Renting

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Renting under the age of 18

A person may enter into a written Residential Tenancy Agreement in order to rent in Western Australia. The agreement may be oral or in writing, although it is strongly recommended that tenants enter into a written agreement which will provide a clear record of your rights and obligations as a tenant. A Residential Tenancy Agreement is a contract that will state the terms of your rental, such as the duration and rent payable.

Age may not be a restriction to renting in Western Australia. A person aged 16 to 18 years may enter into, and will be bound by a Tenancy Agreement in Western Australia.

Parents have a legal responsibility for their children until they are 18 years of age. Your parents have the responsibility of ensuring that you have a safe place to live. If you leave home before you turn 18, your parents may seek assistance from the police or the Department of Child Protection and Family Support to have you return home.  Whether you are likely to be required to move back home will be dependent upon many factors. You will not be required to return home if it is unsafe for you to do so.

A landlord cannot discriminate against a potential tenant on the basis of age.  A landlord may, however, have a number of reasons for rejecting an application for tenancy.  It may therefore be difficult to prove that you have been discriminated against on the basis of age.  You may lodge a complaint with either the WA Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission if you believe you have been discriminated against.

Applying to rent

People under the age of 18 sometimes have difficulty finding a landlord that is willing to rent them their property.  They may be worried that you will damage the property or cannot afford the rent. Here are some things to include in an application for rent that may help your application:

  • provide copies of identification, such as a driver’s license;
  • provide proof of income, such as payslips from your job or a statement from Centrelink; and
  • provide references (2 is recommended) to show that you are a responsible person. For example, these could be from past employers or a school teacher.

Bond

A landlord may ask you to pay up to 4 weeks rent as a bond upon entering into a lease. This will provide the landlord with security in case you breach your rental agreement in certain ways, such as by not paying your rent. The landlord is required to deposit the bond with the Rental Accommodation Account, who will hold the money until you or the landlord makes a claim for the bond to be paid.  Usually the tenant gets the bond back at the end of the lease. Your landlord can ask you to pay up to 4 weeks rent as a Bond. Your landlord can also ask you to pay up to 2 weeks rent in advance, which is often called a ‘holding deposit’ so make sure you budget for these costs.

There are two ways you can get your Bond back after your tenancy agreement has ended:

  • you can get a refund if both you and your landlord agree on how much you should get back. The amount will be calculated after the final inspection and will take into account anything that you have broken or needs cleaning. Fill out this form after you had both agreed on the amount; or
  • if you and your landlord can’t agree on the amount, you can challenge it by making a claim on your own. If the landlord disagrees with your claim, you might have to go to a hearing.

Can landlords refuse to return your bond?

Your landlord can make a claim for any intentional, negligent or irresponsible damage you have caused. This is because you have a responsibility to keep the rented premise reasonably clean and not to cause any damage.  After you discover a claim has been made against you, try to get your landlord to change their mind or lodge a claim with SAT. Your landlord cannot make you pay for the cost of rectifying damage caused by normal use, such as:

  • Paint fading and discolouring over time;
  • Worn carpet due to day‑to‑day use;
  • Garden mulch breaking down over time.

Damage that you may be responsible for includes:

  • Cracked window panes or glass arising from careless slamming of the windows;
  • Paint discolouring due to candle smoke;
  • Garden mulch that has been dug up by a pet.

If you think that a claim has been made against you unfairly, try to get your landlord to change their mind or lodge a claim with SAT.

Issues with the landlord

Your landlord must make sure property is reasonably clean, do what’s reasonable to provide quiet enjoyment of the property and make sure the property is in good repair.

Responsibilities when renting

You must allow the landlord to enter when they have the right to, not cause a nuisance or disrupt neighbours, avoid damaging the property and common areas, not damage the property or allow damage by anyone you allow on your property, tell the landlord as soon as possible if the property is damaged, keep the property in a reasonably clean condition and not make changes to the property without permission from your landlord.

For both landlords and tenants

If either you or your landlord do not do all the things you are responsible for, the other person can may be able to terminate the tenancy, request compensation or apply for a Tribunal order to make the person in breach fulfil their responsibilities. Even if your landlord fails to fulfil their responsibilities, you should keep paying rent, otherwise they may be able to terminate your rental tenancy agreement.

Rent

Increases in rent

Landlords can increase your rent but there are certain rules they must follow. If they do not follow the rules, then you do not have to pay the increase and your landlord:

  • can only increase your rent once every 6 months; and
  • must let you know of any rent increases, 60 days beforehand, in writing and include certain details e.g. the amount of the increase and the date when the increase starts.

You can challenge the rent increase by applying to the court (you must make a request within 30 days of being informed told of a rent increase). However, if the landlord complies has complied with the rules above, you should pay the increased amount even if you are in the middle of challenging it. If your challenge is successful, your landlord may be made to return your money.  See Tenancy WA for more details.

