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Renter rights and responsibilities | Your guide | UniLodge

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Renter rights and responsibilities

When you rent a property in Australia you have the right to live in a residence that is safe, secure and liveable.

There are laws that set down the rules you have to follow as the renter, and the rules that the owner of the property has to follow, as the rental provider.

Generally, this works pretty well to protect both renters and owners.   During the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, many owners reduced their renters weekly rents.

But sometimes there are disagreements. These can often be solved easily and quickly by communicating the problem to the owner. If this doesn’t work, here are a range of options you can take.

Here is your guide to renter rights and responsibilities.

Your rights as a renter

Your rights as a renter were boosted under new laws introduced in Victoria in March 2021. These laws set out exactly how rental agreements have to be structured, and what renters and owners are each responsible for.

Before you sign a lease

Even before you sign a lease, rental providers can only offer their rental properties at a set price. No “auction” for the property is allowed. The advertising for the property must be fair.

When you apply to rent the property, the owner or agent is not allowed to ask any inappropriate questions. This means they are not allowed to ask about your bank records or rental history, including if you have had legal action in the past. In Australia, you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of your race, gender or disability, and this includes in all rental agreements.

When you pay your rent, you have the right to use a payment option that does not charge extra fees on top of the rental amount. This fee-free option has to be offered by the rental provider.

When you move in to your rental

You’ve got the keys and you’re moving in! Congratulations. During your stay in the property, you have to pay your rent on time. If you are more than 14 days late and are issued a notice to vacate the property, your renter rights include that you can pay the rent back and remain in the property.

If you have a fixed-term rental agreement – say, for six months or 12 months – the rental provider has to keep the rent at the same amount. At the end of that time, however, they may change the rent.

You have the right to live in a quiet environment, and there are steps renters can take if this does not occur.

Maintaining the property

Another of your renter rights is to have the property fit to live in. There are minimum standards for the property that include locks and windows, lighting and airflow, structure, mould and damp, and functional toilet and kitchen facilities.

You should contact your owner or agent immediately if urgent repairs are needed. These include a blocked or broken toilet, dangerous electrical faults, gas leaks, flooding or a serious water leak, or an essential service such as a hot water system has broken down. It is their responsibility to pay for these repairs as quickly as possible.

For non-urgent repairs, you should request they be fixed. This has to be done in writing as soon as you become aware of the problem.

Moving out of your rental

If you have a fixed-term rental agreement, rental providers can only issue you with a notice to vacate at the end of the term unless there has been a breach of your rental agreement, such as you not paying your rent on time.

Before the term is up, they have to have a valid reason to ask you to leave the property, such as that it is being sold, demolished, or the owner is moving back in.

These rights apply to you as a renter, but there are also responsibilities you must uphold.

Your responsibilities as a renter

As a renter, you are responsible for paying your rent on time, taking good care of your property and being a good neighbour. Simply speaking with your rental provider about any potential issues or changes is always a good option.

Before you move in

Before you sign a rental agreement, you should be sure you will be able to pay for the property’s rent each week, and have checked the property.

If the rent is less than $900 a week, then you may be asked to pay a bond that is up to four weeks’ rent. This is held by an independent body – in Victoria this is the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority - and returned to you when you move out if the residence is in good condition. 

Renting the property

It is your responsibility to pay your rent on time, and if not, you have to pay it as quickly as possible. It has to be paid in the way that was decided in the original rental agreement.

In Victoria, if you are late paying your rent by 14 days more than four times in a year, your rental provider can issue you a notice to vacate. This is a legal notice for you to leave the property. The rental provider has to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to confirm the notice to vacate.

Your owner or agent may request to inspect your property throughout your agreement. They are also allowed to enter the residence to take photos or videos if the property is going to be sold. They have to tell you at least a week before they enter the property to take pictures, or two weeks before they do any sales inspections.

As a renter, it is your obligation to keep the property clean and tidy, and to be fair and a good neighbour in your community. This means abiding by the rules of your building, not being too noisy, especially at night, and not causing a nuisance. If you disrupt the peace, you may be asked to leave, and issued a notice to vacate. Likewise, damaging property on purpose is not allowed.

When you are renting and something breaks, you have to let the rental provider know as soon as you can. You have to do this in writing, for example, in an email. As above, if it is an urgent repair, then the rental provider has to fix it as quickly as possible.

If you or one of your visitors endangers the safety or threatens neighbours, the rental provider or their agent, or a contractor working for them, then you can be issued with a notice to vacate.

Leaving your rental

When you move out, you have to leave the property clean and in good condition. It has to be in the same condition as when you started renting the property, taking into account reasonable wear and tear during the time you rented.

This also means to have to take all your possessions with you. If your rental agreement says the property has to be cleaned professionally, then you will have to do that as well.

Who to go to for help as a renter

UniLodge is here to help

When you rent with UniLodge, we are here to help. If you want to discuss something, in the first instance, speak with your building manager or UniLodge representative.

We understand that things can break or stop working, or that you might wish to complain about something happening around the building. We can help to organise repairs or maintenance, or talk with you to solve the problem.

It is common in Australia for renters and rental providers to have conversations about property maintenance and other issues, so please feel free to speak with us.

Independent organisations that can help, too

There are a range of organisations in Victoria that can help you if you have questions or concerns about your rental property or agreement.

Consumer Affairs Victoria can assist you to understand your lease or find out more about the laws.

Victoria Legal Aid is there to provide legal advice. If you are eligible, Legal Aid lawyers can represent you in court.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is the legal authority that resolves disputes between renters and rental providers.

If you need some support for family issues that might be affecting the way you live, Family Relationships Online has lots of information. Family violence is against the law and there are many services that can assist in Australia.

 

UniLodge is Australia’s leading provider of student accommodation. We work with our renters to provide safe, secure and friendly surroundings that you can call home.