What Tenants Need To Know About Their Rental Contract

You’ve found your dream rental home and your application has been approved.

Congratulations! Now it’s time to sign the tenancy agreement. But what does it mean when you sign on that dotted line?

What is a tenancy agreement?

The tenancy agreement, or rental contract, is a legally binding contract between you and your landlord. It gives you the right to live in the rental property in exchange for paying rent and sets out both your and your landlord’s rights and responsibilities. It outlines the conditions of your tenancy, including whether your lease is a fixed term or periodic agreement, how much rent you have to pay and how often, and whether garden maintenance is your responsibility or that of your landlord.

What are a tenant’s rights under a rental contract?

In addition to your tenancy agreement, residential tenancies in WA are also subject to the Residential Tenancies Act. You have rights as a tenant, and they include:

  • Having a copy of the tenancy agreement and the ‘Information for Tenant’ form provided to you at the start of the lease.
  • Being provided with a clean property to move into.
  • Having adequate security and a working smoke alarm at the property.
  • Having your bond money safely deposited with the State Government’s Bond Administrator.
  • Having a condition report for the home, noting any damage, provided to you before you move in. You’ll then need to return it to the landlord or property manager within seven days of the lease starting, with any additional damage noted.
  • Being given seven to 14 days’ notice of an inspection and 72 hours’ notice of access required for repairs – unless they are urgent.
  • Having maintenance and repairs carried out within a reasonable timeframe. The landlord must sort out all repairs, but the tenant is liable for the cost if the damage is their fault.
  • Being given 60 days’ notice of a rent increase.
  • Quiet enjoyment of the property during your tenancy.

What happens if you breach the tenancy agreement?

Because it’s a legally binding contract, there can be serious consequences if either you or your landlord break or breach the tenancy agreement. You should make sure that you understand and agree with the conditions and obligations in the agreement before you sign it.

Breaches of a tenancy agreement include:

  • Breaking a fixed-term lease – when you’re deciding how long you want your lease to be, remember that if you break a fixed term agreement early, you’ll incur certain fixed costs. You also must keep paying the rent until a new tenant is found.
  • Not paying the rent – your landlord can have your tenancy terminated if you fall behind in your rent and can’t make up the payment within an agreed timeframe. Your landlord might send you a breach notice giving you 14 days to bring the rent up to date. Or they might give you a notice of termination for non-payment of rent, which means that if the overdue rent isn’t paid within seven days they can apply to the Magistrate’s Court to terminate the lease. If you don’t pay the outstanding rent within the seven days, you will then have to pay the cost of the court application fee plus the original rent arrears.

You can also breach your tenancy agreement by:

  • Keeping a pet when not allowed
  • Sub-letting the home when not allowed
  • Not keeping the home reasonably clean
  • Causing damage to the property
  • Changing the locks without the landlord’s approval
  • Causing a nuisance to the neighbours
  • Not watering or maintaining the garden and lawn as per your tenancy agreement
  • Using the property for business purposes without your landlord’s approval
  • Using the home for an illegal purpose

The process of issuing a formal notice of breach is designed to get the problem sorted out, but it can lead to asking the tenant to leave. If a tenant believes that their landlord is in breach of the rental contract, they can follow a similar process.

Are you looking for your dream Perth rental home? Contact our friendly team today.

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