Your rights as a tenant when renting in New South Wales.
For many people, moving to Australia is the ultimate dream. Those migrating from overseas will want to make finding a place to live their top priority. Due to the high cost of living in Sydney, many will defer to renting until they are more established in the country.
Your rights as a renter in NSW can be confusing, and expats are particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of. We've done the research and outlined some of the unknown rights tenants have.
Be sure to keep reading until the end of the article because we offer bonus advice as well as some useful resources.
Without further adieu here are five tenancy rights that might surprise you:
1. No Fees on Rent Payments
Many property agents use a merchant facility to allow tenants to pay rent conveniently. Some of the larger facilitators of this are Macquarie Bank's DEFT system and RentPay.
What many real estate agents won't tell you is that there are fees for paying your rent through these systems. While this isn't against the law per se, an agent MUST give you an option to pay rent without. The most common fee free ways of paying rent in NSW are BPAY or direct bank deposit.
If your agent does not provide a fee free option, it's within your rights to demand it, even if that means manually sending money from your bank account each week.
2. Having Issues Fixed In a Timely Manner Is a Right, Not a Privilege
Repairs are classified as either urgent or nonurgent. Urgent repairs would include such things as a burst pipe while a non-urgent repair could be something like a broken dishwasher (urgent for some!).
It is your right to have urgent repairs fixed in a timely manner. If the landlord does not take action quickly, you may get the repairs done yourself up to a value of $1000 and then demand a reimbursement through the official channels.
Non-urgent repairs are a little trickier, and there are many cases where the landlord simply will not want to cooperate. In these situations, the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease' philosophy is your best approach. Keep complaining and demanding until the issue is resolved to your satisfaction.
You can learn more about getting repairs done at the official FairTrading website.
3. There Is No Legal Requirement To Clean Your Carpets When You Vacate
Many landlords will claim that you must have the carpets professionally cleaned when you vacate, but this is not the case or even legal). In fact, this tactic is so often used that a Fair Trading NSW Facebook post about this topic went viral. The only time they can enforce this is if you've been given permission to have a pet in the dwelling.
However, ‘dirty' carpets is a trick agents often use to hold back your rental bond. The cost of a carpet clean is usually quite cheap and may save you much more than the cost in the bond return. There are several websites online that offer free quotes. HiPages (quote site), Carpet Cleaning Sydney (private company) and Airtasker (freelance) are just a few.
If you decide to get your carpets cleaned professionally, be sure to keep your receipt or invoice. That way, if you're accused of not cleaning adequately, you'll have proof if the case goes to a government tribunal.
4. The Final Inspection Must Be Performed By The Agent And They Only Get One
The most anxiety inducing part of leaving a rental property is the dreaded final inspection. You've tidied the place and ensured the oven, carpet, and shower are spotless. All that's left to do now is wait to see if you'll get your full bond back.
The property manager MUST be the one to complete the inspection on the landlord's behalf. If the owner of the property inspects the premises before the agent you are entitled to 100% of your bond no questions asked.
Also, there is only one final inspection allowed. That means if the agent has given the all clear, but the owner is not happy after doing their own inspection, it doesn't matter. You are in the clear and entitled to a 100% return of your deposit.
5. You Can Get Your Bond Back With Or Without The Landlord's Consent
Waiting on your bond is probably the greatest annoyance you can have when vacating the premises. Many landlords and real estate agents will drag their feet and take the maximum amount of time. The reason is often pure laziness on the agent's behalf.
There is hope though! If you have done everything right, your final inspection has been completed, and there are no nasty surprises, you can request to have your bond released directly to the NSW Rental Bond Board. They will contact the landlord, and if they don't dispute it, you will receive 100% of your bond back quite quickly.
When you first move into your property, you'll be given a condition report. It outlines any existing damage or problems with the dwelling. Go through this report with a fine tooth comb. Ensure everything is accurate and described perfectly. If there is any existing damage take photos and email them directly to the agent. If you do this, you'll have proof of the level of damage in case they try to swindle you.
Knowing your rights when renting in Sydney is important. There are government regulations in place to protect both the tenant and landlord. But that isn't an excuse for ignorance and education is often the best way to avoid problems. Check out some of the resources below to learn more about your rights as a tenant:
Tenants NSW – Information, Advice and Advocacy
Fair Trading NSW – Renting a Home
Tenants Rights Manual at the State Library of NSW
NSW Rental Bond Board
We sincerely hope the above tips provide you with some valuable insight. Problems can arise all the time between the landlord/renter relationship, and our advice will help you navigate the muddy waters of tenancy rights in NSW.
Do you have a current problem with your landlord or property agent? Perhaps you have a nightmare story to share that might help others in the same situation. Let us know in the comments.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What Are You Taking to Sydney When You Move? Do You Know Yet?
The truth is you don’t need to know right now, for sure, what’s going with you.
But you do have to get a shipping quote ASAP, especially now.
Why? Because international moving companies need to schedule your move to Australia far in advance, some ask for 6 months in advance. Yes, COVID has changed everything, including international shipping.
When filling out the form below…
- You don’t need a street address for where you’re moving to, only the city and country. What they really want to know is the main shipping port.
- Moving date is an estimate. You don’t need exact dates right now. Go with your best guess.
- Estimate volume is an estimate. Don’t bother with calculating your volume. Use one of the estimates below for your estimated volume.
- Studio or 1 Bedroom —> 20 m3
- 2 Bedroom —> 25 m3
- 3 Bedroom —> 30 m3
- 4 Bedroom or 3 Bedroom + Car —> 50 m3
- Use your “real” contact details for BOTH phone and email. Yes, the form is secure. If you don’t use your real contact details, then they can’t get in touch with you for your quote. Makes sense, right?