Starting a tenancy - The tenancy agreement

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The landlord/tenant relationship begins when a landlord agrees to rent premises to a tenant.
 

THE TENANCY AGREEMENT Section 19-21

Generally a tenancy agreement is in writing, however if there is no written agreement the prescribed agreement applies.

THE PRESCRIBED AGREEMENT

The prescribed agreement specifies the terms and conditions of the tenancy which will apply whenever there is no written tenancy agreement or where the written agreement is not signed by both parties.

The prescribed agreement can be found in the Residential Tenancies Regulations, Schedule 2, Regulation 10 (obtainable from the Northern Territory Government Printing Office, phone 8999 4931 or downloaded from the legislation area in the Northern Territory Government website, http: //www.nt.gov.au/lant/hansard).

Where a landlord has entered into a verbal agreement with a tenant and no written tenancy agreement exists, both parties will be bound by the prescribed agreement. This may not suit either the landlord or the tenant’s particular requirements but it is legally binding. For example, in a situation where a security deposit has been paid, the landlord must comply with the provisions with the Act and hold the security deposit in trust for the tenant, despite verbal agreements to the contrary.

WRITTEN TENANCY AGREEMENTS

The landlord and tenant should ensure that there is a written tenancy agreement that contains all of the conditions required under the Act as well as terms that have been agreed upon.

There is no single required format for a written tenancy agreement. To assist landlords, the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory have produced a standard tenancy agreement that is available for purchase. Landlords and real estate agents may use any form of written tenancy agreement as long as the agreement used complies fully with the Act.

A G U I D E T O R E N T I N G I N T H E N O R T H E R N T E R R I T O R Y

STARTIING A TENANCY

The written tenancy agreement must include:

  • the standard terms and conditions set out in the Act;
  • the name and address of the landlord and tenant (and the agent if there is one);
  • details of the premises;
  • start and end dates of the tenancy (or just the start date for a periodic tenancy);
  • details about the amount of rent payable and how rent should be paid; and
  • any other terms agreed to by the landlord and tenant (these terms must not conflict with the Act).

If the landlord agrees to replace or repair something before the tenant moves in, this should be noted in the tenancy agreement. Any tenancy agreement prepared by a landlord must comply with the provisions of the Act.

A landlord faces a penalty for attempting to exclude, modify or restrict the operation of the
Act. Also, a tenancy agreement which is inconsistent with the Act is not valid in regard to those inconsistencies. PENALTY OF UP TO $11 000

The landlord needs to:

  • organise the tenancy agreement;
  • provide a copy of the agreement to the tenant;
  • complete a condition report in the presence of the tenant;
  • provide a copy of the condition report to the tenant;
  • sign the tenancy agreement once it has been signed by the tenant and returned; and
  • provide the tenant with a copy signed by both parties within 7 days.

The tenant needs to:

  • read the proposed agreement carefully, and understand it fully;
  • ensure that any information provided to the landlord is accurate and truthful;
  • negotiate any special terms required;
  • ensure any additional terms agreed upon by the parties are included;
  • sign the agreement if all the terms are agreed upon;
  • return the agreement to the landlord; and

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