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What are your renter’s rights? Part 1

By Rikki Cook

For many Australians, renting a house or apartment is a first step toward home ownership. For others, continuing to rent is a way to avoid long-term commitments and maintain a flexible lifestyle. Regardless of your reasons, it’s essential to know your rights and what is expected of you as a renter, as well as what you can legally expect from your landlord.

Rent

The amount you owe monthly for rent and other financial obligations should be outlined in your tenancy agreement. There, you can also find the number of days you can fall into arrears. For example, if your rent is due by the fifth of each month, on the sixth you’ll fall one day into arrears.

If you fall into seven days of arrears, your landlord can issue a notice which gives you another seven days to pay your rent in order to continue your rental agreement. Should that time pass, your landlord can give you a Notice to Leave, providing you at least seven days to vacate the property. At this point, you must either move out or dispute the notice. Should you repay all owed money, you can request to remain in your rental property in writing.

Utilities

As a renter, you are generally responsible for paying the bulk of your utilities, like electricity and gas, and any insurance of the contents of your unit. However, the property owner pays property insurance and land tax.

Repairs

The cost of most repairs usually falls to the landlord, who is responsible for keeping the property in a good state of repair and fit for occupation. If routine maintenance is required, like fixing a leaky faucet or a broken appliance, the landlord should cover this. However, the tenant is responsible for any damage they have caused.

Keep in mind that you are required to notify the landlord of any routine repairs that are needed, and they must resolve the issue in a reasonable amount of time. If there is an emergency repair required and you can’t get in touch with your landlord, you may arrange for a qualified person to fix the problem, and your landlord must repay you the cost within a week.

Look out for next weeks post for Part 2 of What are your renter’s rights?

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