22 Jul 13
For first time tenants, the whole system around residential tenancies can seem a bit daunting until they become accustomed to what is standard practice and what is required by legislation. Most people who are renting genuinely want to do the right thing. They are well aware that getting a bad name as a tenant in a rental property will make it hard for them to find alternative accommodation.
There are a few standard questions that most tenants ask at the beginning of a tenancy, so it does no harm to give this general information in the hope that it will be useful to anyone looking to rent in the real estate rental market. One of the first they ask is the method of payment regarding their rent. This can vary from one agency to another but generally, most agencies allow tenants to pay by electronic transfer to the agency Trust Account, by bank cheque or by money order. Personal cheques are usually not accepted, nor are credit card payments.
Understanding Tenants' Rights Regarding Inspections
The frequency of inspections is another area where tenants often ask about their rights. Generally an agency will do an inspection 3 months after a new tenant has moved in, then every 4 to 6 months thereafter or as agreed on the tenancy agreement. The agent gives the tenant 7 days written notice of an inspection and the option to be present, or to give the agent permission to use the master key. This may suit the tenants if they are at work and unable to get to the inspection at a convenient time.
Tenants can become apprehensive when something needs repair, thinking they may be held responsible. They should be assured that if it is normal maintenance, they will not be required to pay for it. They should notify the agency immediately they notice that repairs are needed. Agencies will generally have a form to complete and fax or email to the agency, or they can contact their property manager by phone.
Tenants Pay for Water at Individually Metered Premises
If the property is individually metered, water charges must be paid for by the tenant and this information should be included in the original tenancy agreement. These accounts are issued quarterly and must be paid within 21 days of receipt. They should be paid to the agent as a payment separate from the rent. They should not be paid directly to the utilities authorities.
Other issues that tenants often ask about are insurance, keeping pets, allowing people who are not on the tenancy agreement to occupy the premises, how to handle rental arrears and what to do if they want to vacate the property. If they read their tenancy agreement and any other paperwork given to them by the agency at the start of the tenancy, they should have no problems.