For most of us, a home is more than just a bed and a roof that keeps the rain off our head.

Home is where we can enter a comfortable state of mind, relax into our favourite chair and forget about anything that happens outside the front door for a while.

Before you move in

Before choosing a particular property to rent, it is important to take a number of things into consideration:

  • Is the house / apartment close to public transport, friends, shops, work and school?
  • If there is a yard, can you manage it?
  • Is it noisy or near a busy road?
  • What’s the parking like?
  • Is there good security / are there locks on the windows and doors?
  • How is the rent paid? Do you pay at the agent’s office / direct to bank account?

Amount of bond

Charging a rental bond is not mandatory, however the maximum rental bond that can be asked for is equivalent to Four weeks rent:

The amount of bond that is to be paid (if any) must be written on the agreement.

After the bond is lodged, all parties should receive an advice of lodgement that includes the unique rental bond number. During the tenancy, the bond is held by the Rental Bond Board who are the independent custodian of rental bonds paid by tenants to landlords for residential tenancies. NSW Fair Trading administers the day to day functions of the Board, providing rental bond lodgement, custody, refund and information services.

Beginning the tenancy

Under the law your landlord or agent must give you a tenancy agreement. This agreement must be in writing. Once you sign the agreement you must receive a copy of it and a copy of the Renting Guide.

The tenancy agreement comes in two parts:

  • Part 1 – The terms of the agreement. This sets out what you and your landlord agree to do during the tenancy.
  • Part 2 – A condition report. This describes the condition of the premises at the time you move in.

If you believe the condition report is not accurate because it fails to include things like a cracked shower screen, you should make a note of this and anything else that is missing from the report. Return it to your landlord or managing agent within 7 days. Make sure to keep a copy. The condition report is important if a dispute arises over the condition of the premises at the end of the tenancy.

Rent

You and the landlord should agree on the rent you will pay and the method of payment before you move in. Make sure these arrangements are written into your tenancy agreement. The landlord or agent must always give you a receipt for your rent unless you deposit the money into a bank account.

The landlord or agent must give you at least 60 days written notice if they want to increase the rent outside of the fixed-term of the tenancy agreement.

During the tenancy

Non-urgent repairs and maintenance

The landlord or agent must make sure the premises are reasonably clean and fit to live in when you move in. The landlord or agent must then maintain the premises to a reasonable standard by carrying out repairs and maintenance if needed.

From 1 May 2006, when the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 came into effect, the landlord is responsible for fitting a smoke alarm to the premises. The landlord must fit a new battery (if the alarm has a replaceable battery) at the beginning of the tenancy. During the tenancy you are responsible for replacing batteries.

You must not attach any fixture or make any renovation, alteration or addition to the premises without written permission from the landlord or agent.

You must not intentionally or negligently damage the premises. You are responsible for damage caused by other occupants of the premises or any person you allow on the premises.

You must notify the landlord or agent of any damage to the premises as soon as possible, regardless of whom or what caused the damage. It is a good idea to put it in writing.

Urgent repairs

An urgent repair is when something breaks that may make the premises unfit to live in or cause a potential safety risk or interrupt access to water, gas or electricity supplies. If the premises need urgent repairs, tell the landlord or agent immediately. The landlord or agent is then obliged to organise urgent repairs as soon as reasonably possible.

How to avoid problems

The following may assist you in avoiding problems:

  • If you receive a notice of a Tribunal hearing you should always attend
  • Make sure you have read and understood the tenancy agreement before you sign it
    take good care of the premises
  • Do not interfere with the peace, comfort or privacy of your neighbours
  • Confirm anything you agree to in writing and send your landlord or agent a copy
  • Keep paying the rent even if you are having a dispute with the landlord. Contact Fair Trading for help to resolve the dispute.

Ending the tenancy

Written notice must be given by either landlord or tenant if a tenancy agreement is to be ended. The notice can be posted or given personally.