Tenant Rights: A Guide To Every Australian Citizen

May 25, 2022    propertylawyersperthwide
Tenant Rights: A Guide To Every Australian Citizen

Being a tenant in Australia demands that you are deeply aware of certain tenant rights. These rights are usually specific to the territory or state you rent a property in. Knowing these rights will make sure you do not fall victim to any illegal dispute.

Most typical issues that usually arise regarding tenant rights include rent increases, rent arrears, bonds, repairs and maintenance, access and privacy, locks and security, end of agreements, and termination notices. 

Many qualified tenant lawyers in Australia provide services in these matters. This blog offers a detailed guide to tenants’ rights in Western Australia. Brief descriptions of other states and territories are also outlined later.

Tenants’ Rights At The Beginning Of A Lease

At the beginning of a tenancy, you will have the following rights:

1. Tenants’ Rights Not To Be Discriminated Against

As per Western Australia’s Equal Opportunity Act 1984, no prospective tenant applicant must face any discrimination, which may be in terms of race, sex, disability, age, etc.

2. Option Fee

When a person applies for a tenancy, he may be requested to deposit an option fee. The fee amount proves the rental application is valid. Based on the location of the property and the amount of weekly rent payable, the chargeable fee amount is limited. 

3. Residential Tenancy Agreement

Every residential tenancy is subject to a standard form agreement, the clauses of which should not face any alteration. However, if both parties agree, several clauses can be added. 

Keep in mind that these added clauses must comply with provisions regarding unfair contract terms mentioned in the Fair Trading Act 2010. These types of tenancy agreements can be for a fixed term or periodic.

4. Subletting

Subletting refers to a condition where a tenant rents a property and then rents it out to another tenant. They may rent the whole property or just a part of it. Here, the first tenant needs to obtain written consent from the landlord.

5. Inspection Report And Condition Of The Property

Within seven days of a tenancy commencement, a landlord may give the tenant a detailed report on the property condition. The tenant can take seven days more to review the report and mark anything they disagree with.

A landlord must make sure there is a proper vacancy, premises are clean, and all appliances and utilities are in working condition. 

6. Bond

You are likely to pay your landlord a security bond during the lease commencement. This security bond is for any unpaid rent or property damage you may be liable for at the end of the term. 

Your landlord has to issue a receipt for this bond, and the money needs to be lodged with the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to the Bond Administrator. 

If you have a pet and keep it on the premises, your landlord is allowed to charge you a separate bond.

Tenants’ Rights During A Lease

When the lease remains valid, the tenant and the landlord both have separate responsibilities to perform.

While you need to keep the property tidy and clean and look after the overall household maintenance, your landlord must ensure that the compound maintains all the health and safety laws. 

If you do any damage, you will be responsible for its repair. However, your landlord cannot charge them for damage resulting from wear and tear. For professional guidance, you may contact any top-rated property damage lawyer

-Responsibility For Repairs And Maintenance:

When something on the premises gets broken and needs a repair, you must seek your landlord’s consent before hiring a professional or fixing it on your own.

However, this rule may not be necessary when something needs an urgent repair because of its relation to an essential service like electricity or gas. But make sure that you inform your landlord about the urgency.

-Landlord’s Right To Enter:

Keep in mind that you have the right to enjoy the property with adequate comfort, peace, and privacy. Your landlord can enter the property for a valid reason, but they must issue a notice beforehand. 

The number of necessary notices will depend on their purpose of entering the property.

-Landlord’s Right To Increase Rent:

If your landlord wants to increase rent, remember that they can do it only when the tenancy agreement is a fixed one and more than six months have passed since the previous increase of the rent. 

Periodic tenancy agreements do not allow the landlord to increase the rent more than once every six months. 

Here also, the landlord has to send a proper notice.

Tenants’ Rights At The End Of A Lease

If you are a part of a fixed-term residential tenancy agreement, keep in mind that it will not expire automatically at the end of a particular term. If you or your landlord wants to end it, either of you has to issue notice to each other at least 30 days before the lease term’s end.

Also if the agreement does not end properly, it will be considered a periodic tenancy agreement. On the other hand, when it comes to a periodic tenancy agreement, your landlord has to give notice at least 60 days before the end.

But you are allowed to issue a notice at least 21 days before the end of the agreement. If you want to leave the tenancy early for unwanted reasons, you need to explain the exact circumstances. 

-Evictions:

If your landlord thinks you have breached the tenancy agreement, they may consider evicting you. In that case, they have to serve a notice to outline the breach and ask you to vacate the premises within a specific period. If you do not vacate, your landlord may ask the magistrate’s court to issue a court order. 

-Final Inspection And Return of Bond Money:

Once you move out of the property, your landlord will carry out a final inspection. If you do any damage, they may decide to draw the money out of the security bond you have paid at the beginning of the lease. 

If you disagree with your landlord’s damage assessment, you can refer to the inspection report prepared at the beginning of the lease. The magistrate’s court may issue the order when the case is not resolved.

-Resolving Disputes:

If you believe that a breach has been made on the landlord’s part, first try to resolve the matter informally and directly. If you become unsuccessful in this attempt, you can look for a more formal path where you need to use a particular form to outline the breach. 

Now, if the second process fails, you have to file a claim in the magistrate’s court. One of the top tenant lawyers Perth may help you with this. 

-Tenants’ Rights And Domestic Violence:

If you become a victim of domestic violence, you can move out of the lease without paying any penalty. Alternatively, you can also have the alleged person removed from the property. A lawyer is an ideal person to assist you.

Tenants’ Rights in Other States and Territories

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

  • Landlords need to lodge the bonds with the Office of Rental Bonds within two weeks of the lease commencement.
  • While you can lodge the bond directly, the landlord may not grant you property access until you show proper documentation of money deposits.
  • Before the commencement, they must give you ‘The Renting Book’.

New South Wales

  • You can pay the bond in installments or one lump sum after signing the agreement.
  • In the end, you have to complete the “Claim for Refund of Bond Money.”
  • When the rent increase is too excessive, you can apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal within 30 days of getting the notice.

Northern Territory

  • The tenancy agreement is divided into two parts, with the first part outlining the specific rights of the landlord and the tenant and the second part describing the property condition.
  • You can download the Department of Justice’s “A Guide to Renting in the Northern Territory” for details.

Queensland

  • Your landlord needs to provide you with a property compound in good condition, vacant possession at the beginning, adequate security, and compensation for expenses spent on emergency repairs.

South Australia

  • You must expect proper receipts for anything you pay, property maintenance and repair by the landlord, and the landlord taking the responsibility of paying council taxes and rates.
  • If you request, your landlord is bound to give records of rents they have received.

Tasmania

  • Your landlord can enter the property between 8 AM and 6 PM. However, they must give a notice 24 hours before.
  • They can carry out routine inspections only once every three months.
  • You are not required to submit a rent application.

Victoria

  • If you have children, your landlord cannot discriminate against you.
  • If they cannot give you an emergency contact number, the authority will find them.

Contact Property Lawyers Perth WA For Help

Whenever you face a significant issue regarding tenancy, you will likely be looking for the best property lawyer in Perth. Property Lawyers Perth WA is a reputed law firm with lawyers specializing in all areas of property laws. For legal help, you may contact them without hesitation.

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