It is important when renting a property that you understand all the procedures involved. In this section we aim to cover everything from the basics, such as searching for a property online, through to the more complicated legal procedures.

Research:
Before making any decision, it is always important to do your research. Make sure you know everything there is to know about the area and type of home you are looking to lease. Have a look at the price and quality of the homes available in certain areas to give you an idea of what you may be able to secure for yourself.

The internet is always a good starting point. By using real estate search portals (such as www.realestate.com.au) you can compare multiple agents’ listings in any particular area. Newspaper classifieds and visits to your local real estate agent are also great ways to research and get a feel of what is currently available.

It is important to shop around and avoid making rash decisions. The property you choose needs to suit you both financially and practically. Make sure you check out the local schools and facilities before putting in an application.

There are significant upfront costs involved in renting a property – so make sure you budget and are confident when looking and applying for homes.


Property Viewings:
Different agents will conduct property viewings in different ways – depending on the circumstances surrounding the property.

If the property is currently tenanted, then you will need to make an appointment with the property manager to view. However, if the property is vacant, quite often property managers will schedule ‘home opens’ for multiple prospective tenants to view. If you are interested in viewing a property, contact the property manager for details.

When you do view a property, make sure you make note of things like the safety and cleanliness of the property. Check that everything you require is in working order and if there are any problems, enquire to make sure the landlord intends on getting these amended prior to you making an application.


Making an application:
If you have found the perfect home to lease, then it’s time to make an application. Speak to the property manager and find out if anyone else has made an application. At this time you can also ask them if the requested rental price is negotiable.

The property manager will run through the application process and contract with you. When making an application, you are required to pay an application fee. This is the equivalent of one week’s rent and is refunded should your application not be successful. You are also required to supply 100 points of identification along with your personal details and any references related to employment and/or previous landlords.

Your signed application will be presented to the owners on your behalf and you should be notified within 24 hours as to whether you are successful or not.


Acceptance and signing of the lease:
If your application is successful, the property manager will arrange a time with you to sign off on the lease. There will be certain clauses in the contract that you will be required to meet and these should all be explained to you thoroughly. If there is anything you don’t understand, make sure to ask questions and do not sign the lease until you are satisfied with all the clauses.

A Lease Agreement will stipulate whether it is either a periodic or fixed term agreement. A fixed term agreement sets in place a pre-determined time frame in which the tenant leases the property from the landlord. A periodic lease has no end date as such – which means either landlord or tenant can terminate the agreement at any time by giving the appropriate notice (which will be stated on the contract).

Your Lease Agreement is governed by a set of laws called the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (the Act) and the Residential Tenancies Regulations. You should be supplied with a copy of this document by the property manager, and should take this opportunity to ask any questions and get further clarification if needed. The Act protects both landlord and tenant from common issues that may arise during tenancy.

Costs involved with leasing a property are as follows:
  • Two weeks rent are required in advance;
  • The equivalent of four weeks rent is required as a Security Bond (held for any damage to the property during tenancy – if you depart the property meeting all contract requirements and in the same condition as when you moved in, minus wear and tear, this Bond is fully refundable); and
  • $260 bond is required as security if you have a pet (this must first be approved by the landlord).

Moving in:
Once the Residential Tenancy Agreement (lease) has been signed by all parties it is now unconditional and you will be able to move into the property as per the date agreed in the contact.

Make sure you update your contents insurance and notify all the relevant authorities of your change of address. Also, organise your electricity, telephone, gas, internet and removalists. A lot of agents do actually have a ‘free utility connection service’ that will do all of this for you – ask your property manager if they provide this complimentary service.


Tenancy obligations:
As a tenant, it is your responsibility to ensure you meet, and do not breach any of the terms and conditions set out in your lease agreement and in the Residential Tenancies Act. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Not causing damage to the premises and informing the landlord/manager ASAP if any damage has occurred;
  • Asking for the landlord’s permission prior to installing fixtures or making alterations or renovations of any kind to the property;
  • Avoid causing disturbances to the landlord or neighbours;
  • Not participating in illegal activities on the premises;
  • Maintaining upkeep of property (unless otherwise stated in contract), such as: keeping the property reasonably clean, replacing light bulbs and reticulation head fittings, cleaning windows and maintaining the garden;
  • Adhering to property inspections when required (the property manager/landlord must give at least 7 – 14 days notice, in writing); and
  • Making sure the rent is always up-to-date and paid on time.

Vacating the premises:
If you're on a fixed-term lease agreement which is about to expire and you do not wish to renew it or if you’ve given the appropriate notice stated in your periodic lease, then you are able to vacate the property.

If you need to break a fixed lease agreement prior to the end date stated, then speak to your property manager about the legal and financial ramifications this action would entail.

Upon conclusion of your tenancy, you are required to vacate the premises and return all keys to the property manager. They will then complete a final bond inspection amd if no faults or cleaning is applicable, then you will be required to sign a bond disposal form so you can withdraw your security bond.