Buying a house has, and always will be, a huge financial investment; for a lot of people it takes years of saving to get to a point where they are in a position to afford it. This leaves many with little choice but to rent. It’s important to know your rights as a tenant, but unless you have really done your research, it can be a bit of a legal minefield. So to help out both new and veteran renters, here are some rental rights you may not have been aware of.
At the beginning of a lease the landlord is obligated to give each tenant named on the tenancy agreement a free copy of the key or other opening device information to open any lock for the premises and any common property that the tenant is entitled to access. This means that if there are three people on the lease, each person should be given a full set of keys from the landlord- renters should not have to get their own set of keys cut.
- Tenant Listing
A landlord is able to list a tenant on a tenancy database if they believe you are a ‘bad tenant’. However, before making a listing the landlord must inform the tenant and give them a copy of the information they want on the database. Any response by the tenant must also be considered. If the landlord fails to do this, they can be fined up to $2,200.
The landlord or agent is legally allowed to take photos of the outside of the property. But, photographing inside, including your belongings, is a breach of your right to reasonable privacy. If you find out photos were taken inside, you are within your rights to apply to have the photos destroyed or given to you.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to pay for and organise repairs. Tenants can apply for an order that the landlord compensate you for economic loss if it was caused by the landlord’s failure to do the necessary repairs. For example, if the oven is not repaired, you are entitled to compensation for spending excess money on take- away. The tribunal can order up to $15,000 in compensation.
- Selling the Property
If the landlord wants to sell the property they can, however, as a renter you still have rights. If the property is sold and the current lease is not finished, the buyer of the property becomes the new landlord. The tenancy agreement continues as before, on the same terms and you are not obligated to sign a new lease.
Although it may feel as though tenants have no rights and no power compared to the landlord or the estate agents, this really isn’t the case. If a landlord or agent is breaking tenancy law, or your signed tenancy agreement, you are within your rights to seek advice and compensation from a Tribunal.