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by Claire Noone

You’ve been to all the open for inspections, completed the application forms and been approved for your first rental property – what happens next?

Here are the top three things you need to know before signing your first residential tenancy agreement.

What is a residential tenancy agreement?

A residential tenancy agreement is a legal contract between you, as a tenant, and your landlord. It is also commonly called a lease or rent agreement.

A residential tenancy agreement outlines:

- the amount of rent and how it is to be paid

- the length and type of tenancy

- the amount of bond required

- other conditions and rules.

What is a bond?

A bond acts as security for the landlord or owner in case you don’t meet the terms of your lease agreement. Your landlord or owner may claim some or all of the bond for cleaning, repairs, or replacement of missing items at the end of your agreement. The bond and rent are separate payments. You cannot use any part of the bond as rent – so, when you are moving out, you cannot ask the landlord to keep your bond as final rent payment.

What is a condition report?

When you pay a bond, the landlord or owner must prepare a condition report, noting the general condition of the property, including fittings and fixtures. You should check that the report covers any existing damage or other issues with the property. Take photos before you move in to help record its original condition. The condition report is important because it can be used as evidence if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage or replacement of missing items at the end of the agreement. You and the landlord should agree on the contents of the condition report before signing it.

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