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Tenant responsibilities 101

March 21, 2019

Bob lives in a beautiful rental property in Canberra’s north. He has been in the property for just over 7 months and has never had an issue. Recently, Bob spotted a small mouse running along his kitchen bench. Shocked and a little disgusted, Bob jumped up on a chair and asked himself, “Who is supposed to handle this situation?”

Just like Bob, there are many tenants who are still confused about their tenancy responsibilities, especially tenants who are new to the ACT or first-time renters who don’t know what to expect. Most of these responsibilities are common across the board; however, sometimes there are additional tasks due to the type of property or tenancy agreement terms. For example, if the house has a precious hedge that the owner adores, it may be in your rental agreement that you look after it. Or if the house has a pool, you will need to ensure it doesn’t turn green.

A tenant who doesn’t meet their responsibilities risks breaching their tenancy agreement; this can result in being issued a notice to remedy or in serious cases, eviction.

On the other hand, if you look after your rental properly, it shows the owner that you care about their property and helps create a respectful relationship between you both. It will also reflect well on your rental history, so the next time you apply for a rental property, your property manager will clearly see that you adhered to your responsibilities as a tenant.

Independent Property Management's Courtneyann Sarcevic, describes the most common responsibilities that you may not be aware of.

Replacement of consumables

If you have been walking around in darkness because a light bulb has blown or have been enduring the constant beeping of the NBN box because it needs a new battery, listen up.

“As you will be using these items every day during your tenancy, it is your responsibility to replace them.” Courtneyann said.

In some situations, light bulbs that are not standard may need to be replaced by the landlord but it’s important to check with your property manager to be sure—no one wants to be stuck in darkness.

“If you’re not sure which light globes to get, it’s always a good idea to take the non-working globe with you to buy the new one so you can ensure you get the right one,” says Courtneyann.

Pest control

Pest control has been a common confusion between landlords and tenants. In the case of Bob, it is his responsibility to organise and pay for standard pest control. If there does happen to be an infestation in the home, it is then the owner’s responsibility to rectify it.

So now that we’re coming into the warmer months, it’ll be your job to get rid of those pesky creepy crawlies.

If you are a pet owner, another tenant task that is required is to organise flea treatment. “Most agencies will request that you have flea treatment done when leaving the property. Make sure you check this on your tenancy agreement, so you can ensure you get the right treatment done prior to your final inspection,” recommends Courtneyann. 

Garden maintenance

Living in a property with a beautiful garden can be a treat, especially during the beautiful springs Canberra is renowned for. Just like other areas of the home, it’s important that tenants maintain the standard of the gardens and grounds throughout their stay.

The tenancy agreement will state that the tenant is responsible for the general maintenance of the garden including mowing, watering, weeding and pruning.

“Tenant’s are also expected to not chop down any trees, bushes or plant any additional flowers without first seeking approval from your property manager or owner,” says Courtneyann.

For those tenants whose green thumbs are not as vibrant, help can be arranged. “You can always ask your property manager for a gardener’s details to assist you.”


Canberra is well known for its cold winters and with cooling temperatures comes condensation. Have you ever noticed liquid droplets on windows, walls and behind furniture? That’s condensation. It’s a natural phenomenon caused by the moisture and heat inside a property meeting the cold air on the outside of windows or glass doors. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold air, meaning that when it’s rapidly cooled by contact with a cold surface, the vapour becomes water droplets or condensation.

“If it’s not managed correctly, the excess water can lead to mould growth, damp patches and damage to the property,” Courtneyann explains.

So how do we avoid this? Open windows to let a flow of fresh air circulate the home. Your property manager will also provide you with helpful tips and information on how to manage condensation.

Reporting maintenance

Some maintenance issues may seem more important than others, such as a roof caving in as opposed to a leaking shower. But it in some instances, if you don’t report the issue straight away, it can turn into a bigger issue in future.

“If that leaking shower is not reported, the excess water can damage the surrounding walls and floors which can be an expensive fix. It is then the owner’s responsibility to maintain the property to the same standard as when you first moved in,” says Courtneyann.

“If something breaks down, it’s important to let your property manager or owner know as soon as possible—send a photo of the issue and provide as much information to assist in getting the issue fixed quickly for you.”

Don’t be afraid to chat to your property manager or owner if you aren’t quite sure what you are responsible for or how to fix something. Property managers are there to help you and ensure you are comfortable in your home.