Renting privately? Get it in writing

13 March 2024

"Leases, and the conditions of the leases, should still be in writing. Don’t accept a handshake deal or a promise."

REIWA’s free Information Service is receiving a lot of calls from tenants regarding issues with their leases. Unfortunately, many of these issues relate to the private rental market – where tenants rent directly from a landlord, not through a property manager.

Some of these issues include:

  • “There are some maintenance issues with my home. My landlord is going overseas for a few weeks and says they’ll look into it when they get back.”
  • “My landlord keeps his fishing fridges in the garage of the home I’m renting, I’m paying the electricity for the property. Can he do that?”
  • “My landlord drops by whenever they like.” 
  • “I don’t have a lease agreement and my landlord has just told me they want me to move out so a family member can move in.”

The rental market is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and tenants and property owners need to abide by this legislation. However not all private landlords are aware of the rules and this is where issues can arise.

Naturally we’d recommend that you rent through a REIWA property manager, they are aware of the legislation and the rights and responsibilities of property owners and tenants. They also use REIWA’s legally validated lease agreements.

However, even if you’re renting in the private market, everything should still be done correctly.

Leases, and the conditions of the leases, should still be in writing. Don’t accept a handshake deal or a promise. Also be wary of lease agreements written by the landlord, they may not be legally correct.

In addition, any conditions in the lease should abide by the legislation, for example, a landlord cannot add a clause that says they have the right to put the rent up every three months. Maintenance issues must be dealt with in a timely manner, and if they want you to move out, they need to give you the correct amount of notice in writing.

You can read more about your rights and responsibilities via our Insights page on Just search under resources.

You can also find information on renting on Consumer Protection’s website and you can download lease agreements to use if you rent privately.

If you lease through a REIWA member you can call our Information Services team on 9380 8200 (business hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email [email protected] if you have questions about your lease.

If you are renting in the private market and are having issues with your lease you can call Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 or email [email protected] to clarify your rights and the landlord’s responsibilities.

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