9 things you must do to protect your rights as a tenant
Moving into a rental property can come with challenges, especially when something goes wrong. Suffice to say, things break – shower heads stop working correctly, hot water pipes leak, drains get clogged, and tiles can start to peal off the wall. And although strata cover these issues, some problems are murkier than others, such as scuff marks on the floor, faulty door handles, and stains on the walls. Did they appear before or after your tenancy? Who is at fault? Does it come out of your bond?
If these issues are not documented properly, they can accrue and become difficult to monitor, especially over the course of a lease, which could be anywhere from 6 months to tens of years. As a tenant, you need to protect your rights and make sure when long-term problems arise, you are in the best position to battle your case.
We’ve listed 9 must dos when moving into a rental property:
- Take Photos
Photos are a great way to record the condition of the property when you first move in. Take pictures (that are date stamped) of the property, especially areas that are damaged or unclean. Keep these in case the landlord objects to returning your bond at the end of your tenancy.
- Keep the Documents
Keep a copy of your lease, condition report, rent receipts, Rental Bond Number and copies of letters/emails you send or receive in a designated ‘tenancy’ file folder and put it somewhere you can easily find it later.
- Pay Rent
Never stop paying your rent, even if the landlord is not complying with their side of the agreement (eg. by failing to do repairs) – you could end up being evicted if you do.
Comply with the terms of your lease. In particular, never make any alterations, keep a pet or let other people move in without asking the landlord or agent for permission first.
- Document Everything
Keep a diary of your dealings with the landlord or agent – record all the times and dates of conversations, who you spoke to and what they agreed to do. If repairs are needed, put your request in writing to the landlord or agent and keep a copy. This type of evidence is very helpful if a dispute arises which ends up in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Consider taking out home contents insurance. It will cover your belongings in case of theft, fires and natural disasters. The landlord’s building insurance, if they have it, will not cover your things.
- Be Clear
If the property has a pool or garden be clear about what the landlord or agent expects you to do to maintain it.
- Be Careful
Be careful with what you sign relating to your tenancy, and don’t let anybody rush you. Never sign a blank form, such as a Claim for refund of bond.
- Lock it in
If you are happy in the place and your lease ends, consider asking for the lease to be renewed for another fixed term. This will remove the worry about being unexpectedly asked to leave, and helps to lock in the rent for the next period of time.