As a landlord, it's vital that you have an in-depth knowledge of tenant rights specific to the state your property is located in to ensure you don't unwittingly fall foul of the law, and that you're able to resolve any disputes that arise in a timely fashion.
Disputes pertaining to tenant rights can be varied, however the most common issues can be grouped under the following categories: bond; rent increases; rent arrears; repairs and maintenance; locks and security; access and privacy; termination notices; and end of agreements. Each Australian state has its own regulations regarding these issues.
Australian Capital Territory
According to ACT regulations, landlords have two weeks to lodge their bonds with the Office of Rental Bonds. The tenant can lodge the bond directly, however the landlord may refuse them access to the property until they see proof the monies have been submitted.
Before a tenancy agreement commences, the landlord must provide the tenant with the Office of Fair Trading booklet, 'The Renting Book'. It's available from the Office of Regulatory Services website.
Should you decide to sell your rental property, there are a number of restrictions regarding when you can show the property including: not on Sundays; not on public holidays; and not before 8am or after 6pm.
New South Wales
In NSW, bond can either be paid in one lump sum or in instalments from when the tenant agreement is signed - with the landlord's approval.
At the end of tenancy, your tenant must fill in the 'Claim for Refund of Bond Money'. Once you've agreed upon the return of the bond it must be submitted to the NSW Fair Trading. Provided there are no disputes the tenant will receive payment in 14 days.
If, when you attempt to increase the rent, your tenant feels that the proposed sum in excessive, they're within their tenant rights to apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal within 30 days of receiving the rent increase notice.
A tenancy agreement in the Northern Territory consists of two parts. The first sets out tenant rights and landlord rights - once signed it is legally binding. The second captures the condition of the property prior to the tenancy's commencement.
The Department of Justice's 'A Guide to Renting in the Northern Territory', available to download via the government organisation's website, offers detailed guidance regarding renting. It includes: starting a tenancy; paying rent; rights and responsibilities; repairs, moving out; and resolving disputes.
According to the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority, it's required that landlords provide tenants:
Premises that are fit to live in and in a good state of repair
Reasonable security including locks in working order and keys to all locks
Vacant possession at the start of the tenancy
Compensation for money spent on emergency repairs up to two weeks' rent equivalent
Private residential leases are regulated by the South Australia Residential Tenancy Act. The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs provides services guidance to both tenants and landlords regarding their rights and obligations under the Act. Tenants can reasonably expect:
Maintenance and repair of the property by the landlord
Proper receipts for any monies paid
The landlord must assume responsibility for council rates and taxes
Upon request, the landlord must provide records of rents received relating to the tenancy
The Tenants Union of Tasmania provides guidance on matters of bond, security, access and privacy, and repairs and maintenance. A Tasmanian landlord can enter a property between 8am and 6pm provided they give 24 hours notice. They are permitted to carry out routine inspections no more than once every three months. It is illegal for a landlord to charge a prospective tenant to submit an application to rent a residential property - doing so may result in a $6000 fine.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has compiled a renting guide available online called 'Renting A Home - a guide for tenants'. It outlines state regulations regarding issues that may arise from the time the tenant first views the property to when a lease comes to an end. In Victoria, a landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant with children. Doing so may result in legal action. Landlords can also be fined if they fail to provide tenants with their full contact details including an emergency phone number on or before the first day of their tenancy. The Residential Tenancies Bond Authority administers all residential bonds in Victoria. If a dispute arises as to how the Authority divides repayment at the end of a lease, the matter may be escalated to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Western Australia's Department of Commerce has produced a detailed guide to renting property in the state. It includes information on everything from locating the right property to court procedures should the lease take a turn for the worse. For an even more comprehensive guide to tenants' responsibilities and rights in Western Australia, the Residential Tenancy Act outlines: the role of the Department of Commerce and the Magistrates Court; rent payment, increases and arrears management; who's responsible for rates and taxes; and the correct way to end a tenancy.
The information contained in TenancyCheck.com.au website is general information only and does not constitute legal, financial or compliance advice. As the laws relating to tenancy agreements may have changed we recommend you check with the relevant State or Territory government department. We also recommend that you obtain your own independent legal advice about matters relating to landlord obligations, tenant rights and any legal disputes you may have with a tenant(s).