Guides

The tenant’s cheat sheet

The tenant’s cheat sheet is a quick guide to rental jargon in Australia. Because each state and territory have slightly different rental regulations, research exactly how the rules apply to you.

Agent/ Estate Agent/ Real Estate Agent
Also called a property manager. The landlord pays the agent to manage their property and the relationship with you, the tenant.  Treat them well because one day you’ll need them to call in repairmen.

Amenities
Amenities are the elements of a property that make it both a comfy and functional place to call home.

Body corporate
Also known as Owners Corporation. Have you ever wondered who takes care of the common areas in shared spaces in apartment or townhouse complexes? Think foyers, gyms, shared gardens and driveways.

Bond
The bond is your promise to the landlord that you will take good care of their property while you call it home. It can be up to 4 – 6 weeks rent. When you move out, if the property isn’t in tip-top shape, the landlord can keep all of the bond, or just some of it – here are 10 top tips to make sure you get your bond back.

Breach of agreement
Clashes can come up when tenants or landlords don’t stick to what they agreed to in the lease contract. Because of these situations, mediation and notices can resolve breaches of agreement.

Deposit
A small down-payment that you negotiate with the agent. It allows the property to be put on hold for you until the tenancy agreement can be drawn up for you to sign. You receive your deposit in full.

Eviction
Oh ow! Evictions are court orders to vacate a property that police can enforce. They are reserved for worst case scenarios (those segments that you would have seen play out on A Current Affair and Today Tonight). If eviction is on the cards contact the tenancy union in your state to learn your rights.

Fixed-term tenancy
The fixed-term tenancy outlines exactly how long you will be living at the premises paying rent. 12 months tenancies are standard but feel free to negotiate a shorter or longer period with the agent.

Furnished Apartment
Just like it sounds, a furnished apartment has furniture in place when you move in. If you don’t mind living on other people’s furniture, for the cost of a few extra dollars each month all you need to do is move in.

Landlord
The landlord owns the property you rent. You probably will never meet them because the agent is paid to manage you and the premises on their behalf. They’re responsible for the upkeep of the amenities.

Lease
Also called a tenancy or rental agreement. It’s a legal contract that sets out the rental terms signed by the landlord, all residents and the agent. This is the one document in life where you really should read the fine print.

Mediation
When tenants and landlords are in dispute over breaches of the tenancy agreement, they enter a mediation process to figure it out. The process pinpoints the issues and options to resolve it. If you want, call in a lawyer.

Notice
If you are unhappy about a situation the landlord needs to fix, you can serve a notice that gives them 7 – 14 days to fix it. But remember, landlords can serve notices on tenants too.

Premises
This is the address you’re paying to live in. It might be the landlord’s property but it is yours to call home for the tenancy period.

Property Condition Report
A written and photographic record of all the imperfections in and outside the house before you moved in. Getting your bond money back depends on having no additional damage marked on the report when you leave. As long as you leave the property the way you found it, you should be fine.

Rental Agreement (see lease)

Right of Entry
Landlords and agents have right of entry but they just can’t turn up unannounced.  Tenants should receive 7 days notice first (so they can get the cleaning done J). In some cases, like urgent repairs, only 24 hours notice is necessary.

Security bond (see bond)

Share housing
Share housing is a rite of passage for anyone in their twenties. It is when at least two unrelated people take out a lease together to save on the amount they pay on rent and utilities. Warning: Friendships may be ruined and you should probably get used to dirty dishes in the sink.

Share housing agreement
Similar to the lease agreement, this sets which parts of the premises that sub-tenants can use freely.

Sub-let
Otherwise known as a sub-tenancy. The tenant can get permission from the landlord to rent out a room or the entire premises to another person. The original tenant is effectively the landlord of the sub-tenant.

Sub-tenant (see sub-let)

Tenant
The tenant is you, the person named on the lease agreement who is paying rent to live at the landlord’s premises. There can be a number of tenants on the lease.

Termination of a tenancy
Leases can be terminated early.  Depending on the circumstances 14 – 28 days notice must be given in writing to the agent. If you are the one calling it quits, expect to receive a bill for lease-break costs.