A rental agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant whereby a landlord gives a tenant the right to occupy the residential premises.
A rental agreement can be written, verbal or implied. Since the rental agreement is the most important part of a landlord and tenant relationship, it should be in writing. The advantage of a written agreement is that it outlines the terms and conditions agreed to by both parties. Once the landlord and tenant agree to the terms and conditions of their contract, it cannot be changed unless both parties agree.
What information does a landlord have to provide to a tenant at the time of entering into a rental agreement?
A tenancy agreement must include:
- the name and address of the tenant and property manager/owner
- the start and end date of the agreement (or state that it is periodic)
- how the tenant should pay rent and how much is to be paid
- standard terms (what the tenant and the property manager/owner can and cannot do)
- any special terms (these should be agreed in advance, e.g. a dog is allowed but must be kept outside or carpet cleaning
A rental agreement can be for a fixed period of time, or a periodic period. If a landlord and tenant sign a written rental agreement for a fixed period of time, they are bound by the terms and conditions until the end of the fixed term.
A landlord is not responsible for damages to a tenant's personal property. If a tenant wishes to be compensated for losses or damages to their personal belongings, the tenant should obtain tenant insurance.
On, or before, the day the tenant occupies the property, they must:
- sign the agreement
- return the agreement to the property manager/owner within 5 days of receiving it
The property manager/owner must:
- sign the agreement
- return a copy to the tenant within 14 days
It should be clear to the landlord and tenant, upon entering into a rental agreement, what services and equipment are included with the rent.
The rent is due weekly. If the rent is not paid on the due date, the landlord may serve the tenant with a Notice To Remedy if the tenant becomes 7 clear days in arrears, this gives the tenant a further 7 days to rectify the rent and should they fail to the lessor has the right to instruct the agent to issue Notice to Vacate.
Real estate and property agents have the right to select the most appropriate tenant or purchaser provided that the decision is not based on unlawful discrimination. Tenants, potential tenants and property buyers should be assessed on their individual merits rather than on the basis of bias or prejudice. Unfair assumptions about people because of their age, sex, race, parental status etc can result in unlawful discrimination. Real estate agents and property owners therefore have the right to select a tenant primarily on the basis of the tenant's ability to fulfill basic tenancy responsibilities such as paying the rent on time and maintaining the premises.