Tenant FAQs

First National Grafton put you first when it comes to renting a property

How much notice do I have to give to get out of my lease?

When you sign a fixed term tenancy agreement (lease) you are committing to stay for the full term. If your circumstances change and you want to move out before the end of the fixed term there are potential costs involved. There are some circumstances where a fixed term agreement can be terminated early without penalty.

Breaking your tenancy agreement during the fixed term can be costly. You may have to pay:

● rent until a new tenant takes over or the fixed term period ends, whichever occurs first, and

● a percentage of the advertising costs and the agent's re-letting fee (if the landlord uses an agent).

For example, if you break the lease 9 months into a 12 month tenancy there is 25% of the lease remaining, so you would expect to pay 25% of these amounts.

If you need to end your agreement early you should give as much notice as you can. The landlord or agent must take all reasonable steps to find a replacement tenant as soon as possible. The more you can do to help, the less you may have to pay. You should make it as easy as possible for the landlord or agent to show the premises to potential new tenants. If you are concerned that it is taking a long time to find a new tenant, you can check that the landlord or agent is trying to re-let the property. Check the agent's website and their list of available rental properties. The landlord and agent must try to keep your costs to a minimum. For example, if they do anything to make it harder to find a new tenant (such as asking for a higher rent or unreasonably rejecting potential tenants) you may not have to pay the full amount they are asking.

Once the new tenant is found the landlord or agent will request payment for the amount you owe. If you don't pay or if you disagree with the amount, the landlord or agent will usually claim from your bond or apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Be aware that if you owe more money than the bond your name could be listed on a tenancy database. Such listings can make it difficult to rent again anywhere in Australia.

If the fixed term of the agreement is for 3 years or less the break fee is:

● 6 weeks rent if you move out in the first half of the fixed term

● 4 weeks rent if you move out in the second half of the fixed term.

If the fixed term is for more than 3 years and you and the landlord agree to include a break fee clause, you can agree on the amount and write it into the agreement. Where there is a break fee in your agreement that is all you have to pay if you move out early. However, if the landlord or agent find a new tenant quickly it does not mean that you will get any of the break fee back. It is a fixed fee.

As a Tenant, does my Landlord’s Insurance Cover protect my contents if I am in an ongoing lease?

No, the Landlord's Insurance covers the building and public liability but not the contents. 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.

Who is responsible for changing light bulbs in a rental property?

It is the Tenant's responsibility to change light bulbs in the property they rent.

What is TICA?

TICA is the Largest Tenant Screening Service in Australia. Over 6,500 members access TICA's databases to enquire on tenancy applicants. TICA members may report tenants to our Tenancy History Database (subject to State legislation).

Lodging my Tenant Bond

Rental Bonds Online (RBO) is a service to lodge, manage and refund rental bonds easily and securely online.

From 30 January 2017, property agents and self-managing landlords must be registered with RBO. Agents and landlords must also offer the service to tenants as the first option for lodgement of their bond.

RBO provides a fast and convenient way to:

• Lodge, view and claim residential rental bonds online without having to send cheques and paper forms.

• Receive email and SMS phone notifications confirming what is happening with a rental bond.

• View notifications and key tasks awaiting your action within RBO.

What is the process of evicting a tenant?

If the Landlord wants a tenant to vacate, a termination notice must be issued to the tenant. The notice must:

• be in writing

• be signed and dated by the Landlord or Agent

• be properly addressed to the tenant

• give the day on which the residential tenancy agreement is terminated and by which the tenant is required to vacate

• where appropriate, give the grounds/reason for the notice.

The minimum period of notice required to give the tenant to vacate is:

• 14 days – if the tenant is 14 days or more behind with the rent or has committed some other breach of the tenancy agreement;

• 30 days – if the fixed term of the agreement is due to end;

• 30 days – if the premises have been sold after the fixed term has ended and vacant possession is required by the buyer under the terms of the sale contract;

• 90 days – if the fixed term period has expired and no new agreement has been signed.

These notice periods are designed to give tenants reasonable time to find another rental property. If they can find a property sooner they can move out at any time without having to give you any formal notice. Except where notice has been given for the end of the fixed term, the tenant's responsibility to pay rent ends from the date they hand back possession, not the end of the notice.

On what grounds can a tenant be evicted?

There is no minimum notice period required if notice is given on the grounds of:

• the premises being destroyed or wholly or partly uninhabitable

• ceasing to be legally usable as a residence

• being acquired by compulsory process (eg. by the RTA)

• on the death of the sole tenant.

After you issue a notice you can issue another notice on a different ground if necessary. For example, if you issue 90 days notice to terminate a periodic tenancy without a reason, and the tenant then doesn't pay rent for 14 days, you can issue a non-payment of rent notice.

My Landlord has listed my property for sale can I move out?

If your Landlord notifies you of their intention to sell the property during the fixed term of your tenancy, you can end your agreement, without having to compensate the landlord for the early termination, by giving at least 14 days’ notice. However, this does not apply if, before you entered into the tenancy agreement, your landlord disclosed the proposed sale to you for which a contract for sale was prepared.

Can I have a pet in my rental property?

You are only allowed to keep a pet in your rental property if the landlord agrees in writing. Often details regarding pet registration, age, names, and photos may be required.

When can I move in?

You can move into the property on the lease start date, so long as the lease has been signed, the bond paid and receipted, and 2 weeks rent has been paid. When all of these things have been done, the keys to the property will be photocopied and signed out to you as the tenant.

Can my rent be increased during my fixed term rental agreement?

During a fixed term rental agreement of less than 2 years, the rent cannot be increased, unless a condition has been added to the agreement saying it can.

During a fixed term agreement of 2 years or more, the rent can be increased at anytime (so long as 60 days notice is given) but cannot be increased more than once in any 12 month period.

Tips for Tenants

• Pay your rent on or before the due date, and always remain in advance.

• Maintain the property in a clean state so when routine inspections are conducted by the agents they can provide a good report to the landlord.

• Keep in contact with your agent if you get into difficult situations.

• Report faults with the property promptly and in the manner which the property manager has advised.

• Avoid being abusive even if a Property Manager can't see your point of view.

• Do not sub-let without your Property Managers appropriate written approval.

• Provide the adequate and proper notice when vacating the property in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act.

• Avoid confrontations with neighbours.

• Avoid loud and disruptive parties.

• Abide by the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement.

• Keep all documentation in relation to the rental such as – rental receipts, tenancy agreements, rental bond claims, condition reports and any other information that may be required in the future.