Each State and Territory has different laws on residential tenancies. If the applicable residential tenancies legislation does not cover a specific situation, then the rights of the parties are determined by the contract, subject to any statutory modifications. It is important to have a contract lawyer review your tenancy agreement before you enter into it to ensure your rights are protected. If you are a landlord, you must have it properly drafted to ensure it does not exclude the operation of the legislation.

Before Entering Into a Tenancy Agreement

Prescribed forms of tenancy agreements can be found in the majority of jurisdictions, except for Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. These prescribed forms provide for some essential terms, which must be included in the agreement. Every time a tenant enters into an agreement, they are entitled to receive a copy of the agreement.

Tenants are also entitled to receive a condition report, which will cover the condition of the property from both parties. If there are arguments over the condition of the property, this should be resolved before signing the agreement; otherwise, this may cause a conflict between landlords and tenants at the end of the agreement.

All jurisdictions in Australia permit the charging of a rental bond, which is generally capped to the equivalent of four weeks rent. This bond must be registered and paid to a government rental authority (except in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, where it is paid into an approved trust account). A landlord is prohibited from accepting anything other than rental payment and bond payment. They may not request payments for key deposits or money for the security of objects on the premises.

During the Tenancy Agreement

If you have a tenancy dispute, you should approach your state or territory’s specialist tribunal that deals with disputes arising in a tenancy. A tenant has the right of quiet enjoyment during their tenancy and not have their use of the premises interfered by the landlord. A tenant is entitled to seek damages for any breach of their quiet enjoyment.

Landlords may enter premises in some limited situations, including the inspection for the need of repairs, routine inspections, and allowing prospective tenants to view the property towards the end of the agreement.

Ending the Tenancy

All jurisdictions regulate the ending of tenancies. Generally, a tenancy cannot be terminated during a fixed term. In the event a landlord wishes to move back into the property, or place the property on the market, or requires possession to carry out renovations or repairs, legislation provides for terminating a periodic tenancy. Landlords must follow the strict notice requirements which may include completing forms. Our lawyers can assist draft a Notice of Intention to Vacate if a tenant is seeking the termination of the tenancy.

Conclusion

Once a tenancy agreement is over and both parties are satisfied, rental bond money should be returned. In the event of a dispute, make sure you clearly read through your Tenancy Agreement to understand your rights. Our lawyers can assist landlords draft or complete their agreements, as well as help tenants with understanding their Tenancy Agreement. Contact us on 1300 544 755 or fill in the form on this page for more information.

Anthony Lieu

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