Top seven mistakes that can land renters in trouble

Here are the top seven mistakes that can get renters into trouble.

Top seven mistakes renters make

Agents and tenants won’t always see eye-to-eye but when it comes to the rental property, both parties have their rights and responsibilities. It’s important to ensure all matters relating to the rental lease and the property are above board. Here are the top seven mistakes that can get renters into trouble – and how to avoid them.

1. Signing a lease without properly reading it
A rental lease is a binding legal document detailing the ‘rules’ that you, the landlord and agent must adhere to. Details include the start and length of the lease, the rent amount and due date, the bond amount and the terms of the rental agreement. Make sure to read this carefully before signing, and keep a copy to refer to during the duration of the lease.

2. Rushing the condition report
Before you move into the property the agent will ask you to complete a condition report of the dwelling. You can take this opportunity to thoroughly inspect the property, detailing in writing (and photos) any pre-existing damage you find. This helps the agent identify which items to report to the landlord for repair and also covers you when you’re ready to vacate the premises and the agent comes for a final inspection.

3. Paying the rent late
Most rental leases will state when the rent is due each month and  if a late fee will be charged. A late fee can typically be 10 per cent of one month’s rent. The date the rent is due is the day the payment reaches the agent – not the day you make the payment. Remember to make allowances for weekends and public holidays, when banks will be closed for business, as this can make your payment late.

4. Not reporting maintenance issues when they occur
The property owner is responsible for ensuring the premises is of a high living standard. He or she relies on the renter to report issues involving damage in a timely manner. Even the smallest problems matter and making sure to report them keeps you in a safe, well-maintained home.

5. Failing to notify the agent when you want to vacate
You wouldn’t want to lose your deposit or pay a whole month’s rent extra because you failed to inform the agent of your moving date. Keeping the agent informed in writing is the best money-saving advice you can follow when you’re a renter. Additionally, you’ll be giving the agent every reason to provide a positive reference for your next rental agreement.

6. Forgetting to keep records
It’s important that you keep records of all communication with the landlord and agent. This includes emails reporting damage,, a copy of the lease and condition report, and evidence of rent paid on time. You have the right to ask the agent to issue receipts for rental payments.

7. Ignoring the terms of the lease
This is where reading the lease carefully becomes paramount. One example of ignoring the terms is bringing in pets when the lease specifically states this is not allowed. Another is sub-letting a room or allowing someone to come and live there without seeking approval first. Instead of running the risk of being found out, ask the agent if the terms can be amended to allow for another occupant. In many cases, asking can get you what you want – especially if you’ve demonstrated you are a responsible renter.

What are some other common rental mistakes? Have you ever been caught out by your lease?



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    4th Aug 2017
    trouble is when you move in you only have 3 days to note all problems on the entry damage report which at the time is impossible specially if your moving in with disabled family etc
    4th Aug 2017
    No it isn't impossible. Before you move in you inspect and check the water, lights, power switches , air con etc. Should take no longer than 15 minutes.

    Making excuses for not doing sensible things can cause hours of angst afterwards both for you and the landlord.
    4th Aug 2017
    Agree tisme. Problems often don't become apparent until a tenant lives in a property for a few days/weeks. I always give a tenant a couple of weeks to submit their report.
    4th Aug 2017
    I could add a couple.
    Confirm which wheely bin is yours. They are not always numbered, they are not always in good condition, there may be one missing which is always the bin of the new tenant.

    Flush the toilet twice to make sure it is not turned off at the tap to hide faults.

    Check for any services like stove that could be on portagas when everything else in on electricity.

    Make sure there is adequate air conditioning and that it works.

    Note the common walls shared with other tenants and the bedroom is not adjacent to a shared wall in the case of noisy neighbours, or getting full blast of the afternoon sun.

    If you pay rent fortnightly with the arrival of a pension cheque, but your lease says the rent is paid weekly, make sure you are far enough ahead so you are not going into arrears for a few days every second week and the computer is not tagging you as frequently missing payments.

    Provide security on all windows and doors that provide access to the premises. You are most vunerable to thieft when people can see what you are unloading.

