Beginning a Tenancy

Applying for a Rental Property

A number of real estate agents require prospective tenants to complete a detailed application form before they will be considered for a tenancy. Often these forms require a lot of personal information including current and previous addresses, your occupation and employer’s details, bank details, drivers license number and car registration, passport number, referees and credit history.

The Act does not prevent a landlord or agent asking this information. You could certainly choose not to disclose requested information that you believe is not relevant to tenancy, for example your student number. However, if you do not provide the information that is requested there is potential that your application will be at a disadvantage. If an agent or landlord accepts your application they will offer you the premises. If you decide that you do not want to go ahead with the tenancy you should let the owner know immediately and not agree to, or sign a lease. If you decide that you are no longer interested in the property before the owner offers you the place, you should advise them that you wish to withdraw your application. If a landlord or agent does not accept your application they are not obliged to tell you why. However, it may be worthwhile to ask them if they can suggest anything that may make your application more successful in the future. If you think that you have been unfairly refused a tenancy, for example, on the basis of age, race, religion, parental status, sexual orientation, irrelevant criminal record, disability or gender of any of the applicants you should contact the Anti-Discrimination Commission (Phone 1300 305 062).

Types of Tenancies

There are two types of tenancies. Fixed term agreements are for a set period of time, usually 6 or 12 months. You should not sign a fixed term lease if you do not intend on staying for the full term, as breaking a lease can be expensive. Non-fixed term agreements have no end date. A tenancy agreement may be verbal, in writing or a combination of both. If an agreement is in writing it must be legible, clearly expressed and if printed, font size 10 or more. The landlord/agent must provide you with a copy of the written agreement within 14 days of the agreement commencing.

Security Deposits and Condition Reports

If you are required to pay a security deposit (which cannot exceed 4 weeks rent) the landlord/agent must provide you with 2 copies of a report stating the condition of the property at the beginning of your tenancy. You should inspect the property thoroughly and note on the report anything that you find. It is also a very good idea to take extensive dated photos of the property at the beginning of your tenancy. Once you have completed the condition report you must sign and return a copy to the landlord / agent (within 2 days of your tenancy beginning).

Holding Fees

A landlord or agent can charge you a holding fee if you are offered a property but cannot move in for more than a week (7 days). You can only be charged a holding fee if the premises are unoccupied. The Act does not state how much an owner of agent may request as a holding fee.

If you are Under 18

Persons under the age of 18 may enter into a tenancy agreement. The agreement will be binding on both the tenant and the landlord.