What should be in my rental agreement?

There’s no escaping the fact that property prices are rather high in Australia. Therefore, a large number of people will be involved with the rental market, and because there are probably more renters then properties to lease, it’s important that renters are aware of their rights, especially when it comes to what their residential agreements should entail.

What disclosures are to be made before a rental agreement has been reached?

Prior to signing an agreement, either the landlord or an agent acting for the landlord must not induce a potential tenant to sign a tenancy agreement via false, misleading or deceptive statements, representations or promises.

Furthermore, before a landlord is able to enter into an agreement with a tenant, either the landlord or the agent must disclose the following:

  • if the property is to be sold, or there has been preparations made for a contract of sale in relation to the rental property;
  • if a mortgagee is undertaking action for possession of the property, or has commenced proceedings in a court to enforce a mortgage over the rental property.

Beyond the disclosure requirements, certain material facts in relation to the property must also be made, which can include whether the property has been subject to flooding or bush fire damage over the preceding years, whether the property has been subject to any health and safety risk not apparent to a reasonable person upon inspection of the premises, or the property is part of a shared driveway or walkway, may be some of the material facts that must be made to a tenant before an agreement has been reached.

What are the standard terms that should be in a rental agreement?

Residential tenancy agreements should have a number of standard terms, and generally speaking, such terms cannot be varied by a landlord.

Some of the most important terms that cannot be varied include:

  • the existence of an agreement;
  • the right to occupy and possess the property;
  • the amount of rent that should be paid, which includes either increases or reductions in rent;
  • rights such as the right to quiet enjoyment, and to use the property;
  • the obligations of the landlord in relation to the property, such as urgent repairs and access to the property.

The above standard terms is just an outline and do not include all standard terms that should be in a leasing agreement.

Landlords must provide a written agreement at the commencement of the leasing period and depending on the laws of the jurisdiction, landlords may not be able to increase the rent for a specified period, nor are they also allowed to terminate the agreement if no grounds are provided.

Are landlords allowed to add any other terms beyond the standard terms?

Generally speaking, landlords can include additional terms in the rental agreement but the terms must not conflict with any relevant Acts, regulations, and must not be inconsistent with the terms set out in the standard form.

If a tenant is dissatisfied with the additional terms, they may make a request to a landlord or the agent to vary or remove the additional terms. Alternatively, an application can be made to a State or Territory tenancy tribunal to make such terms void.

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