Rules and regulations governing tenant rights in Australia can be more than just a little bit confusing. It’s true that a majority of laws are pretty much the same across the country. But there are also some that differ from state to state.
States including Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales have followed the same landlord and tenant laws for several decades without change. Others have experienced minor changes, mainly covering up front fees, bond maximums and pet ownership.
By understanding your obligations as a tenant, you can avoid many of the often overlooked pitfalls that can cost you your tenancy and your home. At Leased. We think everyone should know where they stand without mess or confusion. So to give you a head start, here are all the basics to keep you covered.
Being Asked to Leave
In this section, we will dig deeper into your landlords obligations when requesting you vacate the property or ending your tenancy agreement early. This will cover both fixed-term and periodic rental agreements, which varies across the different states and territories.
Australian Capital Territory
In the Australian Capital Territory, your rights as a tenant will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have. With a fixed-term rental agreement, the landlord cannot evict the tenant unless the terms of the tenancy agreement have been breached.
For periodic agreements, landlords are able to evict tenants with 26 weeks advance notice without cause or just four weeks notice with cause. For this reason, a fixed-term rental agreement offers more security for tenants in rental properties.
Once the fixed-term agreement has finished, landlords must provide a minimum of 14 days notice to end the tenancy agreement. For a lease that is ongoing and has passed that period, landlords are required to give tenant a minimum of 42 days advance notice.
In New South Wales, a fixed-term lease cannot be ended prematurely by the landlord unless the tenant has breached the agreement. If the landlord wants to request you to vacate the property at the end of your fixed-term lease, 30 days advance notice must be given.
For those on a periodic lease in New South Wales, 90 days advance notice must be given to the tenant to vacate the rental property. The exception to the rule is if the tenant breaches the terms of their tenancy agreement, in which case only 14-days notice is required to be given.
For fixed-term tenancy agreements in Queensland, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they have breached the terms of their agreement. It is also possible to end the rental lease early with mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant.
Looking at periodic leases, the landlord needs to provide the tenant with two months advance notice to be able to prematurely end the tenancy agreement.
Tenants in South Australia need to be given a minimum of 28 days notice to vacate the property when a fixed-term tenancy comes to an end. For periodic leases, landlords are required to give the tenant 60 days notice if they have a valid reason to terminate the agreement. Valid reasons include occupying the property themselves or demolition of the building. Without a valid reason, 90 days advance notice must be given.
At the end of a fixed-term agreement, landlords are required to give a minimum of 42 days notice to vacate the property with a valid reason. This includes if the landlord wants to sell the property, have family members live there, perform significant renovations, transfer ownership to someone else, or use the building for purposes aside from rentals. 42 days notice is also required should the landlord not want to renew the lease toward the end of its term. Tenants considered to be a substantial nuisance can be evicted with 14 days notice. No notice is required for nuisance tenants if taken through the courts.
In Victoria, fixed-term rental agreements cannot be ended prematurely unless the tenant has breached their tenancy agreement. For periodic leases, landlords are required to give a minimum of 60 days advance notice along with providing a valid reason for giving notice. Valid reasons include wanting the property for family to live in or to sell it. Without a valid reason, the landlord must give a minimum of 120 days advance notice.
in Western Australia, tenants must be given at least 30 days advance notice to end a fixed-term tenancy at the end of the agreement. This is the same for periodic tenancy agreements should the landlord wish to sell the property. If the landlord wants to terminate the agreement without a valid reason, 60 days advance notice must be given.
Landlord Accessing Your Rental
In this section, we will look at what rights you have as a tenant when it comes to your landlord accessing your rental property. The laws and regulations can vary wildly from state to state, making it hard to know your rights. We also look at emergency access to clear up any confusion.
