The 8 most common tenant questions answered
Renting comes with its advantages; the opportunity to discover new areas, no rate bills or maintenance costs, and the flexibility to move whenever you please.
There are, however, some obligations and responsibilities to be aware of when renting your new home. “Rent can be one of your biggest expenses and is a cost you can’t reduce once you have signed your lease,” says Andrew Graham, CEO of Rental Management Australia. “Moving day is stressful for anyone, so it's important to have a good Property Management company guiding you through the process.”
A pre-move check list relieves stress, protects the tenant and owner, and sets the tone for how the tenancy will unfold:
- Read the pre-tenancy checklist, ensuring you are aware of any special conditions including what happens if you fall behind in rent and the process for repairs and maintenance.
- Check the property condition report carefully making detailed comments concerning the property's condition. Sign and return to the property manager.
- Read over your bond lodgement and check your lease contracts to clarify what your responsibilities are in maintaining the garden. It often includes watering, mowing, edging lawns, weeding and light pruning.
- Check your local council website for rubbish and watering days.
- Update the electoral roll, your contents insurance, address for utility bills and arrange mail redirection.
- Organise a delivery truck.
- Introduce yourself to your new neighbours.
Pressing questions? We answer your most commonly asked questions to guarantee a smooth move.
Q. As a new tenant, what fees do I need to pay?
A. When taking possession of a rental property, both rent and bond must be paid as stipulated in your lease. Of course, rents vary, and your bond will be equivalent to four weeks rent. This is paid when you sign your tenancy agreement. It is then lodged with the government bonds office, and returned to you once you vacate the property. Should you breach your tenancy agreement and it causes your owner to incur a loss, you may have to pay compensation which is deducted from your bond. “Aim to get your full rental bond back by leaving the home clean and in good condition as per the property condition report,” says Andrew.
Q. Who pays the utility bills?
A. The owner is responsible for the costs of the actual installation of all utility services, the annual supply charge for water and sewerage, and rates and taxes related to the property. When you move in, it is your responsibility to connect gas, electricity, and water in your name, take care of these fees and pay for use of these services.
Q. My roomie has left. Can I sublet?
A. Occasionally, tenants will need to move out and you will need to find someone else to take their room. This is fine if your lease doesn't prohibit subletting or mentions exclusive occupancy. Many owners will require the subletter to meet the standard screening criteria and may deny unsuitable applications. If you plan on having long-term guests staying, discuss this with your Property Manager also who will speak with the owner. Ask for specifics on how they determine a long-term guest and be open to documenting them in the lease.
Q. Where should I park?
A. Many high-density suburbs require permits, so ensure you and your roommate's cars fit and meet the governmental requirements. Be wary of using visitor parking if you live in a complex. Other residents won't be happy if their guests have nowhere to park.
Q. Can I use any internet service provider?
A. Yes, but do enquire with your preferred provider to make sure they service your new address. If you are setting up Netflix, Stan, or another streaming service, check if they look after your area. Should you require a satellite dish, ask your Property Manager first as the owner and body corporate will need to approve if you are part of a strata complex.
Q. Can my cat move in with me?
A. Some owners don't permit pets, but others may consider them. Always ask permission before buying a new pet or signing a lease if you already own one. If you rent an apartment, ask permission from the body corporate, too. Some states have a pet bond that is required prior to approval.
Q. Oh no, I need to leave the property before my lease expires!
A. If you need to break your lease early, you will be responsible for all expenses incurred by the property owner when finding a new tenant, and you will likely have to keep paying rent until your replacement is approved and signs their lease. Do not leave the property without notifying your Property Manager first, or you may lose your bond. This will also affect your rental history, making it difficult to look for new rentals in the future.