The Application For Tenancy
Most Real Estate Agents and some private owners will ask you to fill in anapplication form when you show interest in renting a place.
You should make sure you understand what the form says before you sign it. Ask the owner/agent to explain anything you don’t understand.
Take the form away and get advice before you sign it. Be wary if the owner/agent is unwilling to allow you to take the form away to get advice before you sign it.
Don’t sign an Application Form until you know what you are agreeing to. Make sure this is the place you really want because if the application isaccepted, you will have committed yourself to the tenancy.
For this reason, only apply for one property at a time. If you are accepted as a tenant, but you decide you don't want the place, you could be held liable for the owner's costs.
For example, you may have to pay advertising costs and rent until new tenants are found. Or the owner/agent may try to hold you to renting the place for time period as stated in the application form.
What Is An Application For Tenancy Form?
The Application Form does not secure your tenancy to the premises. The information asked for in the form helps owners/agents decide whether they want to rent the place to you.
There is no standard Application Form. It may be different from owner to owner and from agent to agent.
The REIWA form is used by most real estate agents. An example of an Application to Rent Residential Premises and a REIWA (Real Estate Institute of Western Australia) Standard Application and Offer of Option to Lease Residential Premises can be found at the end of this chapter.
The application form may ask for:
- Your name
- Your present and previous address and rental details (how much rent paid; agent or owner’s name and their address and phone number)
- References from your previous landlord (see section in this chapter on ‘getting references’ if you have not rented before)
- Current employment details (name, address, income)
- Contact details (name and telephone number) of a personal reference
- Bank details
- Next of kin (your immediate family) name and contact details
DISCLAIMER: While making every attempt to present general legal information accurately in this publication, TAS claims no liability for any loss or damage arising from its use. This publication should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.
The application form may also ask you to specify:
- How long you would like to rent the place for
- The dates you would like to start and/or finish renting the place
- How many people (adults and children) will be staying at the premises
- Whether there will be any pets
- Whether you intend applying for Department of Housing (DH) Bond Assistance (this is not for DH tenants - see Financial Assistance for Tenants for more information)
The application form should also itemise all the costs involved if you were to sign up for tenancy, such as:
- Rental payment amount
- Security bond
- Rent in advance required; and
- Pet bond (if chargeable).
The amounts listed on the application form are the amounts you are agreeing to pay if successful in your application, so make sure you check and agree with this amount before signing the application form. See What Will It Cost to Move In for more information.
Supplying Personal Information
The Application for Tenancy form may require you and your friends or family (if they plan to live at the house too) to supply a lot of personal information. Some application forms may require a “100 point identity check” which can include:
- Photo ID for each applicant, such as a drivers licence or passport
- Written references from previous landlords or agents (see section below on how to get rental references)
- Proof of last address (such as a copy of last phone or electricity account)
- Copy of previous rental receipts (or bank statements if you have been using ‘direct credit’ for paying rent)
- Copy of last rental lease/tenancy agreement
- Proof of income such as a letter of employment or a social security/Centrelink statement
Tenancy workers may be able to assist you in getting all the necessary paperwork together for the Tenancy Application Form – see Community Contacts.
There are three types of references:
- 1) Work reference (a letter written about you by your current or previous employer);
- 2) Character reference (a letter written about you by someone, other than your family, who has known you for a while);
- 3) Real estate agent or landlord’s reference (a letter saying you paid your rent on time and were a good tenant).
If you haven’t rented before, you will have problems getting a reference from a previous landlord! However, you could try to include in a character or work reference something like the following statement: “...that he/she has known you for a long time and that he/she has good reason to believe that you would make a reliable and responsible tenant.”
You may also need to consider other rental options such as agency assisted/supported accommodation as a way to develop your rental history. See Community Contacts for a list of agencies that may be able to help you.
Know What Kind Of Tenancy You Want
Try to determine what kind of tenancy suits you best BEFORE signing the application form. There are basically two types of tenancies:
- 1. Fixed Term tenancy agreement (meaning you rent for a fixed time period, such as for 6 or 12 months).
This type of lease has a definite end date, meaning that if you move out of the property before the finishing date on a Fixed Term Tenancy Agreement, you may have to pay advertising and rental costs until other tenants are found OR until the lease ends. See Ending a Fixed Term Tenancy for more information.
