Common Tenancy Topics
What should I do before handing back the keys?
1. Make sure the property is in the same condition as when you moved in, except for normal wear and tear.
2. Have a copy of the initial Inspection Sheet available to compare the condition of the premises at the end of the tenancy.
3. Check your written tenancy agreement for any special conditions. Not all special conditions are enforceable, though, such as having your carpets professionally cleaned.
4. Go through the premises with someone who has not lived there so you have a witness of the condition of the premises at the end of the tenancy. It is better if this person saw the premises when you moved in.
5. Write the details on your inspection sheet. If possible, take photographs (showing the date) or video the condition of the property. This can be used as evidence if there is a dispute.
6. Arrange a date for the final inspection with the owner/agent. Ensure you have a witness present at the final inspection. Ask the owner, in front of your witness, if they want to deduct anything from your bond and to put it in writing. Let the owner know if you disagree and why. If you agree you can both sign a bond refund form.
7. Make sure you keep your documents and copies of letters between you and the owner/agent in a safe place where you can find them easily after you move.
Residential Tenancies Act
What is the Residential Tenancies Act and what’s the difference between a periodic and fixed-term tenancy?
Your rights as a landlord or tenant are listed under the Residential Tenancies Act. The rights and obligations depend on the type of tenancy, as shown below:
- A periodic tenancy is an agreement (written, verbal or implied) for an uncertain period until it is lawfully terminated. A periodic tenancy has a start date and no specified end date.
- A fixed-term tenancy has a specific start date and end date agreed upon at the beginning of the tenancy (e.g. six or twelve months).
Student Checklist for renting
Before you sign the lease/rental agreement, make sure you understand all the conditions.
1. Important questions to ask your landlord:
a. How long is my lease?
b. Who do I contact for maintenance and repair issues?
c. What changes (if any) can I make to the property?
d. When will rent be due and how can I pay?
e. Does the rent price include utilities like water, gas and electricity?
f. Are there any fees I will have to pay other than rent?
Please see examples of rental agreements here
3. Check the house is in good condition before you move in.
4. Get a signed copy of the inspection sheet from your landlord/agent. Please see the example here. Remember to make note of any issues with the property that do not appear on the inspection sheet and confirm these with your landlord or agent.
Taking photos is also a good idea.
Lease Agreements Explained
A tenancy agreement is normally in writing and both the tenant and the landlord sign it. An agreement can also be verbal or implied. All tenancy agreements are legal contracts. However, if it’s in writing, the details of the agreement are easier to prove if you have a problem.
A written lease agreement must include:
- name, address, phone number and registration number of the agent if one is used
- landlord’s name and address – eg residential or postal address. Landlords who don’t have an agent must also provide a phone number.
- name of all tenants included in the agreement
- address of premises
- rent amount
- how and when rent is paid
- how long the lease agreement lasts
- who pays for water supply and use
- anything excluded from the agreement – eg tenant’s use of the shed.
- any other terms – eg rules about pets
- date and signature of all parties.
You can include extra conditions in a lease as long as they don’t contradict the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (166.7 KB PDF).
Fixed term agreements
Fixed term lease agreements (179.6 KB PDF) include a date the tenancy ends. The date can only be changed if the landlord and tenant agree.
Rent can’t be increased during a fixed term agreement unless a condition is included in the agreement. The date of the increase, the new amount and how it was worked out is needed, eg – Rent increases to $400 dollars a week from 20 December 2016 (calculated in line with CPI).
Ending a fixed term lease
The tenant or the landlord must tell the other person if the lease agreement is ending and not being renewed, at least 28 days before the end date. If no one gives notice, the agreement continues as a periodic lease.
Short fixed term agreements
Short fixed term leases are tenancy agreements for up to 90 days. Other conditions stay the same as a traditional fixed term agreement. The landlord needs to give the tenant a written notice of a short fixed term agreement (24.6 KB PDF) as well as a lease agreement. Both documents must be signed by the landlord and the tenant.
Things to consider before searching for accommodation
Living in the city
Living in a Suburb
Length of Stay
University accommodation, residential colleges and private rentals may require a minimum 6-months commitment. There is more flexibility at student hostels where you may have the option to stay as little as one day or up to 12-months (subject to availability).