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Renting out a property is a big commitment. After all, renting isn’t taken lightly and once you sign the lease agreement, you’ll be legally bound by terms and conditions outlined in a lengthy renter’s document.
The last thing you’ll want to do is rush into any uncertain rental agreements. And while double or even triple-checking your rental agreement may seem time-consuming it will ultimately help you in the long run.
To help you with your checklist before the next rental inspection; we’ve listed five things you should know before you sign a rental agreement.
Inspecting the property
While this may seem like an obvious first step, it’s important that as a first-time renter you inspect the potential property at least once in person.
When inspecting the property you should aim to check:
- If the property is damaged
- If the garden is maintained
- If all current appliances are working
- If there is the correct number of bedrooms
What you’ll need to apply for your first rental property will vary based on your individual rental history and previous living situation. If you are a first-time renter, there is no need to worry, there are always ways to strengthen your first application.
The documentation you can provide:
- Verification of employment
- Verification of income
- Reference from employee or colleague
- Reference from a teacher or mentor
- Reference from an agent who previously sold your home
- Photo identification of driver’s licence, passport or student ID
- Gas, electricity or phone bill (proof of payment).
It’s important that you provide at least three references that aren’t relatives.
You’ll also want to talk to the property manager in advance to find out what is required to apply for the lease.
Residential tenancy agreement
If you are successful a landlord will want you to sign a contract known as a tenancy agreement or a lease.
In Australia, there are established tenancy authorities to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants. Your rights are determined by your state or territory and you must remain up to date on either side.
Once the contract is signed, the renter is legally obligated to adhere to the agreement. Failure to do so could result in fines or even eviction.
A residential tenancy agreement should include:
- The amount of rent due/when it is due
- How the rent is paid
- The length and type of tenancy
- The cost of the bond
- Conditions around a broken lease or leaving before the lease expires
- Any specific building requirements, regulations or conditions
You should always ask to review a copy of the residential tenancy agreement for up to 24 hours before making any final decisions.
A bond is a deposit that provides financial security to the landlord or owner if the terms of the lease are broken. Bond is a separate payment to the rent and will have to be paid up-front on top of several weeks rent.
Your landlord can also claim all or a portion of your bond to clean or repair items in your property that were damaged during your stay.
When you pay the bond your landlord must prepare a condition report. A condition report is a document that notes the state of the property when you first move in. This report aims to keep track of all existing damage or issues within the property.
What to look for in a condition report:
- It must be prepared before or within days of you moving into your new home
- It includes detailed information on the property’s walls, doors, floor and any existing or ongoing damage with furniture and appliances.
- If you disagree with any of the documented damage from the agent/owner
You must complete the inspection report and return it to the agent/owner in the specified number of days.
Make sure that you and your landlord agree on the contents of the condition report before signing. This means that the report can be used as evidence (if needed) in disputes about cleaning, damage or replacing items before the end of your lease.
If you are a tenant you may need a different insurance policy from the property owner. Even though you don’t own the property itself you’ll still want to ensure that your personal possessions are covered if they were ever damaged or stolen.
Renter’s insurance is an optimal choice for people living in rental properties. It protects against financial loss as well as the cost of replacing or repairing your belongings (furniture, white goods, electrical appliances, clothing and personal effects).
Before signing a rental agreement make sure to consider what type of insurance coverage you may need while renting.
- Buying, selling or renting property — find information on tips for homebuyers, grants available and information for tenants.
- Expert tips for first time renters — find out what advice Australia’s leading rental experts have to offer.