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I’m a first time renter, what should i know?

By Cameron Smits

Renting for the first time? This is what you should know…

So, you have finally decided to fly the coop! Whether you were pushed or had to break free for whatever reason, going out on your own is always a big deal. It marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life, you will experience things that you haven’t before. Before moving out and renting there are a few things you should know:

  1. How a lease works

A lease is the most important thing to understand when renting a property. It’s the legally abiding contract between yourself and the landlord, this contract defines how long you will be renting the property, how much you will pay each week and what is expected of you whilst living there.

  1. Paying Rent

The method of which you are expected to pay rent should be stated in your lease agreement, this could be cash, electronic bank transfer, EFTPOS etc. If you pay cash, you should always be given a receipt.

  1. What are your rights?

You are entitled to certain rights when named on the lease. For example, the landlord can’t force you to pay for things that are general maintenance and repairs of the property.

You also have the right to privacy, meaning the landlord or estate agent can not show up unannounced or pester you. Different states around Australia have different laws regarding the rights of a tenant.

  1. Bond

A bond is the money that you pay at the beginning of a tenancy agreement to provide financial security for the landlord in case you breach the tersm of your lease. Essentially, its designed so that if you damage the property at all during your lease period, the landlord has the right to keep your bond to use for repairs and cleaning when you leave. For most properties, the bond is the cost of four weeks rent.

If sat the end of the lease, you have left the property damaged, unclean (besides ‘fair wear & tear’) or if you owe rent, you may not be able to claim your bond back at all. The landlord has the right to claim the reasonable costs of cleaning and repairs from your bond, hence why it’s so important to leave it just as you found it when you moved in.

  1. Leaving the property

When your lease expires, you may be offered to renew your lease or you can move out. If you require to end the lease, you are required to give usually 2-3 weeks’ notice in writing prior to the end of the lease date.

Although, as we know, life is full of unforeseen and unexpected circumstances which may require you to move out sooner than the end of lease. Unfortunately, this can result in having to pay the compensation to the landlord for the loss of income caused by you ending the tenancy agreement early. This can includes re-letting fees, advertising costs, and rent until a new tenant is found.

You should make sure the property is left clean and in a well-maintained condition. You will need to meet these expectations in order to get your bond back. It is a good idea to go through your entry condition report closely to ensure the property matches how it was when you moved in.

  1. Repairs & Maintenance

It is your duty as the tenant to keep the property clean and un damaged, but it is the responsibility of the landlord or the landlord’s property management to make sure the property is in good condition for the tenant to live in.

Your landlord must organise and pay for repairs that are necessary, including emergency repairs. If problems aren’t fixed once notified within a reasonable amount of time, you may be eligible to end your tenancy agreement or claim compensation from the landlord.

  1. The importance of neighbours

Establishing a relationship with your neighbours is important, especially if you are living in a complex or apartment block as often there are several owned by the same landlord.

When you have an existing relationship with your neighbours this is likely to cause less stress for everyone involved, this means that is there are any issues (noise complaints) the neighbour is more likely to take the issue up with you directly instead of to the landlord or police. The other size of this is that they can be very handy if you are going away, most neighbours would be willing to collect your mail, put your bins out or feed your animals.

  1. What not to do without permission

The lease should state what you can and cannot do without permission form the owner. You usually need permission from your landlords to have pets or make changes to the property (e.g. minor renovations, new flooring, painting).

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