Starting a tenancy

See advice for landlords and tenants in relation to COVID-19 on the CBS website.

Both tenants and landlords have legal responsibilities. This applies if the landlord manages a rental property themselves or employs an agent to manage it for them. These responsibilities are explained in:

Property managers working for a registered agent must complete specific training and be registered.

A landlord should make sure the management agreement with the agent includes details of everything agreed. For example, the agent will arrange maintenance and repairs up to an agreed cost and if it will be more they must check with the landlord.

Landlord responsibilities

The landlord must meet all conditions in the lease agreement as well as:

  • provide the property in a clean and reasonable state at the start of the tenancy
  • provide written or verbal instructions for any domestic appliances in the property that require instruction such as cooktops, ovens, dishwashers or an air conditioner
  • lodge bond money with Consumer and Business Services (CBS)
  • provide a copy of the signed lease agreement, written notice setting out contact details, the information brochure, and completed inspection sheets
  • give proper receipts and keep records of any money paid
  • pay council rates and taxes
  • maintain the property to a reasonable standard and organise repairs
  • provide and maintain locks so that the property is reasonably secure
  • allow tenants to live in reasonable peace, comfort and privacy in the property during their tenancy.

If a landlord doesn't meet their responsibilities, a tenant may give them a written notice to end the lease.

Tenant responsibilities

The tenant must meet all conditions in the lease agreement as well as:

If a tenant doesn't meet their responsibilities, a landlord can give them a written notice to end the lease.

Forms and fact sheets for starting a tenancy

The landlord may be fined if the lease agreement, information brochure and inspection sheets are not given to the tenant at the start of a tenancy.

Rental application form

Many landlords ask prospective tenants to complete a rental application form. CBS doesn’t provide this form. A landlord can create their own and ask for information about the prospective tenant's:

  • identity
  • contact details
  • likely occupants, such as a partner and children
  • income
  • previous rental details
  • reason for moving
  • length of time they plan to rent.

Some people might not have a rental history. A reference from people who have known them either professionally or personally could help with deciding whether the tenant will be suitable.

Questions a landlord could ask a previous landlord about the tenant:

  • did they pay rent on time
  • did they keep the property clean
  • did they do any damage to the property
  • were there problems with noise or disputes with neighbours
  • would they rent to the tenant again.


A landlord has the right to choose a suitable tenant. Unless the landlord lives at the property, they can't refuse to have children in a rental property.

If the landlord refuses to consider a tenant for a property and the tenant believes that they have been discriminated against, they can contact the Equal Opportunity Commission.


The landlord arranges insurance for the property/building. Some insurance companies offer packages specifically for landlords.

The tenant arranges contents insurance for their personal belongings. Tenants should check exactly what their insurance covers them for. If a tenant causes damage to the property the landlord does not have to make an insurance claim for the repair.

Advice, support and education

Enrol in a free two-hour information session held by CBS. These sessions provide details of the rights and obligations of an agent, landlord or tenant.

Subscribe or download tenancies newsletters. These updates provide information to landlords, agents and tenants about changes that may affect their residential tenancy.

Contact CBS Tenancies


Phone: 131 882

GPO Box 965
Adelaide SA 5001

Related information

On this site

Other websites

How to treat rental income and expenses - Australian Taxation Office

For an alternative version of a document on this page contact CBS.

Was this page useful?

Page last updated 9 April 2020

Provided by:
Attorney-General's Department
Last Updated:
Printed on:
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2021