TENANTS BEWARE! Some application forms may already state you are agreeing to take the premises for a certain amount of time, for example 6 months, and may state the amount of rent that is to be charged.
If you do not agree to the time written on the form, you can change the time period and initial the change. Be aware though that this may place you at a disadvantage if there is another applicant who will agree to the time period.
- 2. Periodic tenancy agreement (meaning you rent for an unspecified time).
This type of lease has NO fixed end date. When you want to move out, you must give the owner/agent 21 days notice and the owner/agent must give you 60 days notice to move out. See Ending a Periodic Tenancy for more information.
Some Questions To Ask Before Signing
If possible clarify these points in the tenancy application:
- Who pays for water costs? (Try to arrange it so that you don't pay more than 50% especially if you are maintaining the garden). Also see Water Charges.
- Is electricity connected through Synergy or through sub-meters? If it is through sub-meters, is there any charge for the owner/agent to read the meter and send you the bill? Also see Electricity and Gas Meters.
Do I Have To Answer All The Questions On The Form?
NO! You don't have to answer all the questions on an application for tenancy form.
Some of the information asked for can be personal. For example phone numbers, bank account numbers and drivers licence numbers. You should think very carefully about whether or not you want to let anyone have personal details before you fill anything in and sign it.
However, be aware that if you refuse to answer all the questions the owner/agent may refuse to rent the place to you. They may be suspicious about why you will not answer all the questions.
If you don’t answer all the questions, your application may not be approved.
What If I Don't Want To Agree To Something In The Form?
You may cross out anything you don't agree to. You may also change the wording to something more acceptable. You and the owner agent must initial any change.
Can I Add Anything To The Application Form?
YES, you can add to the application form. If there are special conditions you want met, make sure you discuss them with the owner/agent before filling in the application form. For example, any cleaning or repairs that are needed.
Write the conditions on the form and initial each of them. Ask the owner/agent to initial them too. If the owner/agent has agreed to something verbally but will not put it in writing, it may indicate that they have no intention of doing what they have said.
It will be very difficult to prove the owner/agent agreed to something if you don't have it in writing.
Should I Worry About The Small Print?
YES! Many application forms have a section written in small print which containing conditions that can affect your application, your tenancy and sometimes take away your rights.
Always check what is written in the “special conditions” section of the form.
Some examples are discussed below:
Loss of Option Fee - the law says that option fees should be refunded if you don't take the tenancy. However, some application forms state that you agree the option fee will be kept by the owner if you are accepted but decide not to take the place. If you sign the form agreeing to this you are agreeing to waive your right to a refund (see The Option Fee for more information).
Notice at End of Tenancy - some application forms state that you will give notice in accordance with section 68 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA) in the event of you wanting to move out.
This would require you to give 21 days notice in writing if you want to vacate at the end of the fixed term.
However, this section of the Act only applies to periodic tenancies, not tenancies for a fixed term (see Ending a Fixed Term Tenancy for more information).
Direct Debit – some application forms state may ask you to agree to have your rent paid directly out of your bank account. You can try negotiating with the owner/agent as to when the rent is to be paid (weekly, fortnightly, monthly).
For direct debit, you do not receive rent receipts for paying rent as it should be recorded on your bank statements.
Tenancy Databases - some application forms state that you agree to your personal details being listed on a tenancy database. If there is such a clause included in the form, try to negotiate one or more of the following suggestions (although your success will largely depend on the attitude of the owner/agent you are dealing with):
- 1) Removal of such a clause (although this is unlikely and the owner/agent may think you are trying to remove the clause because you have something to hide);
- 2) The clause to be changed to say the owner/agent can only list you in certain circumstances and saying what those circumstances are; and/or
- 3) The clause to be changed to require the owner/agent to tell you if you are to be listed and what information about you is going to be provided to the Tenant Database.
What If My Application Is Unsuccessful?
- If you paid an Option Fee, it should be refunded unless you have signed something in the application form that waives this right.
- Real estate agents and owners do not have to give you a reason as to why
you were not offered the tenancy. However, if you have suspicions that your application was not successful due to your personal or physical characteristics, you may have been discriminated against.
What is discrimination?
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA), it is unlawful to refuse someone accommodation because of their (or their relative’s or associate’s):
- Gender (male/female),
- Impairment (such as a disability),
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status (whether you are married or not),
- Religious or political beliefs (or lack of),
- Gender history (transgender)