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Tenant Rights and Obligations in NSW

Tenancy of a residential property carries with it a number of rights with respect to the landlord, but it also imposes a number of obligations on the tenant.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 sets out both landlord and tenant rights and obligations in NSW (New South Wales).

Rights and obligations of tenants in residential properties in New South Wales

Starting a tenancy

When leasing a property the landlord must give to the tenant:

  • a Tenancy Agreement
  • an Information Statement
  • a Bond lodgement form
  • an Entry Condition Report.

It is important that the tenant read through all of these documents, particularly the tenancy agreement, prior to signing. Ensure any special agreements have been noted in writing, and the tenancy agreement is correct.

The tenant should complete the entry condition report and return it to the property manager or landlord within 7 days. It is also recommended to take photos of any damage and include a copy with the condition report.

Bond

Tenant rights and obligations in respect of the payment of bond are generally quite straightforward. Prior to moving into the property the tenant will most likely have to pay to the landlord a bond deposit to be held until the tenancy has ended. The maximum amount of bond the landlord can charge is 4 weeks rent.

The landlord must lodge the bond with Fair Trading NSW. Once it has been lodged, you will receive a lodgment notice confirming they have received the bond. If you do not receive a lodgment notice, you can contact Fair Trading NSW to confirm they received your bond from the landlord.

Privacy

A tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of the property they have leased. In simple terms, quiet enjoyment means that they must be allowed their privacy and the use of the property with little interruption from the landlord.

The landlord and property manager must follow the notice period requirements when completing inspections or visiting the property.

Repairs

The legislation relating to tenant rights and obligations in NSW sets out which party is responsible for undertaking repairs on the property.

As the property owner, the landlord has an obligation to organise any major repairs to the property and to pay for the repairs. However, if the tenant causes the damage they will be required to cover the cost of the repairs.

The tenant is required to keep the property clean and maintained during the tenancy. ‘Maintained’ includes tasks such as cleaning ovens, mowing the lawn, and tending to small gardens.

Tenant rights and obligations in NSW for payment of rent

Rent will be payable weekly, fortnightly, or monthly depending on what was agreed at the start of tenancy. It is important to make sure the rent is paid on time as the landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement if the rent is more than 14 days late.

Generally, if the tenant is late with the rent but pays whatever is still owing or agrees with the landlord on a repayment plan they will be able to stay in the property, even if the landlord has served them with a termination notice.

However, the landlord may apply to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have the tenancy agreement terminated where the tenant is frequently late with the rent payments or has defaulted on the repayment plan.

The tenant should be mindful transfers via internet banking can take several days to arrive in the landlord’s account, so they should allow enough time when using internet transfer methods to ensure that payment is received on or before the due date.

Pests

The landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is pest free prior to the tenant moving in. It is then the responsibility of the tenant to keep the property pest free for the remainder of the tenancy.

However, if termites, possums, or birds are discovered in the property at any stage, the landlord is responsible for their removal and for closing off any access points. If the landlord has left piles of rubbish around the property, they will also be responsible for the removal of any snakes.

Ending a tenancy

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 sets out tenant rights and obligations in NSW in relation to ending a tenancy.

At the end of the tenancy the tenant will be required to move out all belongings, clean the property, and repair any damage caused.

An exit report will be completed by the landlord or property manager and used to assess the condition of the property. It is recommended the tenant is present when the final inspection is done, so any issues can be addressed on the spot.

If the property has been left damaged or unclean compared to the state of the property at the start of the tenancy, the landlord may deduct money from the bond to cover repairs or cleaning costs.

If the tenant does not agree with the deductions, they should not sign the refund of bond form. The tenant can lodge their own refund of bond form without the landlord’s signature and the landlord will then have 14 days to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) contesting the release of the bond.

This article reflects the state of the law as at 1 March 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.

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