The Ultimate Guide to Paying Your Rent & Winning at Life.
More than 30% of Australian residents are renters, so whether it’s your first foray into property hunting (or your 10th), you’re not alone. To celebrate the launch of RentPay, we’re doing the math on renting so you don’t have to. Our guide to renting in Australia shares everything should know about the ins and outs of renting and how to manage your money and come out on top. See the full series.
As more Australians choose to rent each year, a growing number of people have questions about what’s involved in the renting process. Here are nine myths we regularly hear from renters and the truths behind them.
If you’ve ever rented a property (or even if you’re new to the scene), you’ll have some idea of how confusing the process can be. The growing pressure for people to step onto the property ladder creates easy confusion – especially as house prices rise each year!
Before you dismiss renting as an option, sit tight. In this article, we break down some of the common myths around renting so you can learn a few facts and work out what’s best for you.
MYTH #1: The landlord gets to hold onto my rental bond during my tenancy.
Nope. In pretty much all states and territories (NT aside), your landlord isn’t allowed to hold your bond during your tenancy. By law, they have to deposit the bond with a special authority administered by your state or territory’s government. There’s a good reason for this! These systems are there to make sure your money is held safely and securely. You should generally receive all of your bond back when you end your tenancy unless the landlord claims for expenses you caused, such as damage to the property or overdue rent.
MYTH #2: Renting? You’re just throwing money away.
Sure, buying a house can be a decent investment. But there are also a lot of reasons why renting isn’t a bad investment. Buying a home is a HUGE time and financial commitment, whereas renting can be a lot more flexible. Renting can be a better move financially. It’s pretty great having someone you can call for any maintenance or repairs, plus you might want the flexibility of up and moving whenever you’re ready. Plus, the time you spend renting is an excellent opportunity to build a little nest egg for the future if you do feel like settling down.
MYTH #3: My rental bond protects me from getting evicted.
Bonds are there to cover your landlord, not you. A bond won’t stop a landlord from evicting you; it’s there as security if you don’t follow the tenancy agreement. Unfortunately, the bond doesn’t guarantee or enforce your lease terms in any way.
MYTH #4: My tenancy agreement doesn’t apply after the end of the fixed term.
There’s a common misconception that if your agreement is for a fixed term of, let’s say, 12 months, then the terms of that agreement no longer apply once the 12 months is up. Not quite. If you keep paying the rent, and neither you nor your landlord terminates, then you continue under the same conditions as before. Legally speaking, you’re now on a periodic tenancy, and so even if your fixed term has ended, your agreement applies in the same way.
MYTH #5: The landlord is responsible for all repairs and maintenance.
In most cases, maintenance and physical repairs on your rental are your landlord’s physical and financial responsibility. Things like battery and light bulb replacement, however, are something tenants cover. If you lean on your shower door and shatter the glass, you’d be responsible for the financial cost. But that said, your landlord would have to be notified and would then handle the repair. If something like that happened, they’d work with you to find a way to cover the funds, or they’d deduct it from your rental bond. If an included appliance breaks down during your tenancy, this is generally due to years of normal wear-and-tear, and so the landlord will be responsible for its repair or replacement.
MYTH #6: You can stop paying rent if repairs aren’t done.
As we noted above, repairs are your landlord’s responsibility, but some procedures must be followed when dealing with urgent (and even non-urgent repairs). Your landlord has an obligation to respond to your repair requests promptly, but you must continue to pay your rent, even while you’re waiting on repairs to be done. Depending on where you are in Australia, you may be able to apply to your tenancy tribunal to have your rent paid into a special account until the repairs are done. Contact your tenancy support service for more information.
MYTH #7: The landlord can increase the rent at any time.
Contrary to what you might think, there are several restrictions on when and how a landlord can increase the rent. If you’re on a fixed-term agreement, the landlord can only increase your rent if the agreement mentions this. There are also other things at play here – you have to be given written notice of the increase, there’s a minimum notice period, and there are often limits on how often a landlord can do it.
MYTH #8: A landlord can blacklist you for standing up for yourself.
Many tenants are fearful of being ‘blacklisted’ on Australian tenancy databases like NTD and TICA – and there’s a good reason. Appearing on these databases can make it harder for you to find a place to rent in the future. But there’s a LOT of regulation around how these databases can be used (even if the Northern Territory is a bit of an outlier). There are only two scenarios in which your name can be added to a tenancy database, and more importantly, you can only be listed once your tenancy has ended. These are:
1) Your rent is in arrears by an amount in excess of the rental bond; or
2) You’ve breached your tenancy agreement.
So relax. You cannot be listed just because you’ve exercised your rights during your tenancy. Even better, your property manager is required to tell you if they intend to list you, so you’ll have ample time to consider this and dispute the case if necessary. Listings over three years old are also removed from the database.
MYTH # 9: You have to steam clean the carpet when you move out.
Whether you have to steam clean your carpets when you vacate a rental or not is, well, a little hazy. In NSW, it’s prohibited to include a term in your lease that requires you to have the carpets professional cleaned unless you’ve agreed to it as a condition for keeping pets at the property. But elsewhere, the legislation says you need to ensure your place is “reasonably clean”. No tenancy laws specifically require you to have your carpets professionally cleaned, but your landlord/agent may include it as a special term on your lease. If you do decide to clean your carpets, make sure you keep the receipt.
What other myths would you like busted? Send us an email, and we’ll add it to our list!
Lauren Vardy was the Content Marketing Manager at Rent.com.au between 2015 and 2023. Formerly a journalist at Fairfax Media and Rural Press, Lauren's expertise extends to various media groups in Australia and internationally, including the Esperance Express, Southeast Asia Globe, Colosoul Magazine, The Sunday Times, and more.