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Tenants in Australia: The importance of the tenancy agreement
In the excitement of finding and moving into new accommodation, it is hard to imagine there will ever come a time when you will leave. That’s particularly true if the new house or flat is in just the right location, and at just the right price. With so much to organise before moving in, it is easy to forget the importance of the tenancy agreement you must sign.
How to move in and out, and live happily in between
The importance of the tenancy agreement is to avoid issues arising between you and your landlord regarding rights and responsibilities. It is the only sure way of getting in, and out, of that rented room, flat or house, without dispute arising at some point.
A tenancy agreement enables you to relax and enjoy your life there. But it must be comprehensive in its coverage of everything you and the landlord have discussed, and agreed on. Misunderstandings, disagreements and disputes can be disruptive, uncomfortable, and costly in the long term.
The importance of the tenancy agreement
This sense of security works both ways. The importance of the tenancy agreement applies equally to tenants in Australia, and to the landlords, property owners or agents, who rent properties to them.
Document and sign everything, even what might seem like small details, so that anything you’ve negotiated becomes part of a formal agreement. And keep all forms, copies of e-mail correspondence, and relevant photographs in a safe place. Then, if issues arise, you will have the backing of evidence, the law, and those state and community bodies who can help you reach a fair resolution.
Getting it in writing
Important issues to agree on include payment for utilities, like water and sewage, the use and maintenance of garden space (if there is one) and clauses regarding repairs, behaviour and pet ownership.
In general, property owners are responsible for ensuring availability and maintenance of necessities, and for paying any service charges. This includes services like sewage and water, the building, and any common areas like gardens and swimming pools.
Tenants in Australia usually foot the bill for usage of utilities. They are also responsible for keeping the space they occupy in the same condition as it was in when they moved in. Inspections carried out on occupation and departure assess whether they do so properly.
Tenancy agreements should also cover notice periods, required bonds for lodging with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, and whether subletting is permissible. As these differ from place to place, comprehensive and relevant details should be included with your tenancy agreement.
What to do if disputes arise
Tenants and property owners do get protection from the law. The chief arbiter is the Residential Tenancies Act. Most states also have Residential Tenancy Tribunals to investigate complaints from either side of the tenancy arrangement.
This is where the importance of the lease agreement comes in. If things go wrong, it is vital that you have a formal signed tenancy agreement and documented evidence of any other interaction between tenant and property owner.
Property agents help you steer clear of pitfalls
Property agents aren’t just there to collect rent. They’re also there to ensure that both the owner of the property and the tenant know where they stand before the tenant moves in. Because of their experience in handling these complex transactions, they are able to reduce the chances of a dispute ever arising. So, get professional help when seeking a new home to rent or when renting out a property you own.
- Landlords Beware: The pitfalls of renting to family or friends
- Understanding your Residential Tenancy Agreement
- The importance of your Property Condition Report
We hope you enjoyed this article
The information contained in this article is based on the authors opinion only and is of a general nature which is not indicative of future results or events and does not consider your personal situation or particular needs. Professional advice should always be sought relevant to your circumstances.
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