    4th Aug 2017
    In most cases renters should lose their bond for the damage they do to property
    But it's too hard to get at this money because the law is on their side
    5th Aug 2017
    If you take them to the tribunal you would be lucky to get a settlement for half the cost of any damage done. Landlords should not have to rewrite quotes for double the cost just to get enough to cover the damage.

    To make matters worse tenants want more rights. Looks like they will pay for more rights with more expensive rents and landlords leave properties vacant instead.

    The law is already too far skewed against tne landlord as it is. Tenants are not one bit grateful either.
    6th Aug 2017
    I've never had a problem getting bond money for wilful damage repair. Fortunately it happens very rarely. Most tenants are genuine people who try to do the right thing.

    Tenants need rights. Some landlords expect the money but don't want any of the responsibility of providing reasonable premises kept in good repair.

    It's a two way street.
    4th Aug 2017
    Take photographs when you leave and don’t allow yourself to be bullied by agents either.
    We rented for a while and when we left we were told our bond would be forfeited because we’d left the house in a dirty condition. Obviously the agent had been too lazy to check the house because if he had he’d have seen a copy of receipts from the carpet cleaners and house cleaners on the bench top. I’d also taken photographs of every room, even the inside of the cooker, showing everything was clean and in order.
    I sent the agent a copy of photos and receipts. A letter of apology came back, apparently he’d mixed me up with another tenant and my bond was returned to me in full.
    4th Aug 2017
    one realtor tried to make me replace the soil in outdoor planter boxes i would like to see how many times tenants have been stuck for the same items in a particular rental.
    4th Aug 2017
    If a Strata property give the tenants a copy of the applicable by-laws. Agents do not usualy do this. Especially high-light sections relating to parking, children on common property without adult supervision.
    4th Aug 2017
    Remember the tenant is always right no matter what they do and the landlord will never do anything right in the eyes of the tenant. Also once the tenant moves in they think they own the place and can do whatever they wish without the consent of the landlord. Agents always side with the tenant and ask the landlords to roll over on everything. Go to the tribunal and as a landlord even if you win the case you will lose as the judgement will be in favour of the tenant.
    4th Aug 2017
    thats not true , ceilings that leak , cement dust , etc etc never fixed the tribunal works for the landlord. we have lived in one house for 5 years so that should say something unfortunately they sold and we have had ratbags ever since
    5th Aug 2017
    I have been to the tribunal many times and each time I have won the case but the compensation has in no way covered the damage done by the tenant.

    I was also taken to the tribunal as I went to a BBQ at a friends place next door to a house I had tenanted. I was accused of looking into their yard and not allowing them privacy etc. This happened not once but twice. Even though you own the house you can't even drive past it these days without tenants accusing your of interferring without notice.

    That's why we now own properties and leave them vacant as tenants are not eorth the hassle.
    5th Aug 2017
    This information comes from over 44 years of renting.

    The bond & rent in advance is usually 6 weeks worth of rent, then you have the mover and the fees from your gas, electricity & phone suppliers, then there's the cost of the final clean, carpets & gardener. This can sometimes add up to and more than $2,000. If you don't have this money, then don't think about moving unless you've been given notice.

    Not everyone gets paid monthly. Most leases have the option of either weekly, fortnightly or monthly these days. There's no compulsion to pay monthly. When you're applying for a property, always indicate on the application how often you're going to pay the rent.

    In most cities/towns, you MUST inspect the property prior to applying for it. This gives you the chance to note any problems that may need to be fixed prior to you moving in (if you are approved in the first place).

    Once you're approved for a property, then you can arrange for the services to be turned on. Phone, electricity & gas. If you already have Foxtel and the new property doesn't, send the agent a request for this service to be approved by the owner. If the property already has it, then it's no problems.

    I always request that the locks to the property be 'keyed alike'. Most landlords don't have a problem. You must always give the agent a copy of the new key. If you have a lockable screen door and have a key to it, ask the locksmith to key that to the new one. It may cost a bit, but it's worth it for peace of mind that no one would have any key to your property.

