Tenancy Agreements: all you need to know
Once you’ve found your dream rental and been given the go ahead from the landlord (wahoo), you generally need to sign a tenancy agreement to secure the property. It’s a legal document which outlines your obligations, so it’s worth knowing what’s involved before signing away.
Agreements need to be in writing, and the tenant needs to be given a copy before the tenancy begins. However, the Residential Tenancies Act applies even if a tenancy agreement isn’t in writing, meaning tenants and landlords still have obligations to meet.
What’s a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a contract between landlord and tenant. It records the key things a landlord and tenant have agreed to about the tenancy. An agreement can be either periodic or fixed-term:
A periodic tenancy agreement has no end date, meaning it applies until either the tenant or landlord gives written notice to end it.
A fixed-term tenancy agreement has a set amount of time, as specified in the agreement. You are obligated to pay the rent for the whole period of the tenancy and can’t give notice to end the agreement early.
Every tenancy agreement must include the following information:
- Full names and contact details of landlord and tenant
- Address of property being rented
- Date agreement is signed and date tenancy to begin
- Addresses for service for landlord and tenant
- Whether a tenant is under 18 years old
- Amount of bond
- Amount of rent and frequency of payments
- Bank account number where rent to be paid
- Any fees to be paid, if relevant
- A list of any chattels (eg. Furniture and appliances) provided by landlord
- Date tenancy will end, if fixed-term
- Information about property’s insulation
Arrangements with flatmates are not part of the Residential Tenancies Act and so not part of the tenancy agreement.
Changes to tenancy agreement
When agreed by both tenant and landlord, changes can be made to an agreement within the tenancy period. The change needs to be recorded in writing, signed by both parties, and should be attached to existing copy of agreement. The document must include:
- What the change is
- When it takes effect
- Landlords and tenants signature and date
Can a landlord increase your rent?
If you have a fixed-term rental, your landlord cannot increase the rent, unless stated otherwise in the rental agreement. Rent increases need to be atleast 6 months apart and the landlord is required to give 60 days notice.
What about letting fees and other charges?
Since December 2018, it is no longer legal to charge tenants a letting fee. It is also unlawful to charge tenants ‘key money’. It is however standard to charge bond and rent in advance, which can very quickly add up! If you’re after finance to help with moving costs, MoveSmart can help.