A tenancy agreement is normally in writing and signed by both the tenant and landlord.
All tenancy agreements are legal contracts, including verbal agreements. However, if it's in writing, the details of the agreement are easier to check if there is a problem.
A written lease agreement must include:
- name, address, phone number and registration number of the agent if one is used
- the landlord’s name and address. Landlords who don’t have an agent must also provide a phone number
- name of all tenants included in the agreement
- address of premises
- rent amount and how and when it is to be paid
- the amount of the bond
- how long the lease agreement lasts
- who pays for water supply and use
- a list of all domestic appliances in the property that require instruction such as the air conditioner
- anything excluded from the agreement for instance the tenant’s use of the shed
- any other terms like rules about pets
- the date and signature of all parties to the agreement.
Extra conditions can be included in a lease as long as they don't contradict the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 .
A landlord must keep a copy of a written agreement and any changes to it, in paper or electronic form, for at least two years after the tenancy ends.
Before entering into an agreement a landlord must tell a prospective tenant if they have advertised, or intend to advertise the property for sale and of any existing sales agency agreement. If this is not done and the landlord sells the property in the first 2 months of the agreement the tenant can give the landlord a notice of termination due to sale of property (Form 4A).
Fixed term agreements
Fixed term lease agreements are for a specific term ,12 months for example, and include the date the tenancy ends. The date can only be changed if the landlord and tenant agree.
Rent can't be increased during a fixed term agreement unless a condition is included in the agreement allowing for an increase.
Ending a fixed term lease
The tenant or the landlord must tell the other person if the lease agreement is ending and will not be renewed at least 28 days before the end date. A written notice must be given:
If no one gives notice the agreement continues as a periodic lease.
If the tenant moves out before the end of the agreement, they may need to pay break lease costs .
Extending a fixed term lease
The landlord can give a written notice of lease extension to a tenant if they want to extend a fixed term lease. A new lease agreement is another option. Rent can be increased with either option if there hasn’t been an increase for 12 months.
Short fixed term agreement
Short fixed term leases are tenancy agreements for up to 90 days. Other conditions stay the same as a traditional fixed term agreement. At the start of the tenancy the landlord needs to give the tenant a written notice of a short fixed term agreement as well as a lease agreement. Both documents must be signed by the landlord and the tenant.
Periodic lease agreements do not have a date that the tenancy ends. They continue until either the tenant or landlord give written notice to end the tenancy.
Notice to end a periodic lease
The tenant must give at least 21 days written notice or one month's written notice if rent is paid monthly. The landlord can agree to accept less than the required notice. This agreement should be in writing.
The landlord needs to give at least 90 days written notice to end a periodic agreement for no specific reason, or can give 60 days’ written notice if:
- the property owner wants to live in the property
- major renovations are needed
- demolition is planned
- the property has been sold and the contract states that the property will be vacant.
After a 60 day notice is given a landlord cannot enter into another tenancy for 6 months unless the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) gives consent.
Changing the conditions of an agreement
Details in a lease agreement cannot be changed unless the:
- tenant agree to the new conditions
- changes are written clearly on the original lease agreement
- changes are signed by both the tenant and landlord.
The landlord must give a copy of the changed agreement to the tenant and keep one for their records.
Landlords can ask a prospective tenant for a consideration payment before the lease agreement is signed. If the prospective tenant makes a payment, they’re agreeing to sign a lease agreement at a later date.
If the prospective tenant doesn’t sign the agreement, the landlord may keep all or some of the payment. If they do sign the lease agreement, the landlord must put the consideration payment towards the rent payable outlined in the agreement.
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- Rent charges, increases and receipts
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