Australian Capital Territory
If your landlord wants to access your rental property in Australian Capital Territory for a routine inspection, seven days notice must be provided. Inspections must be conducted between 8 am and 6 pm and cannot be performed on public holidays or Sundays. This is what’s known as ‘reasonable’ time. To perform an inspection outside of these times, the landlord first needs to get your consent. Over the course of the year, four inspections can be made. Typically, one is performed at the start and end of your lease, and two during the term of your tenancy.
For property rentals in the Northern Territory, inspections can only be performed once every three months. The landlord or agent needs to provide a minimum of seven days notice and is not permitted to enter the property unless the tenant is present. The tenant can grant access without their presence if they so wish.
For property rentals in New South Wales, landlords are required to provide you with written notification at least 7 days in advance as a minimum. Throughout the course of 12 months, your landlord is entitled to perform up to four separate inspections.
In Queensland, tenants need to be given seven days advance notice from their landlord before a routine inspection is made. A maximum of one inspection in any three month period is permitted.
South Australia permits the highest number of inspections allowed in any one year. Landlords are entitled to perform an inspection every four weeks, which equates to thirteen in a 12-month period. However, to do so they will need to provide the tenant with written notice at least seven to 14 days in advance.
In Tasmania, landlords only need to give 24-hours advance notice to be able to enter the property for an inspection. Over the course of a year, up to four inspections can be made. However, only one inspection is permitted every three months.
Victoria also requires just 24-hours advance notice for general inspections. Your landlord needs to give you written notice, and can only do so twice a year. Inspections are not permitted during the first three months of commencing your tenancy.
Landlord Emergency Access
In all states except Victoria, landlords are not required to give notice to enter the rental property in emergency situations. An emergency situation is typically considered as urgent repairs, potential property abandonment or concerns over tenant welfare.
In the state of Victoria, landlords need to give a minimum of 24-hours notice and be given your consent to be able to enter your rental property in emergency situations.
Keeping Pets at Your Rental Property
For many people, pets are an important part of their family unit. In this section, we take a closer look at the laws that prohibit and grant tenants to legally keep pets in their rental property across the different states and territories. If you are a pet owner, you’ll find this information particularly useful.
Australian Capital Territory
In February 2019, state government laws came into force in the Australian Capital Territory regarding keeping pets in rental accommodation. All renters are entitled to keep a pet in their rental property unless the landlord can demonstrate reasonable grounds for refusal.
In the Northern Territory, there’s currently no legislation that specifically relates to pet ownership in rental properties. Whether pet ownership is allowed or not is entirely at the discretion of the landlord. If a no-pet policy is written into the tenancy agreement, negotiation is possible. However, it is against the law for the landlord to ask for a pet bond in exchange for approval. Pet bonds are illegal in the Northern Territory.
in New South Wales, the Residential Tenancies Act does not cover pet ownership. Landlords are well within their rights to introduce a no-pet policy clause into the lease. However, it is recommended to request permission to move a pet in, even when your lease makes no mention of pet ownership.
Pet owners in Queensland must currently get written approval from the landlord to keep a pet in the property. Upcoming state reforms are expected to change this situation so that all tenants are entitled to keep pets on the property. Currently, it’s approximated that just 10% of all landlords allow pet ownership on their properties, making it tougher than most other states for pet owners.
In South Australia, tenants are only allowed to keep a pet at a rental property with written consent from the landlord or agent.
Keeping a pet in a rental property in Tasmania is much the same as in South Australia. To be able to do so, the tenant must first get consent to keep a pet in the property from the landlord.
In Victoria, landlords are able to include a ‘no-pet’ clause in the rental lease. However, new reforms expected to be introduced in July 2020 will prohibit landlords from including ‘no-pet’ clauses. As and when this is introduced, tenants will be entitled to keep pets on the property unless the landlord can demonstrate reasonable grounds to refuse it.
In Western Australia, landlords must grant permission for tenants to keep a pet. The pet must be included in the rental agreement. Landlords are able to charge a ‘pet bond’ if they grant permission for keeping pets in the rental property. Western is the only state in Australia where pet bonds are allowed. This covers any necessary fumigation and cleaning at the end of your tenancy agreement and can be a maximum of $260.
