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Rights you may not know you have as a Sydney tenant

clock icon October 26, 2017

Did you know there are more than 200 sections of legislation in the Tenancies Act in NSW? There’s no wonder that very few tenants or landlords know them inside out.

While most landlords do the right thing by their tenants, there are several critical details in tenancy agreements that are worth knowing.

Here are some of the rights you might not know you have as a Sydney tenant:

Steam cleaning the carpet is not always mandatory

Unless they have given you permission to keep a pet, landlords cannot ask you to have the carpet professionally cleaned.

Tenants are required to leave the premises in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy, other than for fair wear and tear.

Tenants are not responsible for fair wear and tear of the property, however, are responsible for any damage caused to the property including stains or marks on walls and floors, including carpet.

Landlords must give consent to reasonable requests to sub-let

If you want to sub-let your rental property or bring in a new co-tenant, while living in it yourself, a landlord must give their consent if your request is reasonable.

The property manager may ask for their details and rental history, but would need grounds to decline the request.

If you want to sub-let the entire property and no longer live there, a landlord may refuse. A landlord may not refuse an additional occupant the tenant wants to have living with them, according to Fair Trading NSW.

The only time this may be refused is if the total occupants are higher than stated as a maximum in your tenancy agreement.

You can get your bond back without the landlord’s consent

Waiting on your bond is probably the greatest annoyance you can have when vacating a property. Many landlords and real estate agents will drag their feet and take the maximum amount of time.

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.

Rental increases – how much and how often?

The good news is that as long as you’re on a lease, provided it’s for a period of less than two years, your rent generally can’t be increased – unless a special provision has been written into your lease.

However, once your lease expires, unless you choose to sign another one you’ll be subject to potential rent increases.

Normally your rent can only be increased once every six to 12 months (depending where you live) – but in NSW there’s unfortunately no limit to how often your rent can be increased.

Tenants are must be given 60 days’ notice of a rent increase.

If something breaks, you don’t always have to pay “replacement” cost

If an item has broken in a rental property, it is not always the case that you have to pay the full replacement cost for that item.

While some property managers will request the full cost, Tribunal will often revise this down to match what is in tenancy law.

NSW Legal Answers recommends considering depreciation laws as well when determining the amount you should pay to replace damaged items.

If a landlord is claiming they had to replace an old damaged item with a brand new one, you may be able to successfully argue to pay a fraction of the cost using the Australian Taxation Office’s depreciation tables.

Bonus Advice

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.

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