about what Property Managers do or in theory are really responsible for. Or maybe a clear outline from the get go, that our fee is 'x amount' for managing your relationship with Tenancy and Managing your Obligations under the RTA. and 'x amount' for all other matters that may arise during your ownership of the property'. I think if Landlords were given real life examples of the events that they will be responsible for outside of Tenancy Management & RTA Obligations, and given a choice in the beginning whether to manage it themselves at each time or pay a premium % on top of the existing management fee to have it taken care of, they would support it, or at least take ownership of the inevitable. In turn everyone knows where they stand, but it's transparent education or information required from the get go. Property managers don't get paid nearly enough for what they do and have to put up with.

Keep up the good fight.

I completely agree with everything you said! We need to communicate to the owners exactly what we do! We manage the tenancy not specialists in other matters!
This is the reason Stacey that after nearly 11 years in the industry I am contemplating finding another direction. I am losing faith in our system and a lot of issues with being backed up by laws. QCAT seems to back us up when they feel like it if we are right according to legislation or not. I used to love every aspect of my job now days I try to help people through a rough patch with some slack and they throw it right back in your face. Always the pm's doing or my fault your tenant doesn't want to rent your horrible property. Anyway I'm just losing faith more and more everyday best n less is looking good for a gig haha. Thanks for all your work within the industry.
Agree. Very important to offer the service but outsource the task - charge / build into fee. We are simply moving into another level of management but I doubt it will go back to simpler times so we need to become very effective facilitators. 

That is so true Stacey, thanks for sharing this. From my experience I found that I would go above and beyond what was required while looking after my owners properties, that was just me (except checking smoke alarms). 10 months ago, I attended to a small safety issue at one of my owners properties. While attending to this I sustained an injury and have not worked since that day. I would like to take this opportunity to say, girls and boys, be very careful what you do at the properties. I may of saved my owner $150 or so dollars, but now I'm being juggled around by Work Cover. Just be careful guys.

Oh yeah, in the 30 years I have been in the industry, I feel particularly in the past 12 months, a new age Landlord has evolved. I even had an incident that we are referring to as recent as yesterday. We seem to be forever justifying ourselves. Interesting and challenging times.

This is so spot on. I often wonder where you draw the line?! I wonder if trying to be competitive in a very populated market is the cause. Businesses offer extra services so they can stand out and then it becomes the norm. I've had an owner request that I post him a copy of his local newspaper every week as he is overseas and wishes to read it. I directed him to the online version as I don't even live in the same area and it would be an enormous task and expense to do this each week, but he didn't seem to hesitate in asking.

Great post Stacey and I am going to copy your blurb and put it on my pin board.


I have over 10 years. I just tell people what I will and won't do. Send them the links. I think Property Management should be called Tenancy management. Get rid of the blurred lines.

I've been in property management for 17 year and agree that we are there to manage the tenancy. Agents over the years have put all the extras in to try and go one better on all other agents and landlords expectations keep getting higher and higher. I've definitely had enough!


Part of the reason I am not in the industry now. It all just got TOO much. Property Managers are over worked and grossly underpaid for what they do and put up with. Four years was my limit.


Absolutely spot on ..... Interest rates have dropped to an all-time low but we have owners who want to keep increasing rents with no justification for increases! They won't spend anything on their properties either! So frustrating!


Reblogged with consent from the Author Taylor Henderson.


I have noticed more so than ever that there are many stories circulating not only on social media, but also on current affair programs about how horrible and soul-less people who work within the Real Estate industry are. Most commonly, these stories are in relation to landlords and persons who work in Property Management. These stories and articles have always been around and will continue to be broadcasted however the context of these stories are more often than not completely unjustified and wrong.

A few weeks ago, A Current Affair published a Facebook post once again calling on tenants to badmouth agents and landlords. Upon reading the comments posted, majority of these tenants were angry at their agents and landlords for simply doing what is needed to manage a property. Admittedly, some comments on the post were of agents and landlords who have quite clearly 'acted outside of the Act' however the majority were simply from tenants who do not understand the legislation and felt victimised.


