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Tenancy Laws in Australia

Tenant protection laws

Australia's landlord and tenant laws are rated by the Global Property Guide (www.globalpropertyguide.com) to be neutral between landlord and tenant. Each party's rights are well-protected by the Residential Tenancy Act in each state. Rents can be freely negotiated. Increases are subject to review by a Tribunal if the tenant applies for a review.

Overview


State or Territory Bond Advance Rent Rental Increases Ending the tenancy
Australian Capital Territory 4 weeks rent * 1 month Not in first 12 months then only once per year for existing tenant.
8 weeks notice.
Tenant - 3 weeks notice
Landlord - from 14 days to 26 weeks
New South Wales Maximum of 4 weeks rent 2 weeks rent in advance. You can increase the rent for fixed terms over 2 years without needing to specify in the agreement
60 days notice.
Tenant - 14 days if landlord in breach of agreement
14 daysIf period of agreement is ending
Landlord - 14 days if tenant is 2 weeks or more in arrears.
30 days if agreement is coming to an end.
30 days if premises have been sold after the fixed term has ended 14 days.
90 days if fixed term period has expired and no new agreement has been signed.
Northern Territory 4 weeks rent 1 rental payment period Increase only if specified in tenancy agreement.
Agreement must state the amount of the increase or the method for calculating.
No sooner than 6 months from start of tenancy or date of last increase.
30 days notice.
Tenant - 14 days at end of fixed tenancy
Landlord - 14 days at end of fixed tenancy. 42 days for periodic tenancy.
Queensland 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is less than $500
Unlimited if the weekly rent is over $500
1 month for fixed term
2 weeks for periodic agreements
Increase only if specified in tenancy agreement.
Agreement must state the amount of the increase or the method for calculating.
2 months notice. Must be at least 6 months since last increase.
Tenant - 14 days
Landlord - 2 Months for fixed term or periodic agreement.
South Australia 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is $250 or less.
6 weeks if the weekly rent is over $250
2 weeks Increase only if specified in tenancy agreement.
Agreement must state the amount of the increase or the method for calculating.

No sooner than 6 months from start of tenancy or date of last increase.
60 days notice.
Tenant may give 21 days' notice or a period equivalent to a single period of the tenancy, whichever is the longer.
Landlord generally must give 60 days notice. If rent is in arrears more than 14 days or breach of contract then 7 days notice can be given. 90 days if no reason is given.
Tasmania 4 weeks rent 1 month Increase only if specified in tenancy agreement.
Agreement must state the amount of the increase or the method for calculating.
No sooner than 6 months from start of tenancy or date of last increase.
60 days notice.
Tenant - If the agreement is for a fixed term, there will be a specific expiry date after which the tenant may leave. The tenant is not required to give notice of termination if a fixed period agreement has expired. If an agreement is of no fixed term, the tenant can leave after giving 14 days notice to the owner without giving any reason.
Landlord - 14 days - 28 days
Victoria 1 months rent if the weekly rent is less than $350
Unlimited if the weekly rent is over $350 **
2 weeks if rent paid weekly
1 month if rent < $350 and payment frequency not weekly
Increase only if specified in tenancy agreement.
Agreement must state the amount of the increase or the method for calculating.

No sooner than 6 months from start of tenancy or date of last increase.
60 days notice.
Tenant - from 14 to 28 days
Landlord - 90 days ***
Western Australia 4 weeks rent
Unlimited if the weekly rent is over $500 or owner was living in premises for previous 3 months
$100 extra can be charged if tenant has cat or dog to cover fumigation
2 weeks during the first fortnight. After that the agreement can provide for rent payments on a weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or calendar-month basis or any other period as agreed by the landlord and the tenant. Increase only if specified in tenancy agreement.
Agreement must state the amount of the increase or the method for calculating.
No sooner than 6 months from start of tenancy or date of last increase.
60 days notice.
Tenant - 21 days
Landlord - Generally 60 days. 30 days if property is sold and contract requires vacant possession. Breach of agreement allows 7 days notice after tenant given 14 days' notice in writing to rectify breach

Notes
* Australian Capital Territory
As an alternative or in addition to the bond, the lessor can request that the tenant obtain either a guarantee, indemnity
or insurance for the performance of any obligation under a tenancy agreement.

** Victoria - Landlords who want a higher bond must apply to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
A fine of $500 can be imposed if a landlord or agent requests a higher bond without permission from VCAT. There are two circumstances where a landlord can take a bond of more than one months rent without going to VCAT. First is when the "Residential Tenancy Agreement" states the premises are the landlord's usual place of residence and the tenant is renting
it until the landlord wishes to resume living in it. Second, if the rent is more than $350 a week.
*** Victoria - The rules regarding ending the tenancy are complex for both tenant and landlord. If you want the full details view the guide at Consumer Affairs Vic. Click here click here for Victorian guidebook.


