When a landlord and a tenant agree upon an amount of rent to be paid in exchange for the use of a residential premise, the tenant is then said to have obtained residential tenancy. The tenant pays the rent to the landlord, and in return receives the right to occupy the leased property, the tenant must also usually pay a bond upon moving in to the premises. A residential tenancy agreement can be written, made verbally, or even implied. However, it is strongly recommended that all agreements by formalised and secured in writing to protect the interests of both parties.

What are your Rights and Responsibilities?

While landlords get a say in the tenant that resides in their property, they aren’t allowed to discriminate or refuse residential tenancy based on the following traits:

•   Gender
•   Age
•   Race
•   Pregnancy
•   Mental Illness
•   Sexuality
•   Marital Status
•   Disabilities

Tenants have the right to be provided with suitable security (eg locks on doors and windows) for different parts of the property and also to have the premise in a good, livable state. This means it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair any damaged parts of the house (providing the tenant is not responsible for the damage) and to reimburse the tenant if they have to spend money on emergency repairs.

People provided with residential tenancy will have many responsibilities to uphold, if they do not meet their side of the tenancy agreement they could be forced out of the property and/or may not receive their bond back at the end of the tenancy period. For these reasons, it is important that a tenant:

•   Pays the correct amount of rent on time, (negotiations can be made with the landlord to determine how often rent must be paid).
•   Maintains the cleanliness of the premises.
•   Prevents any hazards or damage to the premises.
•   Uses the premises for legal purposes only.
•   Respects neighbours and their privacy, without interfering with the comfort of their home.
•   Receives approval from the landlord to allow a defined number of people to live in the premises.

Upon moving in, a tenant must fill out a condition report within the first seven days. It is important that every single issue with the property is listed in this report, regardless of how big or small it is. This is because at the end of the residential tenancy the landlord has the right to withhold the bond if they find any issues or damage to the house that will require money to be fixed. By filling out the condition report correctly, disputes over the bond at the end of the agreement can easily be resolved. For example, if the damage was not listed in the report, it must have occurred during the residency period of the tenant and the landlord has the right to keep the bond to put towards the needed repairs. If it was stated on the condition report then the tenant should receive his or her bond back.

If there are disputes between the tenant and the landlord or one party has not upheld their part of the agreement (eg the tenant did not pay rent) legal action can be taken. To minimise the possibility of any disagreements it is recommended that both tenants and landlords keep written records of all incidents and important events. This includes the residential tenancy agreement, a copy of the condition report, receipts for rent and bond money, as well as letters and written records.

It is important to be aware of exactly what you are signing in your contract and what it implies. Here at The Quinn Group our experienced team of lawyers, conveyancers and accountants can assert your rights and responsibilities either as a landlord or tenant when it comes to residential tenancy. For more information on renting properties or any other Conveyancing issue submit an online enquiry. Alternatively call us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.