Renting Basics: Tenants Rights
Rental properties are a good place for first time buyers to save their funds before climbing onto the property ladder. Thus far in our renting basics series, we have looked into finding the right property and understanding tenancy agreements upon moving in, among others.
Provided you've been through the paperwork with a fine-toothed comb, most rental periods go swimmingly - but there is the odd occasion when unforeseen difficulties between tenants and landlords/property managers may arise. In light of this, what are your rights as a tenant? Here are just a few.
According to NSW Tenants, it is your right to have "reasonable peace, comfort and privacy" while you reside at your rental property. If the landlord or anyone associated wants to visit, appropriate notice has to be given, as well as your consent.
You have further rights. Consumer Affairs Victoria asserts that a rental property owner is not allowed to undertake an inspection until three months of continuous tenancy, and after that no more than four times in total over each year - it does differ slightly state by state, so make sure you check with your relevant authority.
Repairs and Maintenance
Provided it isn't your fault, the landlord is obliged to fix any damages or things that aren't working. Necessary repairs can include failures to the power or gas supply and any breakdown of essential services like hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering.
If you are unable to contact your landlord, they are taking too long to do urgent repairs or are unwilling to do them, you can arrange for the fix ups to be done. There are a number of things to remember before you do anything though:
- Contact your landlord in writing if possible, and hold on to all documents to show you made a reasonable attempt to negotiate
- Only use accredited tradesmen
- Landlords are only obliged to pay for any reasonable costs you accumulate over $1000 - so don't spend any more than that!
Health & Safety
They might have been great materials to use in the 1940s, but asbestos and lead are both now largely banned for most uses across Australia, because of the health and safety risks.
If your rental property has these materials included and provided they pose a risk to your health, you can request them to be removed as part of your landlord's obligations. This is the same for any potential safety hazard your rental property may have.
Just like any repairs or maintenance, ensure you record all conversations in writing and keep them on hand - you never know when they might come in handy!