Photo: iStock/CatLane

As a tenant or landlord (property owner), you have a number of rights and obligations, as well as shared responsibilities. 

Your rights and obligations as a tenant

In Australia, tenants have a number of rights once they sign a lease agreement. This includes things like the right to quiet enjoyment of the premises. As a tenant, you’re also obliged to keep the property clean and notify your landlord of any damage.

Your entry rights as a landlord

As a landlord, you can only enter the premises under certain circumstances. This could be an emergency, or with the consent of your tenant. Of course, you can also enter for other purposes like conducting a routine inspection, providing you have notified the tenant in advance the correct way.

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Repairs and maintenance

As a landlord, you’re generally responsible for organising and/or paying for repairs and maintenance. It is your obligation to provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair during the tenancy. If, however, your tenant has caused damage at the premises, they’re likely to be liable for those repairs. Keep in mind there are special provisions that apply for urgent or emergency repairs.

Utilities and other bills

This is an interesting one – when is the landlord or tenant responsible for paying bills like water, electricity and gas? Generally speaking, tenants are only liable for services that are separately metered for their use, like water. The landlord will pay for most other charges like land taxes and council rates.

What alterations or additions can be made? 

If you’re renting a property, you must get the landlord’s consent before you install fixtures or make alterations to the premises. Unless you and the landlord agree otherwise, any installations or alterations you make will be at your expense. A fixture is an item that becomes attached to, or part of the premises – things like a window, door or a toilet, for example.

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Security and locks on the rental property

Generally speaking, landlords are responsible for providing the rental property in a secure condition with locks on all windows and doors. The tenant should be given a copy of the keys at the beginning of the tenancy. In most cases, the locks can only be changed by the tenant or landlord if the other party consents to this taking place.

Tip: Depending on which state or territory you live in, the law may require that once the locks are changed that a copy of the new key is given to the other party.

This guide provides a very brief summary of the laws and regulations that affect rental accommodation. The summary does not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and may not apply to your specific situation. Make sure you use this information as a guide only and seek independent advice from the tenancy body in your state or territory.

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  1. Can a Landlord change their mind on a rental agreement once a bond and rent have been paid? Is their ‘approval’ email classed as the Landlord’s signed consent? (Melbourne, Vic).