    I've had one property where the strata didn't want to give approval for a Foxtel dish to be appended to the unit. This property had 3 units in 1 block and #2 already had a dish on the roof. In the end, after much toing & froing, the Foxtel installer used the original dish and put a splitter on it so that all 3 units could have Foxtel if they wanted to. Then the rubbish from strata was disposed of. Don't be fooled by any landlord or strata department that the Foxtel dish is to be removed on vacation of the property. Telstra (who own Foxtel) say 'The dish remains at the property until the property is destroyed or is being demolished. The dish doesn't become the owner's property once you leave.

    In this post, I'm talking New South Wales regulations. Other states will be different, of course. So check out your state's 'Fair Trading' website. It's IMPORTANT that you've at least visited this website before you sign any lease for updates on legislation which will affect you.

    The condition reports are due to be returned within 7 days of signing the lease. Plenty of time to do those minute details & take photos.

    I don't move on the weekend, but on at least the Monday after signing the lease when it's quieter and the mover's fees are so much more affordable.

    Most leases have a 'Special Conditions' section where there are extra conditions not listed in the 'formal' lease.

    Most leases have a notification schedule for vacating the property.

    At The End of A Fixed Term Lease
    'If you want to end your tenancy when the fixed term period of the agreement is due to run out, you will need to give at least 14 (clear) days' notice. This notice can be given up to and including the last day of the fixed term.'

    After the Fixed Term
    'If you want to end your tenancy after the fixed term has ended (and you have not signed another agreement), you will need to give at least 21 (clear) days' notice. This notice can be given at any time and does not have to line up with the rent payment cycle. You must pay the rent up to and including the day your notice ends and you vacate.'

    For Landlords
    'If your landlord serves you with a termination notice you can move out any time before the notice ends without having to give your own notice. If you were given notice because of the end of the fixed term, you are responsible for paying the rent until the last day of the fixed term. Otherwise no further rent is payable from the day you hand back vacant possession after getting a termination notice from the landlord.'

    The times for these notices are: 30 (clear) days before the end of the fixed term of the lease, and 90 (clear) days after the term of the lease has expired and no new lease has been signed.

    Always hand deliver (if possible) your vacation notice. If not, then e-mail it and then post a copy. The notice dates are not confirmed until the agent has received a 'hard' copy of the notice, so if you're giving say, 3 weeks notice, make sure they agent gets the letter 22 days before the final date. The first day does not start until the day after the receipt of the notice.

    When you vacate the premises, MAKE SURE YOU'RE PRESENT AT THE FINAL INSPECTION. Then any problems can be fixed. Most agents will ask that you use their preferred cleaners, etc. If you do, and give them a copy (not the original) of the receipts, then any cleaning issues will be fairly & squarely in the cleaner's court and you don't have to pay any more to get them done. It's then between the agent & cleaner. I know it may be more expensive, but there's the assurance that you don't have to go back and re-clean for what you've paid for. Always have your bank account details ready to note on the Bond Refund Form. If you're due a full refund, make sure that there is NIL written in the box where the agent fills out their amount for refund.

    My preferred day to sign a lease is Friday of pay week. I get paid on a Tuesday, which gives me plenty of time to pay my rent by bank transfer. There's not many public holidays on Tuesday (Except maybe Christmas/Boxing Day, New Year's Day or Australia Day, when we get paid early anyway).

    Most agents give you information packs, which includes your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, information on how to request maintenance, a photocopy of the keys given, how to end your tenancy and a signed copy of the lease.

    If you're on Centrelink/DVA you'll need to take the lease to the local office and change your address and they will usually take a copy of the lease & signatures and change the rental payment details, too. Make sure that this is done, or you'll get a 'Rent Certificate' in the mail and then have to verify all the information you've already given AGAIN.

    That's me for today.
    7th Aug 2017
    Foxtel is not owned by Telstra. They have a 50% share with News Ltd owning the other 50%.
    5th Aug 2017
    I forgot one.
    If moving from New south Wales to Queensland or any interstate move. The lease conditions are different. (for example) Queensland often requires curtins to be professionally cleaned when vacating and nothing but a receipt from a professional cleaner will suffice. Its almost like the cleaning business is a good sideline, if you are in real estate.

    Tags: money, renting, house,

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