A renter’s life is not an easy one, especially if you’re pulling your weight to tackle your share of duties by the book. Fortunately for tenants in the Land down under, responsibilities and costs are not all there is to be had once you sign the residential tenancy agreement.
Rental expenses and maintenance obligations are only the flip side of residential property lease in Australia, and the perks of rental agreements are cooler than you think. Here are a few rights you probably don’t know you’re entitled to under Australian law on property rentals, as a renter with a valid residential tenancy agreement.
The Reasonable Clause
According to the Australian tenancy law, the landlord is obliged to provide a rental property fit for occupancy, i.e. in a ‘reasonably’ clean state and in ‘reasonable’ repair. This means that you don’t have to waste your time and resources on extensive cleanups, carpet and upholstery steam-cleaning, and fixes prior to moving in. All you need to do is drop a polite cue referring to the legally binding ‘reasonable cleanliness and repair’ clause in the conversation with your landlord and have them sort out the bits and ends on their own, as envisaged in the law.
After all, if you’re going to be paying the rent on a monthly basis, your landlord has to at least meet their law-prescribed responsibilities and obligations and make the place livable before you drop your gear on the floor.
Discrimination not Allowed
Another legal provision that safeguards tenants’ rights in the Land down under is the clause on (non-)discrimination. Based on race, age, sex, gender identity, sexuality, disability, and marital status, it suggests that the landlord can be sued for ending the occupancy agreement or denying tenancy to applicants based on personal likes and dislikes.
Under the Australian law, property-owners have the obligation to provide all the benefits relevant to accommodation regardless of their opinion of your lifestyle choices, ethnicity, age, choice of partner, and relationship status for as long as you’re not living in the flat together with the landlord or their close relatives.
Early Walkouts Welcome
As a renter, you have the right to early termination of a fixed-term tenancy agreement in case the landlord doesn’t meet their part of the deal (i.e. fails to fix a hardware issue which requires immediate attention or increases the rent before the agreement expiry date).
The occupant can also demand early annulment of the rental property agreement if tenancy continuance would cause them any undue hardships. Now, this is a sweet bonus you can quote should the flat you’re living in become unsuitable for any reason which you can back with solid arguments.
Don’t Get Locked out of Justice
You have the right to file a complaint to the authorities if the landlord or an agent replaces the lock on the rental property without your prior consent. If the property owner changes the security device on your front door without asking you for permission or notifying you about the safety upgrade, you can even sue them granted the lock was replaced without a reasonable excuse.
This means that you don’t have to worry about returning home from work only to find yourself locked out of your belongings and your temporary accommodation. Plus, you can also demand rent reduction for the period during which the premises were not reasonably secure, and you can apply to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal requesting compensation for your belongings that went missing due to lower than reasonable security.
The Right to Sub-Letting
If you signed the residential tenancy agreement as the head-tenant, you have the right to sub-let a part of the premises with the landlord’s written consent. This is a particularly neat clause, as it entitles the renter to pick flat-mates and sub-tenants on their own and earn some cash on the side by sub-leasing a room or two for student accommodation purposes. The best part is: according to the law, the landlord must not unreasonably withhold their consent for the sub-lease for as long as you’re living on their property and are listed in the occupancy agreement as the only head-tenant.
Tenants in Australia are pretty happy campers. Unlike in some other countries, the law is on the occupant’s side even for minor points such as the property shape and early termination of the rental agreement, to say nothing of discrimination, security, and sub-leasing. Pay the rent and bills for your rental flat on time, and justice will take care of everything else for you. You’re welcome.