Missed rent payments

Tips on what to do if you’ve missed a rent payments:

  • contact contact your landlord or real estate agent ASAP and tell them when you will be paying;
  • offer to pay the overdue rent over a period of time (if you can’t afford to pay it all at once);
  • keep written copies of all communication with your landlord or /real estate agent as evidence; and
  • contact your local housing services that may be able to give you financial assistance.

If you are late on rent, your landlord may notify you and give you 14 days to pay. If you do not pay in that time, they can notify you in writing to leave the property within another 7 days.

See Tenancy WA for more details.

Issues with other tenants

Co-tenants

Co-tenancy is when there are two or more tenants who have signed the same lease. If you are Co-Tenants then you will be Jointly and Severally Liable under that agreement. This means that if you leave before your lease is up but your name remains on the Tenancy Agreement, then you may still be liable for the rent payments., therefore You should make sure that you let your landlord know in writing if you leave your property, so your name can be removed from the lease. Your responsibilities as a Co-Tenant include:

  • all rent (including your Co-Tenants share if they don’t pay); and
  • damage to the property even if it was not caused by you.

Therefore you can be sued required to pay for payment of rent and damage to the property and/or be evicted even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

Sub-tenants

Sub-tenancy is when one or more of the tenants are the Head-Tenant and the others are the Sub-Tenant.  Only the Head-Tenants’ name(s) will be on the lease. The Head-Tenant is responsible for all the actions of the Sub-Tenant. The Head-Tenant becomes the landlord for the Sub-Tenant and will be responsible for all the things a landlord is responsible for. A tenant may sub-let the property but this depends on the terms of the agreement. If the tenancy agreement does not include a term about subletting then you can sub-let the property with the written permission of the landlord.

See Tenancy WA for more details.

Ending your tenancy

You may end your Tenancy Agreement by coming to a mutual written agreement with your landlord, by assigning your agreement to another person, where the property is uninhabitable or acquired by the government and by providing the correct notice to your landlord or real estate agent at the end of your Tenancy.  You may apply to the Magistrates Court to have your tenancy agreement terminated if continuing your Lease would cause you undue hardship or if your landlord commits a serious breach of the agreement.

You can use this form to give your landlord notice of intention to terminate your lease for any of the below reasons.

Ending by Agreement

You may end your Lease if you are able to come to an agreement with your landlord.  To do so, tell your landlord that you want to move out. They may refuse or they may ask you to pay them some money to find a new tenant.  If they are willing to let you end your Lease, get note whatever agreement to come an agreement in writing, and set a date to return the keys and move out.

Ending by assignment

If your tenancy agreement allows you to assign your lease to another person, or does not say that you cannot do so, you may be able to end your tenancy agreement early by assigning it to somebody else.  If your agreement does not say that you can’t do so, but doesn’t say that you can either, have a term about assignment then you will need to get your Landlord’s written consent permission to assign it to somebody else.

If you are permitted by the tenancy agreement or get your Landlord’s consent to assign your lease, move out and return the keys on the agreed date.

Ending due to the property being uninhabitable

If the property is severely damaged or the government compulsorily acquires it, you will be able to end your tenancy agreement.  To do so, you must give your landlord a written notice of termination. using form 1C.   After giving your Landlord the completed form, you may move out and return the keys two days later.

Ending by giving correct notice

You may end your Tenancy Agreement by giving the correct notice under your agreement.  If your Tenancy Agreement is a Fixed Term Tenancy Agreement, you will not be able to validly end your agreement by notice before the end of that Fixed Term.  You will, however, be able to end your agreement after that time by giving written notice to your landlord at least 30 days before you intend to move out. On that date, move out and return the keys to your landlord.

If your agreement is a Periodic Agreement, you may end your agreement at any time by giving your landlord written notice that you intend to move out in at least 21 days. On that date, move out of the property and return your keys.

Terminating for undue hardship

You may also apply to the Magistrates Court to have your tenancy agreement terminated if continuing your lease would cause you undue hardship.  Undue hardship is a high standard, and is usually established by serious medical or safety issues. It is common for the court to award a landlord compensation for the early termination, so you may owe your landlord money if the lease is terminated.

Terminating for breach

If your Landlord has breached your tenancy agreement, you may be able to apply to the Magistrates Court to have your tenancy agreement terminated if a court is satisfied that your landlord’s breach justifies terminating the agreement.  A court will be satisfied if you have provided notice to your Landlord of the breach, and they have either refused or failed to fix the problem.

Getting back property

If the goods are worth less than what it would cost to remove/store/sell them, your landlord can apply for an Abandoned Goods Certificate and then dispose of the items in any way they wish.

If the goods are worth more than what it would cost to remove/store/sell them, your landlord must store them safely for 60 days. They must also notify you within 7 days.

If you leave behind any personal documents (such as a passport, birth certificate, photographs or anything else that would be reasonable for you to want to keep), your landlord must notify you and attempt to organise a time/place for you to collect the documents. You have 60 days after the end of your tenancy to collect the documents.

