If you think the rules and regulations around tenant rights can be somewhat confusing, try moving interstate.
While many laws are the same or similar no matter which state you’re in, there are many that differ. Which is why it pays to learn more about your state’s specific rules and regulations regardless of whether you’re renting privately or through a property manager.
Here are four of the major differences between states.
When your landlord wants you to move out
The states definitely don’t see tenancy laws in the same way – here’s our state-by-state guide on what you need to know
The Australian Capital Territory
In the Australian Capital Territory, a landlord cannot evict you during a fixed-term agreement, unless you have breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. However, if the agreement is periodic, the landlord can evict you on as little as four weeks notice if they have cause, or on 26 weeks notice if they don’t.
In Queensland, a landlord must give you at least two months notice to end a tenancy early, if you’re on a periodic lease. If you’re on a fixed-term agreement, the landlord can’t evict you unless you’ve breached the agreement, or both parties mutually agree to end the lease early.
New South Wales
New South Wales landlords can’t end a fixed-term agreement before the end of the agreement unless they have specific grounds for doing so (i.e. you’ve breached the agreement).
If they wish to give you notice at the end of the fixed agreement, it must be at least 30 days in advance. However, if the fixed term has ended and your lease is periodic, your landlord must give you 90 days notice. If you breach your agreement at any time, your landlord only needs to give you 14 days notice.
Like most states, Victorian renters can’t be asked to vacate a rental property before the end of a fixed-term lease, unless they’ve broken the terms of that lease. Once the fixed term has ended and the lease is on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must give you at least 60 days notice and must provide a reason for the notice (for example that they plan to sell the property or have their own family move in). If they cannot provide a reason, the notice must be 120 days.
In South Australia, a tenant must receive at least 28 days notice if they’re being asked to leave at the end of a fixed-term lease, or at least 60 days notice if they plan to sell, demolish or occupy the house during a periodic lease or after the fixed-term lease has expired. If they cannot offer a reason, the notice period must be at least 90 days.
Western Australian landlords must provide tenants a minimum of 30 days notice at the end of of a fixed-term tenancy, or during a periodic tenancy if the property is to be sold, and 60 days if the landlord wishes to end the tenancy without a reason.
In Tasmania, once the fixed-term agreement ends, the landlord must give the tenant at least 42 days notice to move out, if the property is to be sold, transferred to another person, significantly renovated, used for a purpose other than a rental property, or if a member of the landlord’s family is going to move in. Landlords must also give 42 days notice if they don’t want to renew the lease when it nears its end date; in this scenario. If there is “substantial nuisance at the premises”, a landlord can evict a tenant on 14 days notice, or immediately if they go through the courts.
Landlords in the Northern Territory must give at least 14 days notice if they want to end your tenancy once your fixed-term agreement finishes, or if that period has ended and the lease is now ongoing, they must provide tenants with at least 42 days notice.
If you want to keep pets
Rights around pets are among the most sensitive and discussed of all tenant rights, but the good news is that, in some states, it’s getting easier to bring Ralph or Whiskers with you when you move house.
In the Australian Capital Territory, the State government passed laws in February that give all renters the right to own a pet. Under these news laws, a landlord would need to demonstrate reasonable grounds to refuse a request for a pet.
In Victoria, it will soon be a lot easier to own a pet in a rental property. The Victorian Government passed sweeping new reforms to the state’s Residential Tenancies Act in September 2018, and pet ownership was touched upon. As it currently stands, the Residential Tenancies Act doesn’t preclude pets, but allows landlords to include “no pet” clauses in the lease. Under the new laws, which will likely come into effect in July 2020, landlords will no longer be able to include these clauses in the tenancy agreement.
In New South Wales, there’s nothing in the state’s Residential Tenancies Act that says you can’t have a pet, but landlords can insert their own pet-preventing clauses into leasing agreements, and NSW Fair Trading recommends seeking permission from your landlord before letting your furry friends move in.
Queenslanders have it tough – they must get written approval to have a pet in a rental property. And the state’s Residential Tenancies Authority estimates only about 10% of landlords currently allow pets in their property. However, that’s all likely to change very soon, as the state government is expected this year to introduce reforms to its tenancy act that would allow all renters to keep a pet.
In Western Australia, you can only keep pets if you’ve got your landlord’s permission and the pet is included in the lease. WA is also the only state that allows landlords to charge renters a “pet bond” – of up to $260 – to cover cleaning and fumigating when you vacate, if required.
In the Northern Territory, there is no specific legislation relating to pets and tenancies, and it is up to the landlord as to whether they’ll allow you to keep one. They may have a ‘no pet clause’ in the lease agreement, in which case you’ll need to negotiate with them, but pet bonds are illegal.
Tasmania and South Australia
And in Tasmania and South Australia, you’re only permitted to have a pet if you’ve got your landlord’s consent.
When it comes to the landlord’s right to access their rental properties it depends, again, on where you live.
In the Australian Capital Territory, landlords must provide at least seven days notice for routine inspections, and can conduct four inspections per year – one at the beginning of the lease, one at the end, and two during the tenancy. The landlords must conduct the inspections at a “reasonable” time; they cannot conduct inspections on Sundays or public holidays, and must conduct them between 8am and 6pm, unless they get your consent to conduct them outside these hours.
New South Wales
Landlords in New South Wales must give you at least seven days written notice for routine inspections, and can conduct as many as four inspections in any 12-month period.
In Victoria, a landlord only needs to give their tenants 24 hours written notice before inspecting the property, but inspections can only occur every six months, and not within the first three months of the tenancy.
In Tasmania it’s also only a 24-hour requirement, however, inspections can only be made once every three months.
Queensland landlords must give you at least seven days notice for a routine inspection, and may conduct only one inspection every three months.
In South Australia, the landlord is allowed to inspect the property once every four weeks, but they must provide between seven and 14 days written notice.
It’s a similar time period in Western Australia: seven to 14 days notice, but not more than four inspections per year.
In the Northern Territory, at least seven days notice must be given and inspections can only take place once every three months. The tenant must be present during any inspections unless they’ve given the landlord/agent the all-clear to enter the property without them.
Emergency landlord access
Victoria is the only state that requires landlords to give notice (24 hours) and gain consent in order to enter a rental property in an emergency.
In other states, landlords can enter the premises at any time there is a genuine emergency, as well as when: there are urgent repairs required; the landlord has serious concerns for the welfare of a tenant and has made attempts to gain consent, or the landlord believes the property has been abandoned.
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