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10 common questions from renters

July 10, 2019

Whether you are renting on your own or with friends, moving into a new rental property can be an exciting time for many people. It might be the first time you’ve lived away from home and you can’t wait to enjoy your well-earned independence. Or you might be an old hand at the rental game and you’re looking forward to living in a bigger property in a better location.

No matter what your situation is, you’re bound to have questions. To make things a little easier for you to find the answers you’re looking for, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions we are asked by renters.

1. What fees do I pay?

In the ACT, to take possession of a rental property, you need to agree to pay rent and bond. The amount of rent you are required to pay will vary from property to property, but your obligations will be clearly defined in your lease.

If you breach your tenancy agreement and it causes the property owner to incur a loss, you might have to pay compensation.

There are also a number of other costs involved which are covered in more detail in Question 3.

2. How much is the bond?

In the ACT your bond is equivalent to 4 weeks of rent and you need to pay it when you sign your tenancy agreement. The bond isn’t given to your property manager or the property owner. It’s lodged with the Office of Rental Bonds who will hold onto it until you move out of the property.

3. Who pays the gas, electricity and water bills?

The property owner is responsible for the costs of the physical installation of utility services. They also cover the annual supply charge for water and sewerage. The property owner is also responsible for all rates and taxes related to the property.

When you move into the property, you will need to get the gas and electricity (and water if the property is separately metered) connected in your name and you will pay for any connection fees. You are required to pay for the consumption of utility services, unless it stipulates otherwise in your tenancy agreement.

4. Can I use any internet service provider?

The short answer is yes. Your landlord or property manager doesn’t get a say in which service provider you use. That choice is completely up to you. However, not all internet providers are able to service every location or residential development. Your best option is to contact your preferred provider to check if they’ll be able to service your new address.

5. How do I setup PayTV?

Again, it’s best to contact the PayTV service provider first to see if they are able to supply the service to your new address. If you need to get a satellite dish installed, you will need to get approval from the property owner as well as the body corporate if you are living a strata complex.

If you want to sign up for Netflix, Stan, Presto or any other streaming service it’s a lot easier. You just need to make sure your internet connection can support the download speeds required.

6. Am I allowed to have pets?

There’s no hard and fast answer here. Pets are considered on a case by case basis. It’s important that you ask permission before buying a new pet, or before signing a lease if you already own a pet. Some property owners might be happy for your pet to live on their property, others might not.

If you are living in an apartment, you will also need to ask permission to have a pet from the body corporate.

7. Are the pool and gym facilities free for residents?

Any facilities on the property are free for residents and their guests to use. However, most strata complexes will have house rules that stipulate when and how their facilities can be used. It’s important that you abide by these rules so you don’t disturb any of the other residents.

The only time you might not have access to all the facilities is when your apartment is within (or shares facilities with) a hotel. In those instances there might be some restrictions. Make sure you ask your property manager about the rules regarding those facilities.

8. We have 2 cars, but only 1 car park. Can we park in the visitor’s spaces?

As a general rule those spaces are intended for visitors only. If you park in them, it can make it difficult for other residents when they invite guests over. That means you should stick to parking in the spaces allocated to the apartment you are renting. The best way to avoid this situation is to make sure the property has everything you need before you sign the lease.

9. What happens when my lease expires?

Information on the expiry date will be detailed in your tenancy agreement. After this date, if you don’t sign another lease or renew your agreement, you enter what is known as a periodic tenancy, which still follows the same terms of the original lease. The periodic tenancy will continue until you sign a new lease or decide to move out. However, you will still need to give at least 3 weeks’ notice to the owner or property manager before you move out.

10. What if I need to leave the property before my lease expires?

People’s circumstances change and this can sometimes happen. But it’s important for you to know that if you need to break your lease early, you will be responsible for all reasonable expenses incurred by the property owner when finding an acceptable new tenant. This means you will likely have to keep paying rent until a new tenant is approved and signs their own lease.

It’s really important that you don’t leave the property without notifying your property manager, or the owner. If you do, chances are you will forfeit your bond, and you’ll get a bad mark against your rental history, which can make it difficult for you to find a new rental home.

If you have more questions about renting in the ACT, get in touch with our property management team.