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Leases and Paperwork

By George Hadgelias

Whenever you rent a house, you will sign a lease agreement which is a legally binding contract setting out the terms of your stay within the dwelling.

What is a lease agreement?

Officially it’s known as a residential tenancy agreement, but most people call it a lease.

At its most basic, the agreement will list the rent amount, how regularly you are required to make payments and how long your lease will last.

It will also set out any special rules and requirements, like whether you can have a pet and if you will be required to pay additional amenity charges such as water.

Any special cleaning requirements that are the tenant’s responsibility when the lease ends, such as getting carpets cleaned professionally if you have animals or children, should also be documented.

Finally, it will also contain details about what happens if you need to break the agreement early and what costs you will incur as a result.

It’s important to read the contract carefully before signing, seek legal advice if necessary and keep a copy in case a dispute or issue arises.

  • What to note on a condition report

    When you move into your new rental, it should be clean and all appliances in working order. This will be recorded in a condition report provided by the property manager or landlord at the time you take on the lease.

    The document should clearly outline the state of the property at handover and acts as a reference guide to determine if there has been any damage caused by the tenant during the rental agreement.

    After moving in, you should inspect the house thoroughly and make sure the report matches the condition of the house, before you sign and return it to the agent. Remember to keep a copy for yourself.

    Take note of any damage including marks or chips on walls, stains on carpet, doors and windows that are jammed and broken locks. Also check the appliances and note the condition of any gardens.

    Be sure to write anything down that is not already noted in the report.

    Generally, you will have three days to fill out the condition report and raise any major concerns before you are required to submit a copy to the property manager.

    Often landlords and tenants also like to submit photos as proof of the condition.

    Once submitted and signed by the landlord, this condition report becomes an official record and can be used to determine whether a tenant is liable for any damage to the premise during their stay beyond general wear and tear.

    What documents do you need to get a lease?

    Once you find the ideal property you will want to act fast, so it’s a great idea to have your documents sorted before you officially start hunting for a home.

    Documents you will need to apply for a rental property include:

    • Identification – usually 100 points of ID are required including at least one photo document. This can include a driver’s licence or passport, birth certificate, Medicare card, health care card, car registration or a bill addressed to you.
    • Bank statements or payslips – proof of ability to pay is key and most agents will require a record of a bank account that shows regular income payments for at least two months prior. If you receive Centrelink payments, then you should also have copies of your statements. However, in Victoria under new rental laws, agents cannot ask for bank statements that show daily transactions.
    • References – these are testimonies of your character but also your rental history. Make sure you check that your referees are happy to be contacted before supplying their name and contact details to the property manager.

    As part of the lease signing process the agent will also provide several documents.

    These include:

    • A lease agreement.
    • A condition report.
    • A bond lodgement form.
    • A copy of the owners’ corporation rules (if applicable).
    • Details on what to do when urgent repairs are necessary.

    Rental inspections

    Property owners will likely want to check in from time-to-time to make sure their rental home is being treated well by tenants and assess any maintenance needs.

    As a tenant, when you sign a lease, you are also accepting that occasionally these inspections will occur.

    But property managers and landlords do not have free reign to come stomping into your home whenever they want, so to protect your privacy there are strict rules they must obey.

    After a written notice is provided, a property manager will come in to check the rental is in a reasonably clean state and undamaged.

    These visits should only be semi-regular and are not designed for property managers or landlords to impede on your privacy or make demands about how you live.

    In fact, they usually only last around 10 minutes and can be conducted while you are not home if that’s what you’d prefer.

    How often rental inspections can be conducted

    • QLD – once every three months

    You should do a little preparation in anticipation of the visit. This includes doing a good clean and making sure you put in place the appropriate arrangements if you have an animal on-site.

    It can also be a good opportunity to discuss any matters with the property manager or landlord. For example a faulty appliance or extending the current lease.

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