Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

When can I rent a flat or house?

1    Pre tenancy

1.1    I’m under 18, am I old enough to rent?   

1.2    Applying to rent   

1.3    Do I need to provide a bond?   

2    During tenancy

2.1    Issues with landlord   

2.2    Issues with other tenants   

2.3    Ending your tenancy 

3    Post tenancy

3.1    Blacklisting   

3.2    Retrieving your bond   

3.3    Recovering things you accidentally left behind   

 

1    Pre tenancy

1.1    I’m under 18, am I old enough to rent?

A person may enter into a Residential Tenancy Agreement in order to rent in Tasmania. The agreement may be oral or in writing, although it is strongly recommended that tenants enter into a written agreement which will provide a clear record of your rights and obligations as a tenant. A Residential Tenancy Agreement is a contract that will state the terms of your rental, such as the duration and rent payable.

Age may not be a restriction to renting in Tasmania.  A person under 18 years of age may enter into a contract, so long as it is for their benefit and they understand the nature of the contract.  A lease is likely to be considered ‘for the benefit of’ a minor because it provides a necessary service. Therefore, a person under 18 years of age will be bound by such contracts unless they didn’t understand that the agreement would be binding when they signed it.

A family has a legal responsibility for their children until they are 18 years of age.  Your family has the responsibility of ensuring that you have a safe place to live.  If you leave your home before you turn 18, your family may seek assistance from the police or the Department of Health and Human Services Tasmania to have you return home.  Whether you are likely to be required to move back home will be dependent upon many factors.  You will not be required to return home if it is unsafe for you to do so.

A landlord cannot discriminate against a potential tenant on the basis of age.  A landlord may, however, have a number of reasons for rejecting an application for tenancy.  It may therefore be difficult to prove that you have been discriminated against on the basis of age.  You may lodge a complaint with either Equal Opportunity Tasmania or the Australian Human Rights Commission if you believe you have been discriminated against.

 

1.2    Applying to rent

People under the age of 18 sometimes have difficulty finding a landlord that is willing to rent them their property.  They may be worried that you will damage the property or cannot afford the rent.  Here are some things to include in an application for rent that may help your application:
•    provide copies of identification, such as a driver’s license;
•    provide proof of income, such as payslips from your job or a statement from Centrelink; and
•    provide references (2 is recommended) to show that you are a responsible person. For example, you could ask your current or past employer or a school teacher for a reference.

 

1.3    Do I need to provide a bond?

A landlord may ask you to pay up to 4 weeks rent as a bond upon entering into a lease.  This will provide the landlord with security in case you breach your rental agreement in certain ways, such as by not paying your rent.  You must pay the bond directly to the Rental Deposit Authority, who will hold the money until you or the landlord makes a claim for the bond to be paid.  Usually the tenant gets the bond back at the end of the lease. Your landlord can also ask you to advance a maximum of 1 payment periods rent (to a maximum of 4 weeks rent), which is often called a ‘holding deposit’.

 

2    During tenancy

2.1    Issues with landlord

Responsibilities

(i)    Key things your landlord is responsible for:  make sure the property is reasonably clean, provide quiet enjoyment of the property and make sure the property is in good repair.

(ii)    Key things you’re responsible for:  allow the landlord to enter when they have the right to, not cause a nuisance or disrupt neighbours, not damage the property or allow damage by anyone you allow on your property, keep the property in a reasonably clean condition and not make changes to the property without permission from your landlord.

If either you or your landlord do not do all the things you are responsible for, the other person may be able to terminate the tenancy, request compensation or apply for a Tribunal order to make the person in breach fulfil their responsibilities. Even if your landlord fails to fulfil their responsibilities, you should keep paying rent, otherwise they may terminate your rental agreement.

Rent

(i)    Rent increases:  Landlords can increase your rent if your tenancy agreement allows them to do so or you have no written tenancy agreement but there are certain rules they must follow. If they do not follow the rules, then you do not have to pay the increase. Your landlord:
•    must let you know of any rent increases, 60 days beforehand, in writing and include details of the rent increase and the date of the increase; and
•    cannot increase the rent more than once every 12 months.

You can challenge the rent increase by making a request to the Residential Tenancy Commission (you must make a request within 60 days after the landlord let you know of the increase). However, if the landlord has complied with the rules above, you should pay the increased amount even if you are in the middle of challenging it. If your challenge is successful, your landlord may be made to return your money.

(ii)    Missed rent payments:  Tips on what to do if you’ve missed a rent payments:
•    contact your landlord or real estate agent ASAP and tell them when you will be paying;
•    offer to pay the overdue rent over a period of time (if you can’t afford to pay it all at once);
•    keep written copies of all communication with your landlord or real estate agent as evidence; and
•    contact housing services that may be able to give you financial assistance on 1800 800 588.
If you are late on rent, your landlord may notify you and give you at least 14 days to pay or vacate the property.

