Before allowing a new tenant access to your property, it's important that they sign a residential tenancy agreement. While Australian States and Territories may allow verbal tenancy agreements (and a combination of written and verbal), having a document signed by both landlord and tenant may expedite the process should a dispute arise.

A standard residential tenancy agreement can include 40 mandatory terms. The extent to which you can tailor the agreement according to your own needs varies from State to State. Caution should be exercised when changing any legally-binding documentation, as this may result in fines or even result in the contract being void.

Each Australian State and Territory has their own take on a residential tenancy agreement. It's important to read the documentation freely available to landlords and tenants to help ensure the agreement you sign will stand up in court. You may also wish to consider obtaining your own independant legal advice.

Australian Capital Territory
According to the Tenants Union ACT, a residential tenancy agreement not in the spirit of the territories' Tenancy Act will be automatically voided. If, as landlord, you're tempted to add your own interpretation of any mandatory clauses, please seek advice from your local government body - doing so could save you considerable time and money in the long run.

New South Wales

Any residential tenancy agreement entered into in New South Wales - be it written, verbal, or a combination of the two - must follow the state's Residential Tenancy Act 2010. Without a written agreement landlords cannot raise the tenant's rent within the first six months or terminate the tenancy without grounds.

Northern Territory
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.

The Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority allows for both landlords and tenants to incorporate 'special terms' into a residential tenancy agreement. However, they must first be negotiated between the two parties. The standard agreement must include: any restrictions on both the tenant and landlord; up-to-date contact details for both parties; terms for any fixed lease; details of rent, advance rent and bond sums plus accepted payment methods. The landlord must provide the tenant with a signed copy of the agreement within 14 days of receiving it.

South Australia
South Australia's Office of Consumer and Business Affairs offers fixed-term and periodic agreement templates on its website. Both landlords and tenants are permitted to add special clauses - but should only do so if they have an understanding of the state's Tenancy Act. It's the landlord's responsibility to ensure the tenant receives a copy of the agreement signed by both parties within 21 days of the lease beginning.

Tasmanian residential rental agreements must be signed by both the landlord and the tenant and returned to the tenant within 14 days of the lease start date. Landlords may request that a tenant provide up to one month's rent as bond at the beginning of a lease - the monies will be held by the Rental Deposit Authority. 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.

Consumer Affairs Victoria offers templates online for the tenancy agreements. The state, in accordance with the Tenancy Act, determines that written residential leases should include: the sum of bond paid; the rent amount, period and payment method; the length and type of tenancy; and any special conditions added by either the tenant or landlord.

Please note: any non-standard clauses included in the agreement should be vetted by an expert to ensure they don't contravene Victoria's Tenancy Act.

Western Australia
As landlord of a residential property in Western Australia, you must provide your prospective tenant with a copy of the 'Schedule 2 Info For Tenants' booklet - available online in PDF format - in conjunction with any written or verbal lease 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.

General Disclaimer

The information contained in 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).