Renting Real Estate in the ACT
If you aren't yet ready to move into your first home, or you've bought a place in a rural area but still need to be within easy reach of your Canberra office, renting in the ACT is an excellent choice.
When you rent a property, you'll find that there is far less paperwork than what comes with actually buying one. Even so, there are still several factors that you should know about before signing along the dotted line. Therefore, read our helpful guide to discover how to become a tenant in the ACT.
Where should you look for a rental property in the ACT?
If you're wondering about how much renting a home in the ACT will cost you (on average), take a look at websites as such as domain.com.au, realestate.com.au and ljhoooker.com.au. Also, Australian Property Monitors, CoreLogic RP Data and SQM Research are excellent sources of information when looking at rental costs and vacancy rates across the entire region.
You should decide what you need out of the rental property. Will it be just for you, or do you want to live with other people? What amenities do you need nearby? Will you pick an area close to the city, or a particular school / university? How much can you afford to spend on rent every week?
Here are some criteria to consider:
How much rent can you afford
- What type of property do you prefer - a house, apartment etc
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- Do you need parking?
- Do you want to share with someone else?
- Do you want a garden
- Do you need a space for pets?
- How close do you need to be to public transport and other amenities
Once you've gotten an idea of a budget and location in mind, you should think about getting in touch with a property management service. That's because they can remove the stress and hassle that naturally comes with moving home - something that you could do without. At LJ Hooker, our Property Management team repeatedly list new rental properties all across the ACT, and we'll do everything we can to help you move into the most suitable home possible.
Are inspections important?
They really are. It's vital that you spend an ample amount of time inspecting your potential rental property in the ACT. You need to examine all of the fittings and furnishings, ensuring that everything is in a good and workable condition. Your tenancy agreement will almost certainly state that the property must be left in good condition when your time in is over, largely so that the next tenant can move in with little complaint.
Hence, when you move in, everything should be well - but you must check it anyway. This is so that you won't be blamed for damage that wasn't caused by you, or that occurred before you moved in. Plumbing, heating and cooling and water pressure are the main amenities that you should check, and whiteware and outdoor areas should also be looked at - as well as any signs of mould.
Applying for a rental property in the ACT
How to become a tenant in the ACT
Before you can move into a rental property, you're required to go through the application process. Largely, this will involve providing proof of your earnings, as well as references from previous landlords.
Also, before the tenancy agreement is signed, you must find out who deals with any arising issues. The rules for renting in the ACT can be found in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, and ACT Fair Trading will act as a mediator if a dispute needs resolving. This informative website has a whole host of information on your rights, so it's well worth bookmarking it whilst you're a tenant in the ACT.
The new tenant checklist
Before the tenancy agreement is signed, you'll be given a tenancy checklist from either the landlord or letting agent. You'll also need to ensure that you have the following documents:
- The bond lodgment form,
- Tenancy checklist itself,
- Tenancy agreement,
- Two copies of the report which details the condition of the property, and,
- Outstanding repairs that will be made by the landlord, in writing.
If you're missing any of these documents, don't sign the tenancy agreement yet. This is because an ACT tenancy agreement is legally binding, and usually lasts for six months to a year, minimum. With this in mind, you should see that it makes little sense signing something that could 'trap' you for such a period of time.
The costs of ACT rental property
On becoming a tenant in the ACT, it's important to figure out the financial side of things as a matter of priority. In the ACT, the bond cannot be more than one month's rent, and it is illegal for a landlord to charge you more than four weeks' rent in advance.
What's more, there are several other costs which you are not expected to foot. For example, you can't be charged for keys or a swipe card to enter your home, or indeed any expenses associated with setting up the bond or other paperwork that comes with moving in. If any issues do arise, the ACT government's Information Panel has a raft of information on how to best approach the subject with your landlord or property manager. You could also take a look at the ACT government's Community Service page for more information.
If your rent is to be increased, your landlord or property manager should give you an ample eight weeks' notice, which must be given in writing. This notice must also state just how much the rent will rise by, as well as when the changes come into effect. Finally, the notice itself should be directed specifically to the leaseholder, signed and dated, otherwise it is invalid.
You should also keep in mind that a rent increase cannot happen more than once a year, unless a tribunal states otherwise - happy days!
Here are a few other costs that you could incur when renting in the ACT:
- A fee (refundable) to secure the keys prior to signing the tenancy agreement.
- Key duplication.
- Various set-up fees for you home's utilities.
- Insurance that may be legally required, if recorded in the tenancy agreement.
As soon as that tenancy agreement is signed, whip out the condition report which describes the state of the place in detail. By reading it over and then signing it, you'll have legal proof as to it's condition on the day you move in. This is of great help when claiming back your bond, which explains why close inspection of the property is essential before you move in. Filling out the condition report correctly will further help your cause in getting your bond back. It's also worth mentioning that the report should also state any outstanding repairs that need to be carried out.
There should be two copies of the final report provided - one for the landlord, and one for you. Read it thoroughly, fill it out and return it to your landlord or letting agent within two weeks of issue. As soon as it is signed, the condition report becomes a binding contract. The Access Canberra website explains the condition report in more detail.
Signing the tenancy agreement
In Australia, there are two kinds of tenancy agreement - fixed-term and periodic. Let's take a look at them.
The fixed-term agreement is a contract allowing you to stay in an ACT rental property for a certain, fixed period of time. Usually, this is around six months to a year, but can be longer. With an agreement between the tenant and landlord, a fixed-term agreement can be renewed before it expires.
A periodic agreement often follows on from a fixed-term agreement. It has has no fixed end date, but retains the same rules and regulations as a fixed contract.
Reading the fine print
The tenancy agreement lists your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in the Australian Capital Territory. This will include such things as having your carpets professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy and and any other obligations. The tenancy agreement will outline whether or not you are allowed pets, as well as the consequences of what happens if you get behind on the rent, and a host of other terms.
If no signed tenancy agreement exists, the landlord can evict you or increase the rent without notice - all within the law. Therefore, the agreement offers you a certain level of protection, as well as establishing how your tenancy works. This will also give you a clear view of what your rights and responsibilities are. You should be given a copy of the tenancy agreement as soon as it is signed by all parties involved.
Once your tenancy begins, you must uphold the condition of your ACT property and pay rent as per the tenancy agreement. Should you have any questions whatsoever, be sure to get in touch with your local LJ Hooker Property Management team today.