Renting Real Estate in the Northern Territory
For those of us that aren't quite ready to move into our first house, or invested in a property on the outskirts of the city but still fancy living in the CBD, renting in the Northern Territory should be your go-to option.
Renting a place represents far less paperwork than going the whole hog and buying a home, but there are still a fair few things that you need to know before signing the tenancy agreement. With this in mind, let's take a look at how you can become a bona-fide tenant in the Northern Territory.
Where should you look for a rental property in the Northern Territory?
If you want a rough idea as to how much you'll pay in rent in the various towns of the Northern Territory, point your browser in the direction of websites such as domain.com.au, realestate.com.au and our very own ljhoooker.com.au. Additionally, CoreLogic RP Data, Australian Property Monitors and SQM Research are a good source of information with regards to vacancy rates and rental costs across the entirety of the Northern Territory.
You should decide what you need out of the rental property. Will it be just for you, or do you want to live with other people? What amenities do you need nearby? Will you pick an area close to the city, or a particular school / university? How much can you afford to spend on rent every week?
Here are some criteria to consider:
- How much rent can you afford?
- What type of property do you prefer - a house, town house etc?
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- Do you want to share with someone else?
- Do you want a garden
- Do you need a space for pets?
- How close do you need to be to public transport and other amenities
Even so, enlisting the help of a property management service can take a great deal of hassle out of the entire process. Indeed, the LJ Hooker Property Management team has a host of rental properties the length and breadth of the Northern Territory, and we'll help you find the perfect place to make your new home.
Are inspections important?
Yes, yes they are! You need to spend a good few hours inspecting any potential rental property in the Northern Territory. Be sure to take a look at each of the furnishings and fittings, checking that everything is as it should be. It's highly likely that your tenancy agreement will state that you need to leave the property in good condition once your lease is over, so that the next tenant can move in quickly.
Going by this rationale, the condition should be acceptable when you move in, but you must check regardless, so as not to be blamed for something that wasn't you. Mould levels, the plumbing, heating and cooling, water pressure, whiteware and outdoor areas should all be examined carefully, as well as noted down officially.
Applying for rental property in the Northern Territory
How to become a tenant in the Northern Territory
Before you're handed the keys to a rental property, you're required to go through an application process. This typically involves providing proof of income and references from previous landlords, amongst other things.
Additionally, you'll need to find out who takes care of any issues that may arise. You'll find the majority of the rules for renting in the Northern Territory in the Residential Tenancies Act, and Northern Territory Fair Trading will act as a mediator should a dispute, issue or complaint arise. This site has pages dedicated to starting and ending a tenancy, making it a useful resource throughout your time as a tenant.
The new tenant checklist
Before you sign a new tenancy agreement, you must be provided with a tenancy checklist from either the landlord or the agent involved in the lease. It's also important that you have the following information at hand:
- A bond lodgment form,
- The checklist itself,
- The tenancy agreement,
- Two copies of the report concerning the condition of the rental property,
- Any repairs that will be made by the landlord, in writing, and
- A certificate of compliance for any spa or pool on the property.
If you don't have this, don't sign the tenancy agreement. That's because a Northern Territory tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract, and can last for more than year. Therefore, it's important not to get locked down by something that you don't fully understand.
The costs of Northern Territory rental property
When you become a tenant in the Northern Territory, you'll need to evaluate just how much it's going to cost you. The bond, or security deposit, cannot be more than four weeks' rent, and it's rare to have to pay more than one week's rent in advance before moving in.
Additionally, there are a fair few other costs which you are not held responsible for. You cannot be charged for keys or swipe card to enter your house, or any costs that come with setting up bonds or other paperwork. Should you come across any issues, Northern Territory Consumer Affairs explains how you can broach the subject with your landlord or property manager. The Department of Housing is also an excellent point of reference.
Should your rent be increased, the landlord or property manager is obliged to give no less than 30 days notice in the NT, which must be given in writing. It's also important that the notice says how much the rent is going to increase by, as well as when it's happening. Additionally, it should be addressed directly to the leaseholder and dated, as well as signed.
It's also important to remember that, in the NT, a rent increase cannot occur any earlier than six months from the day that the tenancy agreement was signed, or since the last increase.
There are a few other fees that you'll have to take into account when renting:
- A refundable fee to secure keys for a viewing prior to signing the tenancy agreement,
- Personal costs for duplication of extra keys,
- Set-up fees for electricity, water and power, and
- Insurance or legal requirements stipulated in the tenancy agreement.
Once you've signed the tenancy agreement, take a look at the condition report which will detail precisely what state the property is in. This is so that you have proof as to how it was when you moved in when claiming your bond back, which is why close inspection of the property is vital before you move in - and the condition report is filled out correctly.
Two copies of the condition report must be provided, one for you and one for the landlord. Look over it, fill it out and return it within the seven days of issue outlined by the NT government. The report should also outline any repairs that need to be carried out by the landlord. Once signed, it becomes a binding contract. Take a look at the Consumer Affairs website for more details on filling out a condition report.
Signing the tenancy agreement
There are a couple of kinds of tenancy agreements to choose from in the Northern Territory - fixed-term and periodic.
This is a contract that allows you to stay in a Northern Territory rental property for a fixed period of time. Typically, this is six to 12 months, but can sometimes be longer. This kind of contract can be renewed, with agreement, between the tenant and landlord.
A periodic agreement begins as soon as you move into a Northern Territory property, and it follows on from a fixed-term agreement. This kind of agreement has no fixed end date, but it retains the same rules and regulations as a fixed contract.
Reading the fine print
The tenancy agreement outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in the Northern Territory. This includes your obligation to keep the carpets clean, and external insurance requirements. Are you allowed pets on the property? The tenancy agreement will tell you, as well as what will happen if you slip into arrears with your rent.
If there is no signed tenancy agreement, your landlord can legally evict you or increase rent without notice. Having this essential paperwork establishes the limits of your tenancy in black and white, so you have a clear idea of what your rights and responsibilities are. You are legally obliged to be given copy of the tenancy agreement once it is signed.
When you begin your tenancy, you are obliged to keep up the condition of your Northern Territory rental property and continue paying rent as as instructed. If you have any questions about the renting process, don't hesitate to contact our expert team today.