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  • Rent and inspections

    How frequently can the rent be increased?

    Rents cannot be raised more than six monthly.

    With a fixed-term lease, if the owner is going to increase the rent during the term of the lease it must be in the contract as a condition of the lease.

    It can either refer to an increase of a dollar amount, such as $10, or alternatively it can stipulate a method of increase, such as the Consumer Price Index. Only one method per rent review is permitted.

    If a tenant is on a periodic lease, the owner must give a 60 day notice period of the new rental price provided that the rent had not been increased in the previous six months.

    It is advisable for owners to add two or three days on top of the mandated 60 day notice period to allow for postage delivery when using ‘snail’ mail.

    Can a tenant withhold rent?

    No. If the owner does not honour his or her obligations under the lease agreement the tenant is not legally able to withhold rent.

    If a tenant withholds rent, they may be issued with a Notice of Breach of Agreement.

    What happens if the tenant does not pay the agreed rent?

    A basic obligation of a tenant is to pay the rent. If rent is not paid by an agreed date, the tenant is in breach of the lease and the owner or property manager can seek to end the tenancy.

    The tenancy may be ended through two alternatives.

    Firstly, not less than one day after the rent should have been paid, the owner may issue a Breach Notice or Non Payment of Rent Form. This notice requires the tenant to pay all outstanding rent within 14 days.

    If after 14 days the rent remains unpaid, the owner may issue a Notice of Termination for Non Payment of Rent. This notice seeks to terminate the tenancy agreement and requires the tenant to leave the property within seven days.

    Secondly, not less than one day after the rent should have been paid, the owner may issue a Notice of Termination for Non-Payment of Rent. The notice warns the tenant that unless the outstanding rent is paid within the next seven days, the owner or property manager may apply to the court for an order to terminate the tenancy agreement.

    It is advisable for owners to add two or three days on top of the mandated 14 and seven day periods to allow for postage delivery when using ‘snail’ mail. Tenants can reasonably expect this courtesy also.

    How often can a real estate agent carry out routine inspections?

    Not more than four times each year. Inspections must be held between 8am and 6pm. Tenants must be advised if the inspection is before midday or after midday.

    How much notice must a real estate agent/owner give for inspecting the property?

    Not less than seven days or more than 14 days.

    The property I am renting is for sale. How much notice should the owner/agent give to me for prospective buyers to inspect the property?

    The Residential Tenancies Act states that the owner or agent may enter the property for the purpose of showing the premises to prospective purchasers, at any reasonable hour and on a reasonable number of occasions, after giving the tenant reasonable notice.

    This can be in writing or by mutual agreement, such as a phone conversation or a person to person chat.

    In other words, this is not expressly defined but common sense and courtesy must prevail.
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