It may not be a best-selling page-turner, but taking the time to read and understand your lease agreement is the best way to avoid unwanted surprises.
As a new tenant you’ll need to sign a lease agreement before moving into a new rental property.
A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your landlord that sets out the terms of the tenancy, including the agreed rent, your responsibilities as a tenant, and any special conditions set out by the landlord.
Here are seven important questions you should ask to ensure you fully understand the terms of your lease agreement:
What are the terms?
Most rental properties are offered as either fixed-term or month-to-month lease periods. Fixed-term means that you’re locked into the lease agreement for the stated period (usually six to 12 months). Month-to-month terms means your lease can be terminated following 28 days notice. Also take note that a fixed-term lease may automatically transfer to a month-to-month agreement after the fixed term expires.
Whose name is on the lease?
This is particularly important if you’re moving into a rental property with a partner, friend or housemates. Keep in mind that the person listed on the lease is legally responsible for ensuring rent is paid on time and for any damage caused – whether it’s your fault or not.
How much is the bond?
Your lease agreement will also state how much bond you’ll need to pay. This is usually equal to four weeks’ rent, however can vary from property to property and may be as much as eight weeks’ rent.
Are there any special conditions?
Some lease agreements will list special conditions or requests from the landlord. For example, if your rental property has timber floors your lease may state that all furniture must be fitted out with felt pads to prevent scratching. Violating any special conditions listed in your lease agreement may affect whether your bond is returned to you when you move out.
Can you sub-let?
This is an important question if you’re renting a sharehouse. While some landlords will allow you to simply replace a roommate when they move out, others will require any new housemates to be listed on the lease. Fail to do so and you may face eviction.
What is the pet policy?
The lease agreement will also state whether you’re allowed to have pets, and if so may set out breed restrictions and/or guidelines about how to care for a pet-friendly property. For example, your lease agreement may state that you’ll need to pay for professional carpet cleaning or flea treatment before you move out.
The following advice is of a general nature and intended as an opinion and broad guide. For all legal, financial or real estate advice you should obtain independent professional advice to do with the specific nature of your circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.