Paying rent

The tenancy agreement can provide for rent payments on a weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or calendar monthly basis or any other period as agreed by the owner and tenant. The owner must not ask for rent until the period covered by the previous payment is finished. Receipts for rent paid must be issued by the owner within three days.

The receipt must show the name of the person paying the rent, the date received, the amount paid, the premises and rental period covered by the payment. Real estate agents receiving rent payments must give a receipt immediately. A receipt is not required if the rent is paid by agreement directly into an account at a bank or other financial institution, or to Homeswest. The owner must keep a record of the rent paid. The tenant should keep all receipts in case there is a dispute over rent owing.

Ending a tenancy

A tenant may end a periodic tenancy agreement without having to provide a reason, but is required to give a minimum of 21 days notice in writing.  A tenant can give two days’ notice to end a tenancy agreement if the premises are destroyed, are compulsorily acquired by law or become uninhabitable (applies to both periodic and fixed term tenancies).  A tenant can seek an order from the Magistrates Court to end a fixed term agreement if the owner has not kept to any one of the terms and refuses to remedy the problem.

A fixed term agreement may also be ended by written agreement signed by the two parties. Apart from the above situations, a tenant is committed to a fixed term tenancy agreement for the duration of that term, unless termination is mutually agreed in writing with the owner or unless the agreement is assigned by agreement to another tenant.  A tenant who breaks a fixed term agreement without the written agreement of the owner signed by both parties may be liable for rent and maintenance expenses on the property until the owner finds a new tenant or the original tenancy period expires.
The tenant may also be liable for reimbursement to the owner of the cost of the inspection/inventory fee; and for the advertising costs of finding a new tenant. If the property is managed by a real estate agent the tenant may be liable for the unexpired portion of any letting or re-letting fee. A tenant must give the owner a forwarding address at the end of a tenancy.

Overdue rent

A tenancy may be ended if tenants fall behind in paying rent. If a problem arises in making the payments, the tenant should explain the financial situation to the owner and try to arrange to pay the arrears in affordable installments.

If the tenant is behind in rent payments, or presents a bad cheque, owners/agents may follow the procedures described in Service of Notices – How and When to Serve Notices an owner cannot seize a tenant’s belongings in lieu of rent owed. Tenants who reasonably believe they are not behind in the rent can remain in the premises while the matter is sorted out by negotiation, or until the owner applies for an eviction hearing in the Small Disputes Division, where both parties can put their case. A tenant cannot be forced out of a property without a court order ending the agreement.

Bond money

To arrange the return of bond money following the end of a tenancy, the tenant and owner must sign sign a Form 4 (Joint Application For Disposal of Security Bond) and present it to the bond holder.  The bond is then required to be paid within 7 days of receiving the signed form.

If there is a dispute however, the bond money will not be returned until agreement is reached and the above form is signed by both parties, or if one of them obtains a court order from a magistrate.