Despite lease agreements and safe guards many renters feel vulnerable and have tales of bitterness to narrate. The Consumer Affairs Victoria in the period between 2012/13 received 93,000 enquiries and complaints from tenants and landlords. Tenants are searching for answers to vexed questions. Here some pragmatic answers are offered.
Beyond the routine fixed-term lease the specific questions include how to break a lease?
- What are the responsibilities inherent in ending a lease early?
- How much a tenant must pay for that?
The answer is – it depends on the reason for breaking a lease. The notice periods will differ.
How is repair and maintenance differentiated? What is the difference between urgent and non-urgent repairs and how can we differentiate it?
Answer: There are no set procedures to follow in dealing with each of them. If a hot water system breaks down or heating stops during winter urgent repairs will be required.
Bonds: People are a bit confused about bond and think it is part of the rent. So the question is, “Can I use my bond as the last month’s rent?”
Answer: Bond and rent are separate. A bond is lodged with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, as a security against a tenant failing to meet the terms of rental agreement.
Tenants have concerns about rent increases which are mostly unfair and want to know how much it can go up at a time.
Answer: In a fixed-term lease the rent cannot be increased before the expiry date of the lease unless the agreement states otherwise.
To questions like how many times a landlord can come to my house while I am on rent and what is the notice period required for a landlord’s visit and his entering the property?
Answer: There are set rules on when a landlord can enter a property. The reason for entry can be determined on the basis of the notice period.
Basic rights of Tenants
When you find a property to rent in London you must know that the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006 effective from April 2007 explicitly offers tenants some basic rights. These are shields of protection to the tenants and include the following.
Free Rent Book
This is supposed to be provided by the landlord within 28 days of the start date of the tenancy. It will carry the name and address of the landlord, the rent (rates) payable, due date and details of other payments.
The landlords must update tenants about this right in the rent book. There is a housing benefit meant for people renting from private sector which is known as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
Tenants are also protected against harassment by landlords including cutting water or electricity and other forms of intimidation. They can approach the Environmental Health Department attached to the local council and get these actions investigated.
All tenants reserve the right to have a minimum of 28 days of written notice to quit before the court starts eviction proceedings.