Understanding Real Estate Tenancy Agreements

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As a legal document make sure you spend time reading and understanding what you are signing.

A tenancy agreement is a written agreement between a tenant or resident and a property manager/owner.  As it is a legally binding contract, spending time reviewing the agreement before you sign it is critical.

All tenancy agreements must include the following:

  • The name and address of the tenant, and the property manager/owner or provider
  • The dates when the agreement starts and ends (or state that the agreement is periodic)
  • Details about how the tenant should pay the rent and how much rent is to be paid
  • Any special terms (these should be agreed in advance, e.g. that dogs are allowed but must be kept outside, no smoking etc)
  • The period of tenancy agreement
  • Fixed term agreement - where a tenant/resident agrees to rent a property for a fixed amount of time (for example, 6, 9 or 12 months)
  • Periodic agreement - when a tenant/resident lives there for an indefinite period

Other points to consider

  • A written agreement must always be used when renting, even if the person renting is family or a friend.
  • The tenant should be given the agreement before paying any money or being committed to the tenancy and should read it and ask questions if they do not understand anything in it.
  • If a tenant does not have a written agreement, they still have protection under the law.
  • After thoroughly inspecting the property, if you identify any maintenance issues that need to be rectified, ensure they are added into the tenancy agreement with a time frame to be fixed

Responsibilities of the landlord/property manager

The landlord/property manager is responsible for:
  • Meeting all the costs of preparing the tenancy agreement
  • Ensuring the correct form is used and completed
  • Providing a copy of the proposed agreement along with any relevant body corporate rules, if applicable, to the tenant before they sign it. The landlord/property manager must provide a copy of the tenancy agreement to the tenant prior to them moving into the property.
  • Ensuring that, when an agreement is signed, there are no legal problems that would prevent the tenant from living in the premises for the length of the tenancy
  • Ensuring the premises are in a good state of repair, meet Healthy Homes Standards by the stated compliance date on the tenancy agreement and ready for the tenant to move into on the agreed date.

Keep good records

A year can be a long time, and it's easy to lose documents or throw out old paperwork. Don't let this happen with your tenancy agreement. It's a vital document that you will need when the lease ends, and is effectively the rules you must live by in the house.

Keep this, any bond lodgement forms and copies of emails in a specific folder, upload it to the Cloud and email it to yourself for safe keeping. Nine times out of 10 they won't be needed to resolve a dispute, but better safe than sorry! Taking photos of the residency before you move in is also an excellent idea, to prove the condition of the dwelling both before and after your tenancy.

For a thorough understanding of current rental regulations, visit Tenancy Services.

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