Residential Leases

Tenancy Agreement For Rented Residential Premises (The Lease)

In most cases, before you move into a rental property you will need to sign a lease; a legal contract between the tenants (the person renting the property) and landlords/agents (“the landlord”). The lease is an important document as it determines the legal relationship between these parties and must be given to the tenant before payment or committing to the tenancy and another copy of the signed agreement within 14 days of it being signed. All written leases must be written using the Residential tenancy agreement (Form 1AA) and no terms or conditions within the lease can contradict or contract out of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987.
Whether the agreement is written or verbal, a tenant must also be given the Information for tenant sheet which will provide further information in this matter.

Types of Lease agreements
Leases are either fixed term or periodic, and as their names suggest, they are differentiated by the length of time allotted to the lease.

Fixed Term Lease
These leases are created to encompass a set period of time and may be written or verbal. We recommend, however, that for certainty and peace of mind you use written leases. Although fixed-term leases have expiry dates, the agreement will not automatically terminate on the end date unless either the tenant or landlord gives 30 days’ notice of intention NOT to renew the agreement. You can download an example of a Residential Tenancy Agreement form here.

Periodic Lease
A periodic lease has no pre-determined finish date. It continues on with the same terms and conditions until either you or the the landlord give the appropriate notice to end it. Once a fixed term lease ends, and no new agreement is signed, the tenancy will usually roll over to a periodic lease should the tenant continue renting the property. Even though there is no new signed lease to replace the expired lease, the terms and conditions of the original agreement still apply.

Legal Formalities
At the start of the tenancy, the tenant must be given the following by the landlord:

  • i) a copy of the relevant information statement (1AC or 1AD)
  • ii) a copy of your residential tenancy agreement
  • iii) two copies of the property condition report (must be received within 7 days after you have entered into occupation of the premises)
  • iv) receipt for any bond that you have paid
  • v) keys to your new home.

Property Condition Report

When a bond is paid, the landlord must prepare a property condition report (the report”). The report notes the general condition of the property, including fittings and fixtures. The minimum a report must include is set out in Form 1 Property Condition Report.

The report is important because it can be used as evidence if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning or damage, particularly at the end of a tenancy. Even if no bond is paid, we recommend you complete a report as it may help if there is a dispute about the condition of the property in the future.

Beginning of Tenancy

The landlord must provide the tenant with two copies of the report prepared by him within seven days of the tenant moving into the property. Should the tenant disagree with the information in the report, he has seven days from receiving the report to note their changes within both copies of the report, and return one copy to the the landlord. The tenant will the taken to have agreed with this initial report, if he does not provide the the landlord with an amended copy within the seven days.

End of Tenancy

At the end of the tenancy, the landlord must provide another report no later than 14 days after a tenancy has been terminated. In this case, the tenant must be given reasonable opportunity to be present at the final inspection. If the tenant does not  receive the opening or closing reports, the tenant should contact Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 for guidance.

 

What is a Bond?
A bond is a payment by the tenant to the landlord that acts as security against the tenant meeting the terms of the lease. The bond and rent are completely separate payments and tenants should not treat any part of the bond as rent.

At the end of the lease the bond is:

  • refunded entirely to the tenant; or,
  • claimed in part or in full by the landlord, most often, to cover any damage to the property. A landlord or agent does not have to ask a tenant to pay a bond. However, if they do they must give the tenant a copy of the condition report setting out the state of repair and general condition of the property at the start of the lease.

Bond amount
The bond must not be more than four times the weekly rent; unless the weekly rent is more than $1200 per week

Lodging a bond

Bond money must be lodged with the Bond Administrator (Consumer Protection) until the end of the tenancy., as soon as possible and no later than 14 days after receipt of the money.  If the tenant is permitted to keep pets capable of carrying parasites which can affect humans a pet bond can be charged. However, lessors can not charge a pet bond for an assistance dog.

Refund of the Bond

A full refund should be given to the tenant if the rent has been paid in full, all bills relating to the property have been duly paid, and the property is left in good condition when he moves out. A Joint Application for Disposal of Security Bond form must be signed by the landlord and tenant and submitted to the Bond Administrator. Note, claims can’t be made for ‘fair wear and tear’, such as carpets wearing out over a long time.

Disputes
Any disputes regarding the bond amount to be returned to the tenant (or if there is a missing signature on the Joint Application for Disposal of Security Bond) a court order (residential tenancy) or tribunal order (residential parks long-stay tenancy) will be required. The Bond Administrator cannot decide these disputes only a magistrate has the power to settle such matters in a residential tenancy matter (or the State Administrative Tribunal in a residential parks long-stay tenancy matter). If it is necessary to seek a court order, a Form 6 Application for Disposal of Bond Money should be completed online; either the tenant or the landlord can begin this process.

Repairs in a Rental Home

Repairs fall into two categories: urgent and non-urgent repairs.

 

Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs are defined by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and fall into 2 categories: repairs that are necessary for the supply or restoration of an essential service and other urgent repairs.

Essential services are listed in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989 as electricity, gas, a functioning refrigerator (if one is provided with the premises), waste water management treatment and water (including the supply of hot water). Arrangements for repairs that are necessary to supply or restore an essential service must be made with a suitable repairer within 24 hours.

Other urgent repairs are those that are not necessary for the supply or restoration of an essential service, but may nevertheless cause damage to the premises, injure a person or cause undue hardship or inconvenience to the tenant. Arrangements for these repairs must be made within 48 hours after the landlord is advised of the needed repairs.

If the need for urgent repair arises, other than as a result of a breach of the lease by the tenant, the tenant must notify the landlord of the need for urgent repairs as soon as practicable, the landlord must then ensure that the repairs are carried out by a suitable repairer as soon as practicable after that notification. If, within 24 hours (in the case of repairs for the supply or restoration of essential services) or 48 hours (in the case of “other urgent repairs”), the landlord cannot be contacted, or, having notified the landlord of the need for the repairs, the landlord fails to ensure that the repairs will be carried out by a suitable repairer as soon as practicable after that notification, the tenant can arrange for the repairs to be carried out by a suitable repairer to the minimum extent necessary to effect those repairs. Should the tenant arrange for repairs, the the landlord must, as soon as practicable after the repairs are carried out, reimburse the tenant for any reasonable expense incurred by the tenant in arranging for those repairs to be carried out and paying for those repairs.

 

Non-urgent repairs

The tenant should notify the landlord in writing about any non-urgent repairs, detailing what needs to be repaired, however, the landlord does not have to fix items that were disclosed as not working before the lease was entered into, or that the tenant could not reasonably have expected to be working at the time the agreement was entered into. If the landlord does not carry out the repairs within a suitable time, the tenant should contact Consumer Protection.

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