It’s sometimes hard to know what is and isn’t permitted within a rental – can a picture be hung on the wall? If something breaks, who pays to fix it? Does a tenant’s salary need to be disclosed in an application?
Rental laws vary depending on the state and territory, but there are some general rules of thumb a tenant can follow.
And there are some myths and misconceptions that don’t always ring true.
1. An applicant with a higher salary will get the rental
When applying for a rental, property managers will ask for a tenant to disclose their salary.
While this may feel intrusive, it’s a necessary component of an application so that the property manager can ensure a tenant is able to comfortably afford the weekly rent without going into arrears.
The 30% rule will often apply here, so that no more than one-third of a tenant’s salary is being paid towards rent, otherwise the tenant will be under rental stress.
However, this doesn’t mean the applying tenant with the highest salary will be the successful applicant.
Property managers will choose the tenant who is the best fit for the property based on several factors – not simply salary.
2. Tenants can’t hang art in their home
Generally speaking, a tenant needs permission from a landlord to drill holes into walls to hang art.
However, in Victoria, recent rental reforms have allowed tenants to hang art without the need to ask for permission, provided the property is not heritage listed or has exposed brick or concrete walls.
Tenants generally need permission to hang art on the walls of their rental. Picture: realestate.com.au
3. Even if a property is pet friendly, a tenant without a pet will be successful over one with a pet
Tenants with pets can often find pet-friendly abodes hard to come by and, at times, even if the listing encourages pet parents to apply, there’s a belief that a tenant without one will be the winning applicant.
However, this isn’t necessarily true.
For the best chance, pet parents should create a pet profile or cover letter when applying for a rental.
This should include a picture of their furry friend, details about their temperament, and even references from other landlords who have known the pet.
It can also bode well for a tenant if they organise a meet and greet with the landlord before being accepted.
4. Landlords are more likely to pick couples over friends
Ever read a listings that says ‘suited to a professional couple’?
Some landlords prefer these types of tenants, assuming there will be less wear and tear on their property and a more stable income.
However, other landlords prefer a group of friends within their property, especially if the rental has been a share house in the past.
At the end of the day, it depends on the landlord and the type of tenant they’re looking for. This will always vary.
A tenant with the highest salary won’t necessarily get the rental when applying. Picture: realestate.com.au/rent
5. If something breaks, the tenant has to fix it
There’s nothing worse than having to fork out extra money on top of rent when something breaks, but tenants don’t always need to be the ones to pay for damages in their rental.
In many cases, the landlord is liable for those expenses.
If something is broken by the tenant – for example, they block the sink with food scraps, smash a window, or put a hole in the wall, they will need to pay for those repairs.
However, landlords account for general wear and tear, which can include cracks in the wall, scuff marks on floorboards, and issues with the locks on the doors.
If repairs need to be made due to extreme weather, landlords will also pay to have these things fixed.
Tenants are encouraged to look over the conditions report when signing the lease to ensure damages are logged.
6. Tenants need to hire a professional cleaner to get bond back
Even when a tenant feels they have done the cleaning to the highest standard at the end of their lease, the property manager may still find it’s not up to scratch and take some money from the bond.
The standard of cleaning has to be that the tenant leaves the rental to the same cleanliness as they entered it.
However, this doesn’t mean a professional needs to be hired. A tenant is permitted to do the cleaning themselves.
7. Property managers can enter a rental whenever they like
While the property manager and landlord will most likely have keys to the property, they are not allowed to enter the property while tenanted unless they have permission to do so by the tenant.
The number of times a routine inspection can occur depends on the state the rental is located within. For example, in New South Wales it’s four times a year, but in Victoria it’s once every six months.
Property managers and landlords need to liase with the tenants to ensure a time works for all parties.
Tenants are permitted to be present, or if they feel comfortable to do so, they can give permission for the property manager or landlord to enter the property when they aren’t home.
Property managers and tenants need to liaise when organising a rental inspection time. Picture: realestate.com.au/rent
8. Everyone who lives in a rental has to be on the lease
It’s encouraged for every tenant to be signed to the lease, however renters who are on the lease are able to get sub-tenants into rooms unless otherwise stated in their rental agreement.
If a tenant does choose to have a room sub-tenanted, they will be held responsible for damages and paying rent on time.
It’s suggested a contract is signed between a primary tenant and a sub-tenant.
9. Tenants will be evicted if they dont pay rent on time
Paying rent on time is very important and if a tenant goes into arrears, it’s a serious consideration to evict the tenant.
However, throughout COVID-19, many tenants found themselves without work and unable to pay rent on time.
In these instances, and for any other extenuating circumstances like it, it’s best to be honest and upfront with the property manager or landlord and let them know your situation.
The majority of people are reasonable and understanding, and arrangements can often be made.
10. Sucking up to the property manager at the inspection helps
Ever see tenants walking through the door of an open for inspection and making a beeline for the property manager making a point to introduce themselves?
Property managers can often receive hundreds of applications for a rental, so standing out in a crowd is a good thing.
There’s no need to suck up to the property manager, but introducing yourself, explaining what you like about the property, showing you understand what the landlord is seeking in a tenant, and emphasising that you will be applying shows them you’re serious and will be a respectful tenant to deal with.