Although a verbal tenancy agreement is permitted, maintaining signed written records of all your important dealings with your tenant affords you both added protection should a dispute arise. However, both forms are legally binding and you may have difficulty in any subsequent Tribunal or Court hearing if you do not have comprehensive written documentation.
Upon signing a written tenancy agreement, the tenant has the right to inhabit your property for the term of the fixed-term lease or in accordance with the periodic agreement. A typical tenancy agreement incorporates 40 compulsory terms. These can be added to or amended - however, expert guidance is recommended to do so.
Each Australian state and territory has its own stipulations in regard to rental agreements. It's important to read the documentation freely available to landlords and tenants to help ensure the tenancy agreement you've been provided is valid in your region. You should consider obtaining inderpendent legal advice.
Australian Capital Territory
The Tenants Union ACT recommends both parties read their rental agreement carefully before signing. Take particular note of the duration of the tenancy, the sum of rent to be paid, method of payment, and any special conditions. In the ACT, a rental agreement is automatically voided if it's inconsistent with the Residential Tenancy Act. If at the time of signing you agree to any repairs or additions to the property, it's important that you also detail this agreement in writing.
New South Wales
A standard tenancy form is freely available on the NSW Department of Fair Trading's website. The state accepts both verbal and written rental agreements - or a combination of the two. Whichever method is chosen, it must follow the Residential Tenancy Act 2010. Landlords should be aware that, without a written rental agreement, they're not permitted to increase the rent within the first six months, nor can they end the tenancy without grounds.
The Northern Territory's Department of Justice recommends that both would-be landlords and tenants read its 'Guide To Renting In the NT' before committing to a legally binding lease agreement. In the Northern Territory, a tenant can give 14 days' notice to leave without stipulating a reason provided they have a periodic agreement. However, a landlord must provide 42 days' noticed to leave if they don't stipulate a reason.
Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority dictates that a standard written rental agreement must include the following:
Details of what both the landlord and tenant can and can't do
Current contact details for the landlord and tenant
Start and end dates for the lease if it's fixed-term; or statement that the agreement is periodic
Details of rent amount, period, and payment method
Any special terms
Please note: special terms must first be negotiated by the tenant and landlord before adding them to the agreement.
The landlord must provide the tenant with a signed copy of the agreement within 14 days of receiving it.
The Government of South Australia Office of Consumer and Business Affairs offers standard lease templates for both fixed-term and periodic agreements on its website. Both landlords and tenants are permitted to add clauses to the agreement provided they're not contrary to the state's Tenancy Act. The tenant should receive a copy of the agreement that's been signed by both parties within 21 days. If either party has a dispute regarding how the rental agreement and any additional clauses are being interpreted they should take a copy to their local Tenancies branch to ensure their rights and obligations are being met.
In Tasmania, if a rental agreement is in writing the landlord must provide the tenant with a signed copy within 14 days of the tenancy's start. In addition, the landlord must ensure the tenant has a copy of the state's 'Rental Guide' and a list of rules should the property have strata title rules that must be followed. According to standard Tasmanian fixed-term rental agreements, tenants cannot be asked to move out prior to the expiry date unless they have broken a condition of the agreement - even if the property has been sold.
If a lease in Victoria is written, it must follow the proper legal format - these templates are available from Consumer Affairs Victoria. The state offers guidance for both fixed-term and periodic agreements. Both leases should outline in detail:
Details of rent amount, period, and payment method
The amount of bond required
The length and type of tenancy
Any other special conditions and rules
Western Australia's Department of Consumer and Employment Protection oversees both the Residential Tenancy Act and the mandatory information required from a written rental agreement. Along with a new lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the 'Schedule 2 Info For Tenants' booklet - available online in PDF format - either before or in conjunction with the agreement being entered into. A copy of the written agreement, signed by both parties, must also be provided to the tenant within 21 days of the lease's commencement date.
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).