Useful guides

Legislation

Landlord and tenant issues are governed by each state's Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).


Bodies handling tenancy disputes

How effective is the Australian legal system?

Eviction for non-payment of rent
Duration until completion of service of process 3
Duration of trial 35
Duration of enforcement 6
Total Days to Evict Tenant 44
ref - Courts: The Lex Mundi Project

The tenancy tribunals and magistrates court can order evictions. The legal system in Australia is highly efficient. It takes an average of 6 days to enforce court rulings.

Rents

Landlords and the tenants can freely agree on rent in all Australian states.

Both period and fixed contracts increases or decreases in rents may be reviewed by a tribunal. Tasmania is the exception where increases in rent may be assessed by a magistrate. Tenants must make an application to get the rent increase reviewed. The tribunal will look at the range of rents charged for comparable premises in similar locations. Other considerations are the proposed rent compared to the current rent, the state of repair of the premises, the term of the tenancy, the period since the last rent increase and any other factors that the tribunal considers relevant.

In the Australian Capital Territory the rent cannot be increased more than annually . In Victoria, South Australia and in Northern Territory the property owner can only increase rent after six months. For Western Australia rents can not be increased in the first 6 months of the tenancy term and thereafter not less than 6 monthly.

New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria require 60 days notice of any rent increase. The Australian Capital Territory requires eight weeks notice. Queensland requires a minimum of one month notice for a fixed term agreement, and at least two months notice for periodic agreements. The Northern Territory requires thirty days notice regardless of the type of tenancy agreement.

Deposits

The tenant is usually required to pay both rent in advance plus a rental bond, as a security deposit in the event the tenant fails to pay rent, services, or damages the property.

The maximum advance rent is generally two weeks or a month's rent, depending on the type of tenancy agreement and the residential tenancy law for each state:

The tenant is in addition usually expected to pay a rental bond. Each state, except Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory, has its own Rental Bonds office, and maximum rates for the rental bonds differ according to the rent, type of tenancy agreement and state where the tenancy takes effect.

Ending the tenancy agreement

The two types of tenancy in Australia are fixed term tenancies for a specific period of time and periodic tenancies, which are either week to week or month to month.

A landlord can terminate a tenancy by giving notice in the approved form, or by using the tribunal. At the end of a fixed term agreement the landlord must give written notice to the tenant.

Where a fixed term tenancy expires and the tenant does not lease the residence, the tenancy is transformed into a periodic tenancy in all states, except in New South Wales, where there is automatic renewal on the same terms and conditions as before. In Western Australia, if the tenant does not leave the premises after the expiration of the agreement the landlord must apply to a Magistrates Court for termination and possession order within 30 days of conclusion of contract.

The length of notice varies in each state and each 'cause' from 7 days in Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia to 182 days in Australian Capital Territory.

Recent changes in landlord and tenant law

In 2010 a new Act was passed in NSW for Residential Tenancies. The new rules and tenany agreements were introduced 1st February 2011.
There were a number of changes and simplified rules for both landlord and tenant. Concensus is the changes are for the better.

In 2009 Queensland introduced the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. Some of the changes include

In 2005 the Northern Territory amended its Residential Tenancies Act 1999 to allow condition reports to be partly in writing and partly by using images, or entirely by using images; provision for a clause allowing the Commissioner to prepare the condition report if no agreement was reached between the landlord and the tenant; provision for a maximum notice periods for breach of tenancy agreement by either the tenant or the landlord; and protection of landlord's interest from the tenant's failure to remedy a breach after notice was given.

In 2005 the Australian Capital Territory introduced a provision to terminate the agreement at 4 weeks written notice if the lessor is posted away from Canberra, with the tenancy ending 4 weeks after receipt of notice (or on a later stated date), repayment of rental bond to the lessor; and provision for an 'enforcement condition' in termination and possession orders, with an expiry date given by the tribunal but not more than 1 year after the day the order is made.

In 2004 Tasmania prohibited up-front fees for entering into, renewing, extending or continuing a residential tenancy agreement. It also provided a prescribed time (3 working days) for security deposits to be returned. It introduced is a new emergency order mechanism for either landlord or tenant to terminate the agreement and a 28 days notice to quit or vacate the property for both landlord and tenant.

In 2002 Victoria amended its Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to require 60 days notice for a proposed rent increase, the rent not to be increased at intervals of less than 6 months, a right of entry for the landlord after the end of the first three months of tenancy, and payment of bonds before occupancy.

 

 

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