More Australians are renting than ever before – in many areas of Sydney and Melbourne, more than half of households are tenants. As this number has increased, so too have calls for increased rental protections and tenancy rights. Here’s what you need to know if you’re renting in Australia.
In the case of urgent repairs – that is, ones that pose a danger or significant inconvenience – a landlord must respond immediately once you raise a concern. These include things like blocked or broken toilet, gas leak, dangerous electrical fault, flooding and burst water service.
Non-urgent repairs are required to be carried out by your landlord as necessary to maintain the property to a reasonable standard. If damage is not your fault, you are not required to pay for the repairs.
The reality is of course that many tenants experience issues with repairs after raising concerns. And while you’re unable to stop paying rent if a landlord refuses to carry out repairs, you may be entitled to apply to your tenancy tribunal to have you rent paid in a separate account until they are complete. More information on reasonable wear and tear or a property here.
Watch a video about rental repairs in Victoria
On a rolling lease (that is, not a fixed term) your rent can be increased once every six to twelve months depending on which state or territory you’re in… except for New South Wales, where there is no limit. Outside of the NT, you’re required to receive a notice period of 60 days for any increase. This increase is not allowed to be “excessive”.
While there’s no hard and fast rules about what that really means in most states, if you feel like an increase is unfair you can apply for its prevention through your state’s appropriate service.
Getting your bond back
According to Choice, the idea that getting your bond back is entirely at the whim of your landlord is somewhat misleading. In most states or territories, you’re required to lodge your bond with the relevant bond authority once tenancy is over.
In the case of disputes, the bond is held with a third party. What this means is that you’re able to apply to receive your bond independently should there be a dispute. In New South Wales you are able to independently apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get your bond back, and in Victoria you can apply directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if there is a dispute between you and your landlord.
While on a fixed term agreement, a landlord cannot evict you without having good cause. However, outside of ACT and Tasmania, once you’re month to month, you can be kicked out with basically zero grounds.
In some states, though, if you feel like an eviction is a direct retaliation to you asserting your rights as a tenant, you can apply for orders challenging the eviction, and eventually take it to the tribunal if not resolved.