I personally believe the way to overcome the social stigma on Property Managers and landlords is simply education. I am based in Queensland and our Act is the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. This Act has 557 sections. It is not reasonable to expect the tenants to know all their rights and obligations. It is however reasonable to expect landlords and agents to have practicable knowledge of all 557 sections of the Act. When you make the decision to become a property manager or a landlord who manages their investment property privately, you should also be prepared to educate yourself on the legislative requirements expected of you and the tenants. In Queensland, it takes four days to obtain your registration certificate. Within those four days of training, it is predominately sales based training with one day of property management. This is not enough to prepare you for what is to come with the job and definitely not enough time to gain knowledge on legislative requirements.


There are countless property managers and landlords who have very little knowledge of what requirements there are and solely manage properties and tenancies from a 'common sense' point of view. As much as common sense is a great thing, unfortunately there are 375 pages of legislation which governs the way we manage properties and tenancies.


By educating ourselves, we can then educate our tenants. This will in turn change the stigma on property managers and landlords and one day, hopefully, there will be a greater social understanding on what is really involved in managing properties and tenancies. There is a common misconception that all property managers and landlords are there to steal tenants money to pay a mortgage and treat tenants like they are nothing. Within the office I work in, this is completely opposite. We treat our tenants with respect and understand the importance of having a great relationship. We educate our tenants on what is expected of them and what is expected of us. We do not discriminate. We do not treat anyone badly. We create positive relationships and will continue to do so. This is why I feel disgusted when I read comments which generalise property managers and landlords as being horrible people.


Now is the time to make tenants aware of how much actually goes into managing properties and tenancies. Now is the time to ensure as a landlord, tenant or property manager that you have an understanding of your rights and responsibilities. While not all property managers, landlords and tenants are uneducated on what is legally right and wrong, there are many who are and while this continues, there will always be a divide between the lessor and the tenant.




NEW tenant support advice service now operating in QLD

Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

New Independent Tenants Advisory Service Up and Running

A new interim tenant’s advisory phone service has gone live today, providing Queensland tenants with independent help and advice and delivering on a Palaszczuk Government election commitment.

Speaking in State Parliament, Minister for Housing and Public Works Leeanne Enoch said the service will help thousands of Queensland tenants in both the public and private sectors.

“After the last Government cut funding to the previous Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service, tenants were left without an independent body to provide advice and support services in an area where disputes can be complex, confusing, and intimidating,” Ms Enoch said.

“Re-establishing the service will help tenants navigate their way through the tenancy market, and help them know their rights and obligations.”

Ms Enoch said that to ensure tenants have access to help as soon as possible, the Department of Housing has worked with Tenants Queensland and Enhance Care to develop a telephone advisory service.

“These organisations were chosen as they have the necessary experience, skills and existing infrastructure to become operational quickly. This service will be a temporary measure while work continues on designing a broader tenant advice service,” she said.

Tenants Queensland (TQ) spokesperson Ms Penny Carr said that the organisation was delighted to be part of this project.

“Since the previous funding cut we know that only a very small percentage of tenants seeking advice have managed to get through to us. This project will bring immediate relief to renters across the State”, said Ms Carr.

Any tenants needing advice can contact the service on 1300 744 263.


Media Contacts       Minister Enoch: Tim Shipstone – 0419 246 157

                               Tenants Queensland: Penny Carr – 0418 747 921


Source June 4 2015

Educating landlords - landlord insurance

Real Estate Excellence PME members note that the landlord booklet is being updated as well ready for July 1 "big and exciting changes coming to the system". 

An extract from the Property Management Excellence PME system landlord listing booklet which forms part of the PME system.

"Landlord protection insurance is strongly recommended by our agency. Whilst every action is taken to secure suitable tenants for your investment, life changes such as job loss and marriage breakdown can sometimes lead to people acting outside their usual character. To protect your investment, and for a relatively low cost that may be a tax deduction; lessor insurance is a must for today’s investor. We are unable to provide specific insurance advice."

Smoke alarms - the law and best practice

Queensland legislation references

View 17 minute best practice training video (QLD)

The following best practice information has been sourced from the PME manual

3.3.15 Smoke alarms


It is has been a requirement in Queensland since July 1 2007 for smoke alarms to be installed in all properties (houses and units). This includes all owner occupied and rental properties. Every property listed for sale and/or rented in Queensland must have minimum smoke alarms installed.


Smoke alarms in all properties must be in working order at all times. For rental properties, lessors have further requirements and obligations in relation to cleaning, testing and battery maintenance. Tenants also have responsibilities. The legislation which governs these requirements is the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990.


