Your Residential Tenancy Agreement (RTA) is a legal document, so it’s important to read and understand what you’re signing.

What is a Residential Tenancy Agreement?

A Residential Tenancy Agreement (commonly referred to as a lease agreement or lease document) is a written agreement between you and the property owner.

Do not sign the lease until you have read and understood the terms of your lease and what is expected of you as a tenant.

A lease agreement will be provided to you by your landlord or property manager during the lease sign-up process.

This agreement is normally a document has been endorsed by the relevant real estate institute in your state or territory.

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What should a Residential Tenancy Agreement include?

  • The name and address of the tenant.
  • The name of the property manager/owner.
  • The start and end date for the lease (if it’s a fixed agreement of 6 or 12 months, for example) or a statement that the lease will be periodic (where the tenant lives in the property for an indefinite period).
  • Information about how the tenant should pay the rent.
  • Standard terms – this is information about what the tenant and property manager/owner can and cannot do.
  • Special terms – these must be agreed to in advance. Special terms can include things such as ‘No smoking,’ or ‘Dogs must be kept outside of the property.’

Clauses and terms in your lease agreement

A standard lease document contains clauses and terms which cannot be changed.

The reason for this is to protect you and the property owner. In some instances, additional clauses can be added to standard documents and will be subject to your agreement.

Remember, it’s important to ask questions and seek advice from your property manager/landlord to make sure you understand the lease terms. This is especially important if you notice that the clauses have been struck out.

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Signing the tenancy agreement

The lease you will be asked to sign is a contractual document. It has been drawn up in a certain way to protect you as a tenant, as well as the owner of the property.

It will act as a reference in the event of a dispute during your tenancy. Make sure you keep your own copy of the signed lease document and a copy of any relevant attachments in a safe place.

In addition to this lease document and any further documentation you are required by your state law to receive from the landlord or property manager, you will normally be given a Property Condition Report (PCR) to review and sign.

Your landlord / agent’s responsibilities

When signing your tenancy agreement, it’s worth noting that your landlord / agent is responsible for:

  • Ensuring the correct form is used and completed.
  • Meeting all the costs of preparing your tenancy agreement. It is normal for a landlord to pay for costs associated with the preparation of your lease document. All costs you will be expected to incur will be detailed in the document.
  • Ensuring that the premises are in a good state of repair and ready for the tenant to move into on the agreed date.

Keep good records

You’ll be surprised just how quickly 6 or 12 months can pass. In that time, it’s easy to lose documents if you don’t carefully file them away. Whatever you do, don’t let this happen to your tenancy agreement. You will need this document when your lease comes to an end.

Where possible, keep your tenancy agreement, your bond lodgement forms, your property condition report and copies of emails in a specific folder somewhere safe.

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