Information for Tenants
Ask your agent to explain conditions that you may not understand and obtain the advice of a solicitor if legal interpretation is required.
This information is designed to help you understand your rights and obligations as a tenant under the Residential Tenancy Agreement. You should also read the Residential Tenancy Agreement carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of all of the conditions.
The law in South Australia is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 and the Residential Tenancy Regulations 1995. These documents are available from the State Information Centre, 77 Grenfell Street, Adelaide Ph: 08 8204 1900. The Act is administered by the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and the Residential Tenancies Branch of the Office of Consumer & Business Affairs. Further information concerning your rights and obligations is available from the Tenancies Branch on Ph: 08 8204 9544.
When you visit a real estate agent and apply to rent a property, be prepared to provide references and information about yourself and other intending occupants. As agents are entrusted with the management of the landlord's property, it is essential that they check a tenant's credentials before the property is let.
The Tenancy Agreement
A Residential Tenancy Agreement allows a tenant to take 'possession' of a property for a limited period of time on certain conditions, including the payment of rent. The Residential Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding contract whereby both parties agree to abide by the conditions set out in the Agreement. Make sure that you read the Agreement in full and are familiar with all of the conditions included in it.
When you sign the Residential Tenancy Agreement you will receive a copy so that you have a record of each party's rights and responsibilities. You will also receive an Inspection Sheet setting out the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy.
The Residential Tenancies Act 1995 permits the tenant to pay only the rent, a security and certain contributions to connected utilities (such as water) during the term of a Residential Tenancy Agreement.
A rental bond is paid by a tenant as a form of security for the landlord against breaches of the Residential Tenancy Agreement. The amount of bond to be paid varies according to the type of property involved, and can be summarised as follows:
- Four weeks rent where there is a rent of $250 per week or less
- Six weeks rent where there is a rent of more than $250 per week
You will be required to sign a bond lodgement form to be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. Upon vacating the property, providing all is in order, the agent will sign a claim form so that you can have the bond paid back to you. If all or part of the bond has been paid to the landlord (eg for cleaning or repairs), and you are agreeable to the amount deducted, you should sign the form claiming repayment accordingly.
The Residential Tenancy Agreement will state when you are able to take possession of the property (ie the day on which your tenancy commences). You will be required to pay rent from that date even if you move into the property later. Rent may be paid on a mutually agreeable basis (ie weekly, fortnightly or monthly).
If in unforeseen circumstances you have to vacate before the Residential Tenancy Agreement is due to end, contact the agent who will explain your obligations and endeavour to help you.
Condition of premises
The Inspection Report is a record of inspection showing the condition of the property at the beginning of your tenancy. You should refer any differences to the agent promptly to get them resolved.
Locks and keys
The changing of locks or other security devices are alterations which should not be conducted without the written consent of the landlord. It's always a good idea to ensure that you have a spare key in the event that you are locked out. Keys held by the agent are for their use in case access to the property is required in an emergency.
You have the right to use and occupy the premises without unreasonable interference from the landlord or their agent. However, they do have the right of access when it is necessary to inspect the premises or carry out repairs.
The Residential Tenancy Agreement permits access between certain times on any day except Sunday or public holidays as long as it is mutually convenient. Access may be obtained at any time, however, with your consent or in an emergency.
Rent is to be paid in advance as set out in the Residential Tenancy Agreement. You are entitled to receive receipts for rent paid. If you send payments by mail you should make some arrangement for the collection or forwarding your receipts. If at any time you cannot pay the rent when it is due, it is important that you inform the agent and make arrangements for payment. If you allow overdue payments to mount up the agent would be entitled to terminate your Residential Tenancy Agreement.
Care of the premises
Your Agreement requires that you do not damage the property and that you keep it clean and tidy. Do not fix posters or pictures to the wall or make alterations to the premises without the consent of the landlord.
Care of the garden
If you are renting a house you are required to keep the grounds and gardens tidy and free from rubbish. This includes mowing the lawns and generally keeping the garden in order.
The Residential Tenancy Agreement expressly forbids you to have pets in the property without the landlord's consent. If you have a pet, advise the agent and do not attempt to conceal the fact as this could create a problem for all parties.
The Regulations under the Strata Titles Act or the Community Titles Act will apply to any tenant who occupies a unit in a Strata Title Scheme or Community Title Scheme, as the case may be. These Regulations control the use of car parking facilities and the common property. The Residential Tenancy Agreement contains the specific rules or regulations affecting the use of the units.
Notify the agent promptly of any loss, damage or defect in the premises, regardless of how it may have been caused. You should be prepared to pay for the repairs if damage has been caused by your carelessness, negligence or failure to observe the conditions of the Residential Tenancy Agreement. In other circumstances the agent will arrange for damage to be repaired at the landlord's expense if it affects your use of the property.
If necessary arrange to be home on the appointed day to give tradespersons access to the property and to explain the problem.
The Residential Tenancy Agreement provides for the notice you must give before vacating the property. In preparing to leave make sure that the property will be left clean. Inside windows, blinds, walls and woodwork should be cleaned. Pay particular attention to the stove, oven and griller in the kitchen. Special attention should also be paid to cleaning the bathroom when preparing to vacate. All appliances and fittings should be left in good working order for the next occupant.
Make sure all of your belongings are removed from the property and that any rubbish is removed. Arrange for an inspection of the premises by the agent, leave a forwarding address and finally return all keys.