Every lessor in Queensland must ensure that the minimum required smoke alarms are installed in the property. The alarms can either be 9volt battery operated, or 10 year lithium battery operated or hard wired alarms. For more information about the number, position and type of alarms, visit


The lessor/agent must (arrange) to clean and test all smoke alarms in the rentals property within 30 days before the start of the tenancy commencing; this includes a tenancy renewal. The key word for compliance and risk management is that the cleaning and testing of all alarms in the property must be done before a new tenancy starts, and/or before a renewal tenancy agreement commences. At the time of cleaning and testing alarms, if it is found that any battery is flat, or almost flat, they must be replaced. Advise lessors that the agency arrange suitable contractors to carry out this service on their behalf.


If the lessor/agent becomes aware of any alarm that is not in working order, the lessor/agent must immediately remedy any alarm that is not working (as an emergency repair).


Tenants have an obligation to advise the lessor/agent immediately if they become aware that any alarms in the property are not in working order. The tenant is responsible for cleaning and testing any/all alarms at least once in a 12 month period. (This provision only applies for tenancy agreements that are 12 months or longer in duration). If a tenancy is less than 12 months, such as 6 months and the tenancy are renewed, the lessor is responsible for cleaning and testing alarms prior to the new tenancy (renewal) taking effect.


If the tenant becomes aware during the tenancy that any batteries in the alarms are flat, or almost flat (For example; they start chirping) the tenant is responsible for replacing the batteries.  Due to agency risk management, workplace health and safety laws and insurance restrictions, property managers are unable to carry out cleaning and testing obligations on behalf of the lessor. It is not recommended that lessors undertake this duty themselves due to risk management and liability concerns however if it is a non-electrical device, they are lawfully able to. Advise the lessor in writing that the agency does not recommend that they carry out the service themselves. Refer to Chapter 13 of the PME manual (maintenance) for more information.
 Smoke alarms and risk management recommendations


Ensure smoke alarms obligations are discussed at the sign up and that tenant/s are aware of their obligations - recommend that tenants plan an evacuation route for their home and place it in a conspicuous position. Include this recommendation in every sign up forms pack.  Evacuation plan templates can be found online in the folder sign up forms.

  • Obtain smoke alarm maintenance instructions from every lessor in writing.
  • Write to each lessor who may wish to maintain their own alarms and request that they notify your agency in writing each time alarms are attended too. Also address the agency concerns of this practice to the lessor in writing and provide advice against this practice.
  • Provide tenants with written reminders with each routine inspection to check and test all alarms prior to your inspection and to advise your agency immediately if there are concerns about any alarm’s operational effectiveness.
  • Have a standard question for tenants that is asked at every routine inspection, such as

“Have you tested the smoke alarms lately?” Make a note of the tenant response on the inspection report. For tenants who are not at the inspection, leave a standard thank you note which includes the question. Make a note that this has been done on the inspection report.

  • Ensure that contractor appointment forms are provided to each company/business contracted to maintain smoke alarms. Ensure that each contractor has public liability and professional indemnity (if applicable) insurance and that this is maintained annually.
  • Ensure that work orders are provided to each contractor and that they are followed up accordingly. Ensure that work orders state the lessors name care of your agency.
  • Ensure that lessors hold public liability insurance to a minimum policy value of $10 million and that the policy is renewed annually.
  • Do not manage properties that are not compliant and the lessor is complacent, and/or take action to have any smoke alarm maintenance concern immediately addressed
  • It is highly recommended that agents/property managers do not undertake the cleaning/testing obligations of any alarms.
  • Maintain an open agency culture, awareness and understanding of the seriousness of smoke alarms; if anyone in the agency becomes aware of a smoke alarm maintenance concern; that is the number one priority of the business at that moment.
  • Ensure at all times that there is sufficient written evidence in every property file that smoke alarm maintenance is managed effectively. In the event of a fire in a rental property, having a clear paper trail of sufficient evidence to prove that there is nothing else your agency could have done and that compliance of legislation has been adhered to; places your business in the best position for risk management.

  Real Estate Excellence members - there is a folder at Member online called smoke alarms information where you will find fact sheets and best practice forms. Please refer to Member online to review and use or email Stacey Holt.