When you’re renting for the first time it can feel like there’s a lot to get your head around. Because you’re signing a contract to live in a property that someone else owns (a lease), you can’t do things in the same way as you would if you owned the property. You have certain responsibilities – but you also have rights.
To help you navigate this terrain, we’ve put together our top 4 tips.
Renting is a relationship between you and the landlord
Signing a lease means that you’re entering into a contract with the landlord, meaning it is a contractual relationship, one with certain legal boundaries that are designed to protect the landlord’s interests, as well as yours as a tenant.
You might have heard about or experienced situations where one party seems to have more rights than the other. Rental relationships are constantly being defined and redefined by groups who advocate for the interests of each party. But don’t let this intimidate you! To get the most out of your tenancy, you simply need to understand the terms of the agreement you’re entering into and what your responsibilities and rights are under that agreement.
Read your lease
Your first go-to place is your lease. Most of the time, leases are a mixture of stock standard components – such as rental terms that are required to be in all leases by law, and any special conditions that are individualised to your landlord and the property that you are renting.
This is a document that you’ll need to read over a few times until you get familiar with it. It’s also a good idea to pull it out and revise it whenever something arises with your tenancy – for example, if you need emergency plumbing or electrical repairs, many leases will state the individual tradesman or company you need to contact for this.
If you are unsure about any aspect of your lease, talk to your agent or lawyer. You can also use resources such as the tenancy advice services that are located in every State and Territory.
Know your responsibilities
Your responsibilities tend to be outlined exhaustively in your lease. Many of your responsibilities will be common things like keeping the property in good condition. Ensure you know and understand your responsibilities under the leases is important, so read it closely.
Know your rights
As a renter, you also have rights; some of which may be included in your lease. They include things like notice periods that landlords have to give you before increasing the rent, conditions for the landlord completing necessary repairs to the property, and any requirements to fulfil basic living conditions.
Details about your rights vary depending on where you live. To found out more information, or if you have any concerns, contact the tenant’s services in your State or Territory, or your State/Territory regulator (e.g. Fair Trading in NSW). Tenants services and regulators often have factsheets on their websites so you can easily access important information.
Now that you have some knowledge about the fundamentals of renting, you’re ready to make the most of your life as a tenant. Happy renting!