frequently asked questions
Do you have a question you’ve been meaning to ask? We’ve put together a list of burning questions that tenants often ask at some point in their tenancy. We might have already answered your question for you!
Please keep in mind that these are general questions and, while we’ve aimed to keep the information as accurate as possible, it’s always advisable to seek help regarding your particular situation if you’re still not sure.
Do I have to inspect a property before submitting an application?
A lot of agencies have different processes and approach this situation differently. Some agencies may require you to view the property before submitting an application while others may request that you submit an application before viewing the property.
While a lot of the time you don’t have to inspect a property before applying, it is recommended that you do to be sure that you are only applying for properties that suit you. If you’re not in a position to view the property first, you may be asked to fill out and sign a Request to Sign Tenancy Agreement for an Unseen Property form.
What happens if I can’t pay my rent?
We understand that changes in circumstances can affect your ability to pay the rent. If you are experiencing difficulty at any time in paying your rent, please contact us straight away so that we may discuss your situation and try to help.
Please keep in mind that, while we appreciate your honesty and will try to help as much as possible, we do still have a duty of care to the owner to continue with our strict rent arrears procedure until the rent payments have been caught up.
If I have to arrange after hours repairs myself, will I get reimbursed?
If you’ve arranged and had to pay for after hours repairs for what is classed as an emergency repair, you will be reimbursed. Emergency repairs are classified as:
• a burst water service or a serious water service leak
• a blocked or broken toilet
• a serious roof leak
• a gas leak
• a dangerous electrical fault
• flooding or serious flood damage
• serious storm, fire or impact damage
• a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
• a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on the property for hot water, cooking or heating
• a fault or damage that makes the property unsafe or insecure
• a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant
• a serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area of the property that unduly inconveniences a tenant in gaining access to, or using, the property.
I’ve lost or had my house keys stolen. What should I do?
If you’ve lost the keys to your property or they were stolen, please immediately contact our office to let us know. Arrangements will need to be made to have a locksmith replace all of the locks at the property and you will be liable for the cost.
If you arrange to change any of the locks on the property yourself, we must be given copies of the new keys immediately. Any new keys to the property (including copies you’ve made) will need to be handed in to us at the end of your tenancy.
I've locked my keys inside the property. What should I do?
If you’ve locked your keys inside the property during business hours, you’re welcome to contact our office to arrange to pick up our spare set of keys to get back in. Once you’re back in, you’ll need to arrange to bring our spare set back to our office.
If you’ve locked your keys inside the property outside of normal business hours, please contact our after hours number as we may have someone in the area that is available to bring our spare set to you (please note that this is not guaranteed and should not be relied on). If there is nobody available that can bring the keys to you, you will need to arrange a locksmith to gain entry, at your own expense. On the next business day, you’ll need to notify us and provide us with a replacement spare set of keys.
How much notice do I need to provide if I want to vacate the property?
If you’d like to end your tenancy and vacate the property, the minimum notice period you must provide is 14 days (this applies for both fixed term and periodic tenancies). The notice must be given in writing on a Notice of Intention to Leave (RTA Form 13).
The tenancy ends on the end date of your tenancy agreement or the end date of the notice period (whichever is longer).
Can I hang up some pictures on the walls?
We want you to feel at home in your property and we understand hanging pictures definitely helps with that. Before you get your hammer and picture hooks ready, just make sure to contact us first so we can check that the owner is ok with it.
At the end of your tenancy, rather than patch and paint the holes created by the picture hooks, we recommend leaving the picture hooks where they are for the use of future tenants.
What happened to the two weeks rent in advance I paid when I moved in?
When you move into your property, you are required to pay your first 2 weeks rent. There is a common misconception that this payment is held by the real estate agency as a ‘holding fee’ or a ‘deposit’ and at the end of your tenancy you can ask the agent to use these funds to pay your last 2 weeks rent which is not the case. This payment is your first 2 weeks’ rent payment.
Let’s say you pay your first 2 weeks rent and move into your property on the 15th June. Our agency then receipts this money straight away as rent from the 15th June to the 28th June which appears on your rental ledger. What would normally happen is you would then make your next rent payment on or around the 29th June which is receipted as rent from the 29th June. This continues like this throughout your tenancy. You’ll see from this example that the 2 weeks’ rent has already been used up.
If you want to keep your rent in advance throughout your tenancy and actually be in front with your rent payments at the end of your tenancy, you would need to make your second rent payment on the 15th June (on the day you move in) and continue to make regular payments to keep your rent in advance until the end of your lease.
To avoid confusion, the best way to determine if you are ahead with your rent payments is to ask us for a rental ledger (a full list of every payment we have received from you since the start of your tenancy, including your first 2 weeks rent). If your rental ledger shows you are not 2 weeks ahead, you’ll need to look at all of the payments you’ve made and the corresponding period the payment refers to. If you believe that you have made an extra payment that isn’t showing on your ledger, you’ll need to contact us and provide proof of this payment.
It’s important to remember that a real estate agent is not ‘holding’ any of your money – this is actually illegal!
One of my housemates needs to move out and a friend would like to take his/her place. What do we need to do next?
The first thing you should do is notify us to let us know of this situation so that we can give you the appropriate paperwork and go through the process with you. It may seem like a simple task but changing names on a lease agreement is actually a very involved process and needs to be done properly to ensure minimal issues when it comes time to end your tenancy. It may also incur a fee which will be detailed on your lease agreement.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the process involves:
• Outgoing tenant submits a Notice of Intention to Leave (RTA Form 13)
• Incoming tenant submits a Tenancy Application Form with all supporting documentation
• All documentation is processed by us and the owner is contacted for approval.
• If approval is given, a meeting is normally arranged between the tenants (new and old)
and the property manager to sign all required paperwork.
