The best tenant-landlord relationships are those that don’t require a lot of back and forth.
That’s why it’s worth getting all the important questions out of the way up front, so the tenant can enjoy their new home and the landlord can rest easy knowing there won’t be any hiccups down the road.
Here are the top six questions that we hear tenants asking, and our answers.
Q1. Who pays for rental repairs?
Before a tenant moves into a property, it’s the landlord (or property manager’s) responsibility to prepare a property condition report. This document will note any repair and maintenance issues and will be completed a second time after the tenant moves out.
In terms of standard repairs and maintenance issues at the property, the landlord is responsible for paying for those fixes – whether they make the repairs themselves or hire an external contractor.
However, the tenant is expected to keep the property in good and clean condition, and if they are the cause of the damage then the landlord has every right to ask them to cover the costs.
Q2. Do I have to pay the water bill when renting?
The landlord will pay the standard water rates, however just like gas and electricity, most tenants will be charged for the consumption of their utilities – water included.
In the rental agreement, it will outline whether or not the electricity, gas and water services are separately metered. If this is not the case, then there must be a calculation (made clear in the agreement) about how the tenant’s costs will be worked out.
It’s recommended that landlords organise a special meter reading from the Water Corporation, as this will reduce the chances of any disputes about water charges.
Q3. How can I ensure I get all my bond back at the end of the lease?
When a tenant’s application to rent a property is accepted, they will pay a security bond (typically four times the weekly rent) in addition to their first rental payment. This is retained by the landlord until the tenant moves out.
There are a few instances where a tenant may not receive all of their security bond back at the end of the lease. The landlord is allowed to use that money to cover outstanding rent, unpaid utility bills, cleaning fees or property damage. Make sure you are aware of what is considered fair wear and tear (the landlord’s responsibility) versus negligent damage (the tenant’s responsibility).
Q4. What happens if I need to move out before the end of the lease?
Typically, residential tenants sign a lease for either six months or a year, and as the end date approaches, they may be offered the chance to extend that lease.
However, what happens when a tenant signs a lease for a specific period and then needs to move out early? We understand that this can happen for various reasons, despite best intentions. In WA, renters may incur significant costs for breaking a lease, including:
- Compensation for loss of rent.
- Advertising costs as well as the cost of tenant-database checks.
- Final vacate fees.
- Reimbursement of unused portion of the re-letting fee.
The best-case scenario is for both the landlord and tenant to agree to terminate the rental agreement. Other options include moving out but continuing to pay rent and utilities until the landlord finds another renter, or the tenant finding another party to move into the home.
Q5. Can my pet live with me in the rental?
Because house prices are out of reach for a lot of Australians, many state governments are introducing new laws to help tenants find a place to rent with their pets. In Western Australia, landlords are currently under no obligation to allow pets to live in their rental property. However, they may decide to give permission for pets, and this must be stated in the lease.
A pet bond will typically be included for properties that allow pets, however, it’s worth noting that WA law states that landlords can only request up to $260 for this – for example, to cover the costs of fumigating after the tenant and their pet moves out. Sometimes having a pet CV and good references can increase your chances of a landlord agreeing to have a pet in the property.
Q6. How often will my rent increase?
There are many regulations around rent increases, some of which will be outlined in the tenancy agreement you sign. As a guide, landlords cannot increase the rent within the first six months, and it can’t be increased more than every six months after that. Tenants should also generally receive 60 days’ written notice of a rent increase.
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