Blacklisting

Blacklisting is a process that involves a tenant being added to a Tenancy Database.  A tenancy database may include information about you as a tenant that might make it harder for you to rent a property in the future. Information can only be added if it is based on sound evidence and isn’t hearsay.

A landlord considering your application who comes across your name on a database must tell you they saw the information and give you details about the listing.

Blacklisting is a process that involves a tenant being added to a Tenancy database.  A Tenancy database may include information about you as a tenant that might make it harder for you to rent a property in the future.

You may be added to the Tenancy database after your tenancy has ended. Your name will only be added if:

  • before leaving the property, you breached the tenancy agreement for an amount greater than the bond; or
  • the court ordered your tenancy to end because of something you did wrong.

Your landlord must inform you if they want to put your name on a Tenancy database. A landlord considering your application who comes across your name on a database must also tell you.

You can request the Tenancy database listing to be changed or removed.  Write to your landlord using this sample.

If that doesn’t work, you can appeal to SAT. You can appeal to SAT if the listing is more than 3 years old.  You can also appeal to SAT if you think the listing is unjust, inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date (you have repaid the bond difference or the court’s termination order wasn’t enforced). SAT may then order for the listing to be removed or changed.

Definitions

  • ACAT – ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • Assignment – a transfer of a legal or equitable right.  In regards to tenancy, the right in question is the right to possession of the property.
  • Bondmoney the tenant pays as security in case they breach the residential tenancy agreement
  • Break Fee – A Break Fee is a specified amount that you have to pay your landlord for breaching your Tenancy Agreement.c
  • Compliance Order – If your landlord has failed to remedy a breach, VCAT may issue an order that they do so.
  • Co-Tenant – If someone else has signed your Tenancy Agreement as a tenant, you will be considered co-tenants.  This is usually the case if you are renting as part of a share house.
  • Exit Condition Report – In Queensland, you must provide your landlord with a report detailing the condition of the property when your tenancy ends.  The Exit Condition Report details the state of the property, noting any damage, and is vital for getting your Bond refunded.
  • Fixed Term Tenancy Agreement- when the landlord and the tenant agree that the lease will last for a specific length of time e.g. 6 months, 1 year.
  • Goods – items that are not perishable, not dangerous and are worth more than what it will cost to remove, store or sell them.
  • Head-Tenant – if you enter into a tenancy agreement with a landlord and then enter into another residential tenancy agreement with a tenant to let another person occupy the property for rent, you are a head-tenant and the person you allowed to occupy the property is a sub-tenant
  • Joint and Severally Liable – you can be sued for the actions of your co-tenant (even if you were not at fault).  However if you are sued and it was not your fault, you can then in turn sue your co-tenant. For example if your landlord sues you for damages to the property that your co-tenant caused, you may be asked to pay for the damages.  Then you can sue your co-tenant for the money that you had to pay in damages.
  • Mutual Termination Agreement – A written agreement between you and your landlord to end your tenancy.
  • NCAT – New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • Notice of Intention to Leave – A government form (form 13) that you must supply your landlord with before you can end your tenancy.
  • Notice of Intention to Vacate – A written notice detailing that you want to end your tenancy and leave the property at a set date.
  • NTCAT – Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • Occupation feeif the items you left behind prevents the landlord from renting the place to someone else, they can change you a fee each day equal to what your rent is per day.  They can charge you that fee for 14 days maximum.
  • Periodic Tenancy Agreement – the agreement that occurs when the landlord and tenant don’t specify a set period of time that the lease will last for, or where a Fixed Term Tenancy Agreement expires without the tenancy ending.
  • Personal Documentbirth certificate, passport, bank books, financial statements, photos, personal collectables (e.g. trophies), correspondence (e.g. mail), licenses, records or anything else a person might want to keep
  • QCATQueensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • Residential Tenancy Agreementan agreement under which a person grants to another person for value a right of occupation of residential premises for the purpose of use as a residence.
  • Residential Tenancies Authority – the Residential Tenancies Authority is a Queensland government authority that handles tenancy issues in Queensland.
  • SAT – State Administrative Tribunal.
  • SACAT – South Australia Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • Secretary – the Commissioner or Secretary for NSW Fair Trading.
  • Standard Tenancy Terms – All Tenancy Agreements in the ACT automatically include a set of terms contained in schedule 1 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (ACT).   Conflicting terms can only be added to the agreement if both you and your landlord apply to ACAT.
  • Sub-Tenant- if you have a residential tenancy agreement with a tenant (not the landlord) then that person is the head tenant and you are a sub-tenant
  • Termination Notice – A written letter that says that you want to end your tenancy.  It should detail the reason for why you are ending your tenancy, as well as providing a date that you intend to move out on.
  • Tenancy Databasedatabase containing personal information relating to you living at a rental property under a residential tenancy agreement
  • VCAT – Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal

 

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