• The RTA is advised of the change of tenants and adjusts their records against the bond being held for your property. The RTA does not refund part bonds in this situation and any reimbursement will have to be arranged amongst the tenants.
For more information on how Street Ninety Nine manages this process, please click here.
Remember – any people who wish to move into the property must have approval from the owner first prior to moving in. Without prior approval, they will be seen to be living there as unapproved occupants and you would be in breach of your lease agreement.
Who is responsible for maintaining the lawn and gardens at a rental property?
Maintaining the lawn and gardens is generally the tenant’s responsibility, however, it may be written into a lease agreement that the owner takes responsibility for part or all of the exterior maintenance of the property, although this isn’t common.
For properties that are governed by a body corporate, some of the exterior maintenance may fall under their common areas, in which case the body corporate takes care of this for you. It is best to consult with us to determine what your specific situation is with your property and what you are responsible for.
My gutters are full of leaves - who’s responsible to clean them?
Cleaning gutters falls under the owner’s responsibility.
To avoid gutters getting too full and potentially costly gutter replacements, owners are educated on the benefits of having gutters cleaned regularly.
What’s considered to be ‘fair wear and tear’?
The term ‘fair wear and tear’ is used often in the real estate industry and there is usually some confusion around what ‘fair wear and tear’ actually is.
‘Fair wear and tear’ refers to the normal deterioration of a property from ordinary, everyday use. Factors such as exposure to the elements, time and just day-to-day living can cause fair wear and tear.
We’ve included some examples below to show the difference between fair wear and tear and damage:
|fair wear and tear||damage|
|• Faded curtains or frayed cords||• Curtains that are missing or torn by the tenants pet|
|• Furniture indentations and traffic marks on the carpet||• Stains or burn marks on the carpet|
|• Scuffed wooden floors||• Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors|
|• Faded, chipped or cracked paint||• Unapproved or poor-quality paint job|
|• Worn kitchen benchtop||• Burns or cuts in the benchtop|
|• Loose hinges or window/door handles; worn sliding tracks||• Broken panes from one of the tenants children hitting a ball through the window|
|• Cracks in the walls from movement||• Holes in walls from nails or from removing picture hooks or shelves|
|• Water stains on carpet resulting from a leaking roof or bad plumbing||• Water stain on carpet from an overflowing bath or indoor pot plants|
|• Worn paint near lightswitch||• Paint damage from removing decorations stuck on with Blu-Tack or sticky tape.|
Do I have to pay for water?
You may be charged full water consumption costs if:
• The property is individually metered
• The property is water efficient
• The tenancy agreement states that you must pay for water consumption
If you are responsible to pay for water at your property, these bills will be provided to you within a reasonable timeframe (usually quarterly) and you must pay within one month of the bills being provided to you. When paying your water bills, it’s important to specify what payments are intended for water and keep them separate to your rent payments. Please do not pay your water usage direct to the council.
For more information regarding water charging, download the RTA’s water charging fact sheet – here.
Do I need to have the property professionally cleaned when I vacate or can I do the clean myself?
You’re not required to organise and pay for a professional cleaner yourself. When you give your notice, we’ll provide you with a cleaning checklist; keep in mind that a bond clean is a lot more involved than a general tidy up and if the property is not up to the standard it should be at the final inspection, you may be asked to go back and rectify the cleaning.
Having a bond clean done by a professional is worth considering as it saves you a lot of time and stress; a good cleaner will also offer a guarantee to go back and fix anything that’s not up to standard. If need be, we can recommend some good cleaners with reasonable rates.
How will I get my bond back?
Once you’ve vacated the property, your final inspection has been done and any issues have been rectified, we’ll determine whether there are any funds that are still outstanding.
If there aren’t any outstanding monies, we’ll sign off for the full bond to be refunded to you. The RTA will then keep you informed of the progress of your bond refund; they advise that you’ll receive your bond refund within 5 days on average of the RTA receiving the completed form. Refunds are only paid into Australian bank accounts so it’s important to provide the RTA with your correct bank details on the bond refund form.
If there are outstanding monies, such as rent, cleaning, water usage or repairs, and you agree to these expenses, you may choose to either pay these monies directly to our agency or ask to have these expenses deducted from your bond.
Something’s come up and I need to end my lease early (break lease). What do I do from here?
In this situation, you’ll need to contact our office and hand in your Notice of Intention to Leave (RTA Form 13) as soon as you can. This is so that we can do all we can to try to mitigate your loss by contacting the owner for their instructions and advertising your property to try to find new tenants asap.
It’s likely you’ll also be liable to compensate the owner for their losses which include:
• Paying your rent until the day before new tenants move in or until the expiry date of your lease (whichever happens first). This still applies even if you’ve already vacated and are no longer living at the property.
• Advertising costs
• A reletting fee
Once a new tenant is found, we’ll get in touch with you to advise you of their start date (to determine what date your rent must be paid to) and to discuss your final inspection, including the bond refund process.
I was hoping to make some changes to the property. Do I need to ask the owner or can I just do them myself?
If you’re hoping to make some improvements or changes to the property yourself, you must obtain permission from the owner first before going ahead.
It is best to contact our office first to let us know of your plans so we can discuss them with you and talk to the owner for approval.
I’ve noticed a lot of ants/spiders/cockroaches around my property. Will the owner organise a pest treatment for me?
It is best to contact our office in this situation or check your lease agreement for any terms regarding pest control.
Any pest problems that arise from uncleanliness (e.g. failure to properly dispose of rubbish) or are caused by the tenant (such as fleas from pets) are usually the responsibility of the tenant. The tenant may request that the owner organise a pest treatment, however, the owner is not obligated to agree in this instance.
If the pest problem is determined to be caused by reasons out of the tenant’s control, pest control would be the owner’s responsibility.