We’ve all heard about nightmare tenants; current affairs program’s are full of images of dodgy types tipping garbage on hybrid lawns and filling their rentals with old newspapers, all while flipping the bird to the camera crews and also their landlords.
But it’s not always the tenants who are in the wrong, so what about dodgy landlords? Sometimes when you’re renting a property, you spend a lot of time focusing on getting your bond back or keeping the place in shape.
You are used to being on the back foot, especially if you have been renting for quite a while, so it can be easy to forget that you have your own rights that must be upheld by the owner of the property.
Bad landlords might try to withhold your bond when you move out, without providing an adequate reason, or tell you that you need to vacate early for whatever reason. Maybe they have family moving into the property or they claim to have had some complaints about you from neighbours.
Many people just accept these moves, thinking it’s too much of a hassle to chase up. However, you have the right to your bond unless the landlord can legitimately claim otherwise and there is a due process in place for evicting a tenant. In most states and territories, landlords need to give adequate notice and submit written letters and applications in advance.
Another handy thing to know is that your landlord can’t increase rent during a fixed lease, unless it’s part of the initial contract. In most parts of Australia, rent may be increased no sooner than every six months and not without 60 days notice. Tenancy laws vary in different states, so check government websites for more information.
Remember that having a place tenanted for as long as possible is in the best interests of a landlord, whose viable property investment will often rely on no decent return. They need you just as much as you need them, so if you keep the place in good condition and pay your rent on time, you might just find yourself with some pretty long legs to stand on in the event of a dispute.
Tim McIntyre is the senior real estate reporter for the Daily Telegraph and News.com.au. Over the past decade, he has attained widespread knowledge of Australia’s many unique property markets and is an authority on all things buying, selling and investing. His commentary appears every Saturday in the Daily Telegraph Real Estate lift out, as well as online at news.com.au.