A tenancy agreement is normally in writing and both the tenant and the landlord sign it. All tenancy agreements are legal contracts, even if they are verbal. If the agreement is written, the details of the agreement are easier to prove 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
- landlord’s name and address – eg residential or postal 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 paid
- how long the lease agreement lasts
- who pays for water supply and use
- a list of all domestic appliances that need instructions - eg air conditioner or stove
- anything excluded from the agreement – eg tenant’s use of the shed.
- any other terms – eg rules about pets
- 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 variation to the agreement in paper or electronic form for at least two years after the tenancy has ended.
Before entering into a tenancy agreement a landlord must inform 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 209.2 KB (Form 4A) .
Fixed term agreement
Fixed term lease agreements are for a specific term - eg 12 months. They 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. The condition will need to include how the increase will be worked out - eg according to CPI.
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 - notice by landlord - notice by tenant. 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 a fixed term lease is being extended. 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 agreement 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 the tenant gives written notice to move out or the landlord gives 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.
The landlord 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 a lease agreement
Details in a lease agreement cannot be changed unless the:
- tenant agrees 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.