Guide to Renting
Rental Guide – Rights & Responsibilities
Tenancy Application and Agreement
The Residential Tenancies Act 1989 requires that there must be a written tenancy agreement between all landlords/agents and tenants. To ensure you’re ready to move quickly with any application, it helps to be aware of the various information and documentation which will be required from you:
- Drivers licence/passport details (photo ID)
- Current address details & name of landlord/agent
- Previous address details & name of landlord/agent
- Current employer & contact number
- Period of employment
- Previous employer, phone number and period of employment
- Tenancy details – number of adults, children, pets
- Next of kin
- Three references, referees’ occupation and contact number
- While the standard terms of an agreement cannot be altered, additional terms may be added should both parties agree to it.
- This agreement also involves the signing of a Premises Condition Report, which sets out the state of the premises at the beginning of the tenancy. This should be a true and accurate account of the condition of the premises and will become the most important piece of evidence if a dispute arises over the condition of the premises at the end of the tenancy.
- The landlord/agent can ask the tenant to pay half the cost of preparation of the tenancy agreement, but only up to a maximum of $15.
A tenant may be asked to pay a reservation fee (no more than one week’s rent) in order to reserve the premises while an application for tenancy is being considered. A reservation fee is a sign of good faith, but does not guarantee that the tenancy will go ahead.
If the landlord/agent decides not to go ahead with the tenancy, on the agreed terms, or makes no decision within one week of the fee being paid, the full amount must be refunded. Should the tenancy go ahead, the reservation fee is applied to the first week’s rent. If the applicant withdraws, the landlord may retain rent for the days the premises were reserved, provided the premises were not let or occupied during this period.
A tenant must begin paying rent in advance from the first day of the tenancy. The tenant can be required to pay:
- 2 weeks rent in advance, if the weekly rent is $300 or less, or
- 1 month rent in advance, if the weekly rent is more than $300
It is important to remember that a tenant cannot be required to pay the rent other than on a weekly or fortnightly basis if the weekly rent is $300 or less.
Advance rent cannot be kept by the landlord/agent in reserve as some form of extra rental bond – it is simply an upfront payment of rent. A tenant cannot be asked to make any more rent payments until the rent which they last paid has been used.
When you take out a lease, be sure to factor in additional costs you’ll be likely to pay on top of your rent, such as:
- Water usage – this applies only to leases where the terms include payment of the ‘water usage’ component of the owner’s water rates (the majority of agreements will not require you to pay this)
If you’re moving into a share house, feel free to ask for a monthly estimate of any sundry costs which you’ll be expected to contribute towards such as:
- Cable TV
Illegal Charges and Requests
There are certain charges which tenants are not required to pay and requests which do not need to be met:
- Council rates
- Water rates – except in cases where a tenant has agreed under additional terms to pay for ‘water usage’. Under no circumstances can water connection fees be passed on to the tenant and if there is no individual meter for rented premises, as is the case with most blocks of units, a tenant cannot be charged
- Maintenance and repair charges for general upkeep and fair wear and tear
- Penalty clauses for late payment of rent
- Post-dated cheques, sometimes asked for by landlords/agents on the pretext they can be cashed at regular intervals