3 things every tenant should know

23.8.13Renting can be an affordable way to live, especially if you’re saving up to buy a house. But when you’re a new addition to the rental market, you might not aware of all the ins and outs of leasing an apartment or house. So what are some important things to know? Here a few tips to tuck away for later.

1. You have a say

Many tenants are under the impression that they are at the whim of their landlord. They may be too nervous or wary about speaking up on potential issues, or unaware that they have the right to negotiate on certain issues. This is especially the case when it comes to rent increases. According to Fair Trading New South Wales, landlords are required to give you a 60-day notice of a rent hike. Make sure the letter contains specifics, such as the figure the price is being raised to, as well as the date it applies from.

If the notice is incorrect, you do not need to pay the prescribed rent – although, to stay on their right side, it could be a good idea to let the landlord or property manager know that they missed off this important information. In the same vein, you have the right to negotiate for a slightly lower price, or explain why you believe the rise to be excessive.

2. Report damage straight away

When you rent a house or apartment, you are reasonably expected to keep the property clean, tidy and to not cause damage, be it purposeful or otherwise. This does have its limits – depending on the length of time you have spent in the home, there are likely to be instances of general wear and tear. Before you move in, it is a good idea to have an inspection done to ensure that you are not blamed for any damage that was there at the outset – take pictures, if necessary.

Similarly, if something does break down over the course of your tenancy, make sure you report it as soon as possible – particularly if it is a feature that needs repairing urgently, such as a leak in the roof or an electrical fault. Your landlord is required to fix the issue within a reasonable amount of time, according to Fair Trading New South Wales – but the longer you leave a problem, the worse it could become. The last thing you want to happen is to be accused of negligence.

3. Never sign what you don’t understand

Above all, make sure you fully understand the lease agreement before signing on the dotted line – and if you are not 100 per cent certain, make sure to ask the landlord plenty of questions or seek advice.  For instance, Fair Trading NSW suggests checking that you are not expected to pay more than two weeks rent in advance, or more than four weeks bond. This can help you avoid any problems further down the line, as well as stopping the landlord from imposing unlawful terms.

Once you have got a handle on the above points, you will be well on your way to a problem-free tenancy.

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