 

2.2    Issues with other tenants

Co-tenants

Co-tenancy is when there are two or more tenants who have signed the same lease. If you are co-tenants then you will be Jointly and Severally Liable under that agreement. This means that if you leave before your lease is up but your name remains on the tenancy agreement, then you may still be liable for the rent payments. You should make sure that you let your landlord know in writing if you leave, so your name can be removed from the lease. Your responsibilities as a co-tenant include:
•    all rent (including your co-tenants share if they don’t pay); and
•    damage to the property even if it is not caused by you.

Therefore you can be required to pay for rent and damage to the property and/or be evicted even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

Sub-tenants

Sub-tenancy is when one or more of the tenants are the Head-Tenant and the others are the Sub-Tenant.  Only the head-tenants’ name(s) will be on the lease. The head-tenant is responsible for all the actions of the sub-tenant. The head-tenant becomes the landlord for the sub-tenant and will be responsible for all the things a landlord is responsible for. A tenant cannot sub-let the property without the landlord’s consent. See Consumer Affairs for more details.

 

2.3    Ending your tenancy

You may be able to end your Tenancy Agreement if you are able to come to an agreement with your landlord to end the agreement, if your landlord has breached your agreement, if your landlord has failed to repair damage to the property that was not your fault within 28 days of you telling them, by giving 14 days notice if you have a Periodic Tenancy Agreement where the fixed term has expired or no fixed term has been agreed or by breaching the agreement. If you breach your agreement you may have to pay your landlord compensation to find a new tenant. You can use this form to give your landlord notice that you would like to leave.

You may be able to apply to the Magistrates Court to terminate your Tenancy Agreement if your landlord has or is likely to cause damage or harm to yourself, a neighbour, the property, or a neighbour’s property and where a Family Violence Order is made against a tenant.

 

3    Post tenancy

3.1    Blacklisting

What is a blacklisting?

Blacklisting is a process that involves a tenant being added to a Tenancy Database.  A Tenancy Database may include information about you as a tenant that might make it harder for you to rent a property in the future.
You may be added to the Tenancy Database after your tenancy has ended. Your name will only be added if:
•    before leaving the property, you breached the tenancy agreement for an amount greater than the bond; or
•    the court has ordered your tenancy to end because of something you did wrong.

Your landlord must inform you if they want to put your name on a Tenancy Database and give you at least 14 days to review the information and object to the accuracy, completeness and clarity of the information. A landlord considering your application who comes across your name on a database must also tell you.

What can I do about being blacklisted?

You can request the Tenancy Database listing to be changed or removed.  Write to your landlord using this sample.

If that doesn’t work, you can appeal to Residential Tenancy Commissioner. You can appeal to the Commissioner if the listing is more than 3 years old.  You can also appeal to the Commissioner if you think the listing is unjust, inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date (you have repaid the bond difference or the court’s termination order wasn’t enforced). The Commissioner may then order for the listing to be removed or changed.

 

3.2    Retrieving your bond

How can I get my bond back?

There are two ways you can get your bond back after your tenancy agreement has ended:
•    you can get a refund if both you and your landlord agree on how much you should get back. The amount will be calculated after the final inspection and will take into account anything that you have broken or needs cleaning.  After you both agree, complete and send this form; or
•    if you and your landlord can’t agree on the amount, you can challenge it by sending the above form anyways but without the landlord’s signature. If the landlord disagrees with your claim, you might have to go to a hearing.

My landlord made a claim against my bond

Your landlord can make a claim for any intentional, negligent or irresponsible damage you have caused. They cannot however make a claim for ‘reasonable wear and tear’.

Reasonable wear and tear includes:
•    Paint fading and discolouring over time;
•    Worn carpet due to day to day use;
•    Garden mulch breaking down over time.

Damage that you may be responsible for includes:
•    Cracked window panes or glass arising from careless slamming of the windows;
•    Paint discolouring due to candle smoke;
•    Garden mulch that has been dug up by a pet.

If you think that your landlord is unfairly holding on to all, or part, of your bond, you should fill out and lodge this form.

 

3.3    Recovering things you accidentally left behind

If you accidentally leave items behind, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible to arrange for them to be returned. If you don’t, your landlord can:
•    Dispose of, or donate the goods (if they are of no value);
•    Sell the goods (if they appear to be worth less than $300);
•    Apply to the Magistrate’s Court to sell the goods (if they are worth more than $300).

If any of your items are sold, you are entitled to claim the money (minus any amount you owe your landlord, such as outstanding rent). You have to claim your money within 6 months, or it becomes the property of the Residential Tenancy Commissioner.

 

NCYLC would like to express thanks to the law clerks and volunteers who assisted with the preparation of this material: Cecilia Chang, Callum Maher, Paul Propper, Ashley Wong.

This page was last updated in January 2017.

***************************************************************************************
  Insert text regarding ALL STATES here.
  You can choose to insert either:
     · Content that directly applies to ALL STATES of Australia.
     · A footnote that will be seen below the existing content of each state.
**************************************************************************************
*