Other Tenants Rights in Australia
The legal rights of tenants renting property in Australia have some common rules and regulations that run across the board. However, while the laws are the same, the ways they are implemented can differ. It’s always good to know where you stand when it comes to your tenant rights.
Urgent repairs that pose a danger to you or your family or disrupt your quality of life should be raised with your landlord. Landlords are required to provide an immediate response to your concern as soon as you raise it.
Urgent repairs cover situations such as gas leaks, burst water pipes and flooding, broken or blocked toilets, electrical wiring faults or damage that compromises structural integrity, etc.
For non-urgent repairs, such as general maintenance to keep the property in a habitable condition, landlords are required to carry these out as necessary.
The cost of repairs for any damage that is not the fault of the tenant is the sole responsibility of the landlord to cover. Tenants are not required to pay any fees associated with such costs.
Non-Payment of Rent
When a tenant raises concerns regarding urgent or non-urgent repairs and the landlord fails to act upon them or refuses to carry repairs out, rent cannot be withheld.
However, you are entitled to lodge an application with the tenancy tribunal to have rent payments held in another account. If granted, the landlord is unable to access rent payments until the necessary repairs are complete.
Rent increases on non-fixed-term leases are allowed every six to twelve months depending on which state you reside. The only exception to this rule is the state of New South Wales, where there are currently no limits in place. However, it’s important to note that rent increases are prohibited in the first year in all states and territories.
In the Northern Territory, South Australia, West Australia and Victoria, rent can be increased every six months. In the Australian Capital Territory, rent increases can only be implemented once every 12 months.
60 days advance notice of an increase of rent must be given in all states except the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
Regardless of tenancy agreement type, 30 days notice must be given in the Northern Territory. In the Australian Capital Territory, 8 weeks notice is required. While in Queensland, fixed-term agreements require one month’s notice and periodic agreements require 2 months notice.
Rent increases must not be excessive. If you feel the rent increase is excessive, you can apply to the appropriate service in your state to prevent it.
Typically, tenants are expected to pay a rental bond and rent in advance. This covers the rest of unpaid rent, tenant damage to the property, and failure to pay for services.
How much you pay will depend on the state you are renting in and the type of lease you have. Most states have limits on how much the landlord can ask you to pay in advance.
- Australian Capital Territory. A maximum of one month’s rent can be asked for in advance.
- New South Wales. Four weeks. Unless the weekly rent is less than $300, which is then capped at two weeks.
- Northern Territory. Maximum equivalent of one single rental payment period.
- Queensland. Two weeks rent in advance for periodic agreements and one month for fixed-term agreements.
- Tasmania. Capped at a maximum advance payment of one month.
- Victoria. Rental prices of less than $350 a week are capped at one month.
The amount tenants will pay for a rental bond depends on the type of lease they have and the state the tenancy is held in.
- Australian Capital Territory
Bonds to be lodged with the Office of Rental Bonds. A maximum equivalent of four weeks rent can be requested in the Australian Capital Territory.
- New South Wales.
Bonds to be paid to the Renting Branch of the Office of Fair Trading. Rents of less than $250 a week are a maximum of four weeks for unfurnished properties and six weeks for furnished properties. For weekly rent of more than $250 a month for furnished properties, no limit is set.
- Northern Territory.
No more than the equivalent of four weeks rent can be requested as a bond in the Northern Territory.
Bonds must be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Authority. For rents of less than $500 a week, a maximum of four weeks can be requested. For rents above $500 a week, no limits are in place.
- South Australia.
Bonds to be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Fund. Weekly rent of less than $250 is capped at four weeks. Weekly rent of over $250 are capped at six weeks.
Bonds are lodged with the Residential Tenancies Bonds Authorities. Weekly rentals of less than $350 a week are capped at four weeks rent. Rentals of over $350 a week will be determined by the Tribunal upon landlord application.
