Rookie Tenant? Do You Know Your Rights?

June 1st, 2015

​As a newbie tenant you are probably excited to live in a rented flat/house for the first time in your life. The experience itself is great most of the time, but it could be challenging and frustrating if you don’t know your rights and obligations.

Here are the most commonly asked questions

#1 Is my landlord allowed to enter the property without a notice?

All sensible landlords keep a spare set of keys to their properties. However, no landlord is allowed to enter the premises unannounced or worse when you are not there at all. According to the State Tenancy Act, a landlord is allowed to enter a currently rented property under limited circumstances and all of these include emergencies. For example, you are away on a holiday, but there is a leak and the neighbours downstairs have noticed it already. In such a case the landlord has the right to enter without a notice and fix the problem. Other emergency repairs that don’t require a notice include fire safety hazards, gas leaks, etc.

The State Tenancy Act also states that a landlord cannot inspect the property more than four times in a twelve month period. We imagine more than that would just be a harassment.

#2 My property needs repairs, who is responsible for them?

Your landlord. In addition, according to the State Tenancy Act, urgent repairs, require urgent action, again from your landlord. As noted above urgent repairs require immediate attention and typically involve: water damage, gas leaks, or electrical faults.

If you have alarmed your landlord or agent and no action was taken, an urgent repair could be paid by the tenant. In this case, you can be reimbursed if the fault was not in you and the total amount does not exceed $1000. The repairs must have also been carried by a licensed professional. This is why we also recommend you hire a licensed and professional cleaning company when it comes to the end of lease cleaning. If your landlord is unhappy, you can get a re-clean of the property for free (we offer 72 hours guarantee).

#3 My landlord increases the rent at a rate I cannot keep up with? What can I do?

In most cases landlords cannot randomly increase the rent as they please. They have to follow the legal requirements of the contract. If a lease is coming to an end, but the rental relationship is going to continue, a landlord has to give a 60-days notice if he plans to increase the rent. If you feel this increase to be excessive, you can file an application to the State consumer and tenancy tribunal and they will investigate it by taking into an account a series of factors, including comparable rates in the area and the general condition of the property.

Useful Info: Read more in Tenants’ rights manual, the guide for tenants.