What does the law say about your rights and obligations as a tenant or landlord? Both landlord and tenant have certain rights and obligations when they enter into a tenancy agreement. Some of the main ones are listed below
A landlord must:
- Sign a tenancy agreement with their tenant and give the tenant a copy before the tenancy starts.
- Send any bond money paid by the tenant to the Tenancy Services Centre, within 23 working days of receiving it.
- Make sure the property is reasonably clean and in a fit and habitable condition at the beginning of the tenancy.
- Maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair during the tenancy.
- Do any necessary repairs and give the tenant 24 hours’ written notice of entry to repair.
- Reimburse the tenant for any tradesman's invoice incurred for carrying out any urgent repair work (as long as the tenant made reasonable attempts to notify the landlord before having the work done).
- Pay all outgoings (rates, insurance premiums for insuring the premises, land tax etc).
- Provide and maintain locks to ensure the property is reasonably secure.
- Provide the tenant with a receipt if rent is paid by cash or cheque.
- Give the tenant a written statement saying what period rent paid relates to, if asked.
- Give the tenant at least 60 days’ written notice of a rent increase.
- Give the tenant 48 hours’ written notice of an inspection.
- Advise the tenant in writing if the property is to be sold and, if the property is not a fixed term, provide the tenants with 42 days notice when sold.
A landlord must not:
- Ask for more than four weeks’ bond.
- Ask for more than two weeks’ rent in advance, or ask for more rent to be paid before the rent already paid has run out.
- Enter the property except as permitted by law or with the tenant's consent.
- Inspect the property more than once in four weeks, except to check on work done by the tenant.
- Harass the tenant or interfere with their reasonable peace, comfort and privacy, or allow others to do so.
- Interfere with the gas, water, electricity supply or telephone.
- Change the locks without the tenant's consent.
- Seize or dispose of tenant's goods without a Tribunal Order.
A landlord may:
- Limit how many people are allowed to live in the house or flat.
- Discriminate against smokers and pets.
- Prohibit subletting or assigning (transferring) of the tenancy to anyone else. (This does not prohibit the tenant from having flatmates or boarders.)
A tenant must:
- Pay all charges for electricity, gas (supplied to the property), metered water (if provided for in the Tenancy Agreement) and telephone.
- Keep the property, including grounds, reasonably clean and tidy.
- Tell the landlord as soon as possible of any damage or repairs needed.
- Repair or pay for repair of any damage caused intentionally or carelessly by the tenant or the tenant's guests.
- Make sure that any limit set (in the Tenancy Agreement) on the number of people allowed to stay in the property at any one time is adhered to. (Note: This does not apply to short term stays by relatives or friends.)
- Make sure the property is used mainly for residential purposes.
- Allow the landlord reasonable access to show prospective tenants, buyers or valuers through the property.
- At the end of the tenancy, remove all goods and rubbish, leave the property reasonably clean and tidy, return all keys, pass cards or other such devices and leave all other chattels belonging to the landlord at the property.
A tenant must not:
- Unreasonably refuse the landlord entry when they are entitled to access.
- Intentionally or carelessly damage the property or permit anyone else to do so. (The tenant is not responsible for damage by a trespasser, as long as they took all reasonable steps to prevent it.)
- Use or permit the property to be used for any unlawful purpose.
- Change the locks without the landlord's permission.
- Interfere with the peace, comfort or privacy of other tenants or neighbours, or permit anyone else at the property to do so.
- Attach any fixture to the property or renovate, alter, or add to the building, except as the Tenancy Agreement allows, or with the landlord's written permission.
- Sublet or assign (transfer) the tenancy to someone else without the landlord's permission.