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:
- lease agreement signed at the start of the tenancy
- information brochure which is given at the start of the tenancy
- Residential Tenancies Act 1995.
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.
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.
The tenant must meet all conditions in the lease agreement as well as:
- pay rent in full when it is due - what to do if the tenant has trouble paying rent due to severe rental distress as a result of COVID-19
- keep the property reasonably clean and free from health and fire hazards
- not cause or allow damage, either intentionally or through negligence, to the property
- not allow the property to be used for illegal purposes
- allow other neighbours and residents to live in comfort, peace and privacy
- notify the landlord of any repairs or maintenance needed as soon as possible.
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 information brochure - must be given to the tenant at the start of a lease agreement. It sets out the general rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant.
- A copy of the signed lease agreement must be given to the tenant within 21 days of signing.
- Information to be provided to tenants - written notice setting out contact details.
- Inspection sheets must be completed and provided to the tenant at the start of a lease agreement. This records the condition of the property when the tenancy starts and ends.
- Landlords must lodge the bond, including any part payment, within two weeks of receiving the money. Bonds can be lodged online or by submitting a bond lodgement form to CBS.
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:
- contact details
- likely occupants, such as a partner and children
- 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.
On this site
- Repairs and maintenance
- Rent charges, increases and receipts
- Water and other charges
- Internet and other services
- Tenancy bonds
How to treat rental income and expenses - Australian Taxation Office
For an alternative version of a document on this page contact CBS.