Landlords and tenants – understanding your rights

Market Insights
4 years ago
4 minutes

Renting and letting can be a delicate partnership. On the one hand, the tenant wants to feel secure and free in their own home, on the other hand, the landlord wants their property kept in pristine condition. 

Knowing exactly what your rights are, whether you’re the renter or the owner, can be confusing – especially if you are moving interstate. 

As the cost of home ownership continues to increase, more and more rental disputes are occurring, so it’s more imperative than ever to know your basic rights. 


Believe it or not, bonds are not mandatory in every state in Australia – but that hasn’t stopped every rental agreement having one. 

Every owner, perhaps understandably, wants a cash security to protect them against damage inflicted to their property or amounts owing to them by the tenant at the end of their tenancy. 

For the renter, however, it’s always an unenviable task to hand over large sums of money you won’t see again until the lease has ended.

For most states, including New South Wales and Queensland, the maximum the landlord can charge is four weeks rent. For Victorians it’s a little different – expect to pay one month’s rent unless the rental price is above $350 per week. In this case, it can be any amount negotiated between the parties. 


Maintenance and Repairs

This can often be a hotly disputed topic, especially when vague terms like ‘reasonably clean’ and ‘general wear and tear’ are bandied around.

Generally speaking though, repairs can be classified as either urgent and non-urgent. 

Urgent repairs are up to the landlord to fix, and typically include a burst water service, a dangerous electrical fault or a blocked/broken toilet. 

Non-urgent repairs refer to non-essential services that were once working when you moved into the property. So, appliances like a broken dishwasher or a broken air conditioner are up to the tenant to fix. 

What constitutes urgent or non-urgent can often be found on the tenancy agreement itself, but you can find a clear list on each relevant state government website. 

Privacy and entry 

Many tenants have received the dreaded email from the landlord or estate agent requesting a ‘routine check-up’ of the property at short notice. But how long does the tenant have to do a spring clean of the property before the owner can enter?

Again, the minimum notice periods and maximum frequency of routine inspections differ in each state and territory.

In Victoria at least 24 hours written notice is required, while in New South Wales and Queensland it’s a full seven days.

These notice periods do not include other reasons for entry such as an emergency, repairs or maintenance so, once again, pay close attention to your relevant state’s laws.


Mandatory notice periods and evictions

Feeling secure in a fixed term contract is an important aspect for all tenants. If you are one, don’t worry — both parties are obliged to honour this section of the contract.

The tenant is also largely protected when the landlord opts to sell the property. The lease remains valid during and after the sale, which means no one is forced out of the house or apartment if it changes hands.

What does differ from state to state, however, is the notice and frequency of viewings. In New South Wales, landlords must provide tenants two weeks written notice before the first inspection, while Queensland and Victoria require just 24 hours.

All this, of course, becomes void if the tenant violates the terms of the lease during any period. If the incident or act is severe then the landlord may have grounds to evict the tenant.

However, eviction is often not an instant process. First, the owner must give the occupier a letter to vacate – but the notice period depends on the severity of the incident and in what state the contract was broken. Usually, this fluctuates between seven and 14 days, but make sure you give your contract a thorough read. 

If that doesn’t give you the information required for your specific case, then peruse over your state’s Government body website: