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?