Hospo Voice

What are the rights of a tenant?

April 19, 2021

Some common renting issues and your tenants’ rights

Lots of us in hospo rent our homes, and we’ll probably be doing it for some time to come. We’ve all come to work with horror stories about landlords doing snap inspections and being forced to pay for repairs that we’re pretty sure aren’t our responsibility.

It’s important for us to know what our tenants’ rights are, so we’re not being taken advantage of. So, what are our rights as a tenant? Does it differ from state to state (spoiler alert – yes it does).

Repairs

Ever had to use the work shower because your water tank isn’t fixed? Or take home staff leftovers because you don’t have a working oven?

Getting your landlord to do repairs always seems to be a sticking point. It’s your responsibility to keep a property in a reasonably tidy condition, but it’s your landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property. 

Repairs are split into two types – urgent/emergency repairs and those that are less urgent. Urgent repairs are:

For example, a broken pipe, blocked toilet or broken oven can all be urgent and it’s within your renters’ rights to get them fixed quickly.

When there is an urgent repair needed, let the agent or landlord know in writing. If they haven’t responded, sometimes you can pay for the repair yourself and get reimbursed. But what you’re entitled to and how long you have to wait depends on where you live.  

What non urgent repairs covered will depend on the state of the property when you moved in, how much you pay and the age of the property. 

In some states, mould is a non-urgent repair, although is now an urgent repair thanks to new Victorian laws. If mould has appeared because you didn’t ventilate after a shower, then it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s cleaned. However, if it’s because there was a defective ventilator, then you’re entitled to a fix.

Pets

Having pets in a rental property is another thing that varies from state to state. In some states like ACT, there are new laws that give all renters the right to own a pet. This means a landlord needs to show grounds for refusing a pet. 

At the other end of the scale is Queensland. The state’s Residential Tenancies Authority says that only about 10% of properties allow pets. Considering 39% of Queensland households have a dog and 24% have a cat, rental properties that allow pets are in hot supply. 

Most states don’t have specific legislation around pets, but you need to ask permission before moving in with a pet. Western Australia is the only state that has a ‘pet bond’ of up to $260.

Inspections

How much notice your landlord gives before doing an inspection depends on where you live. In most states, they have to give you written notice and usually it’s at least 7 days before. This differs in Tasmania though, they only have to give you 24 hours’ notice. 

How often landlords can inspect is also different from state to state. Most states don’t allow more than four inspections a year.

Rent increases

When you’ve signed a lease for a fixed term, term, your landlord can’t increase your rent during this period. However, when you’re on a rolling lease, they can make an increase. How often this happens, yet again, depends on the state you live in. 

For example, in most states they can only increase your rent every 6 to 12 months and you need to be given a 60 day notice period of any increase. 

You also have tenants’ rights when it comes to how much the rent increases. If you believe your rent increase is excessive, you can negotiate with your landlord. If you can’t come to an agreement, you can apply to your local Civil and Administrative Tribunal for them to consider. 

When understanding whether your rental increase is excessive, you might compare:

Getting your bond back

You pay a bond at the beginning of your tenancy to cover the landlord in case you don’t follow your tenancy agreement. It’s a lump sum payment that can’t be over 4 weeks of rent and it has to be lodged with a bond authority and you apply to them to get it back.

Victoria has recently introduced new rental laws including how to get your bond back. When you’ve applied to get your bond back from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RBTA), they let your rental provider and agent know of the claim. 

The rental provider then has 14 days to let the RTBA know about any application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Unless the RBTA receive this evidence, they will release the bond back to the renter.

What are the rights of a tenant in my state?

As you’ve probably noticed, the rights of a tenant can vary a lot depending on where you live. 

If you’d like to know more about the renters’ rights in your state, here are the sites for your tenants’ unions. 

Once you’ve navigated your rights at home, it might be time to think about your rights at work. If you’re dealing with some issues in your hospo workplace, we can help. Visit our Mobilise app to find out more about your rights as a hospo worker.

Looking for more info about your rights in hospo?

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