- Western Australia.
The maximum bond in Western Australia is capped at an equivalent of four weeks rent.
At the end of tenancy in most territories and states, bonds need to be lodged with the appropriate bond authority.
If a dispute is raised, a third party will hold the bond until it has been resolved. In most cases, you can independently apply to receive your bond in dispute cases.
As an example, those renting in Victoria facing a bond dispute with the landlord can directly apply to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal to receive their bond. Likewise, in NSW, the tenant would apply directly to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal.
Reasonable Wear and Tear
When renting a property, leases and rental agreements are often filled with chameleon words. Why are they called chameleons? Because they don’t exactly come with a clear definition and can change depending on who’s claiming their meaning.
One of the finest examples of a chameleon word is wear and tear! Some agents and landlords will scream blue murder if your hands and feet aren’t permanently encased in bubble wrap. Others are way more relaxed and get that it’s everyday people just going about their lives… and quality can sometimes deteriorate.
At the end of your tenancy, you are going to want to claim back your bond. This is where most problems arise. A few underhanded landlords have given the majority of decent landlords a bad name by trying to claim usual wear and tear as tenant damage. If you’re unlucky, you’ll end up with one of these. And boy, will you know it!
So what exactly amounts to wear and tear? Basically, any natural damage or deterioration that occurs in the property due to normal, everyday use is considered fair wear and tear. This could include:
- Scuffs and marks on the floor from furniture and foot traffic.
- Flaking paint or peeling wallpaper.
- Cracked window or door frames.
- Rusty hinges or garden gates.
- Worn down worktops in the kitchen.
- Faded or frayed curtains.
- Wall cracks from movement.
- Carpet or floor damage from leaks or flooding.
- Bathtub discolouration due to use.
- Loose electrical sockets and light switches.
And what isn’t considered as fair wear and tear when renting a property?
- Damage caused to the property or its furnishings from pets (such as a cat clawing the sofas and curtains).
- Cigarette burns or wine stains on the carpet or sofa.
- Children scratching wooden floors with something other than their feet or when moving furniture.
- Children scribbling over walls or furniture with pens, pencils or crayons.
- Unapproved renovations, such as painting the walls or changing flooring, especially if it’s a bad quality job.
- Damage to paintwork from removing posters attached with tape or Blu-Tack.
- Holes in the walls from hanging pictures or putting up shelving.
- Broken windows caused by rough play or an avoidable action from the tenant.
- Knife marks or burns on kitchen counters.
- Stained or damaged flooring caused by watering indoor plants or an overflowing bathtub.
- Broken bookshelves and tables caused by children climbing on them.
To avoid losing your bond due to excessive damage claims, you should fill in a rental condition report on the day you move in. Take note of any excessive damage and notify the landlord or agent of it and have them sign the report. Taking photo and video evidence provides you with additional proof should a claim arise.
Basically, natural deterioration of the property and its furnishings from everyday use are classed as fair wear and tear. Any damage that occurs outside of this is at the sole discretion of your landlord or property agent.
Know Your Tenant Rights by State
Stay up to date and in the know with legislation set out by your state or territory. Below, you will find links to the Residential Tenancies Act for the state you are renting in.
|Australian Capital Territory||Residential Tenancies Act 1997|
|New South Wales||Residential Tenancies Act 1987|
|Northern Territory||Residential Tenancies Act 1999|
|Queensland||Residential Tenancies Act 1994|
|South Australia||Residential Tenancies Act 1995|
|Tasmania||Residential Tenancies Act 1997|
|Victoria||Residential Tenancies Act 1997|
|Western Australia||Residential Tenancies Act 1987|
Get Ready to Get Leased.
Know exactly where you stand when it comes to your tenants rights when leasing a property through Leased. Find your dream Central Coast property today and enjoy knowing your rights as a tenant are well protected!
For more great info and advice covering rental properties, property management and building your property portfolio, check out our blog today! Everything you need to know in one smart little place.