This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?
Rent is a regular payment made by the tenant(s) to the landlord in return for the right of use of the property or room.
The tenant is required to pay the rent to the landlord on the day that the rent is due. The tenant can also choose to pay rent before the due date.
There are restrictions on the types of payments that a landlord can receive from a tenant during a tenancy. Rent is one of types of payment allowed. The Rental Bond and charges for utilities are the other main types of payments allowed during the tenancy.
There are some restrictions on how much landlords can require as rent in advance. The tenant can volunteer to pay as much rent in advance as they wish.
Before the end of the first two weeks of the tenancy, the landlord cannot require more than 2 weeks of rent in advance.
Once rent in advance has been paid, the landlord cannot require the tenant to pay any further rent until it becomes due.
The method of paying rent should be agreed to by the tenant and landlord in the residential tenancy agreement. It is recommended that the tenant and landlord agree on an alternative means of payment in case issues arise with the main method.
The most popular ways of paying rent in a share accommodation situation are via direct bank transfers or in cash
Other payment methods could include cheque, credit card, BPAY or PayPal. Never pay rent via an untraceable money transfer system such as Western Union.
In South Australia, the landlord must provide the tenant at least one option to pay the rent that does not involve cash or the payment of an additional fee to a third party. Examples of prohibited charges include transaction fees and service charges imposed for each payment. This includes fees and charges levied by landlords or third party payment systems. However, the ordinary bank or account fees payable by a tenant to their financial institution are not considered to be prohibited charges.
Keeping track of rent payments through receipts and other permanent, written records is an important part of securing a tenancy and preventing any issues from arising.
In South Australia, the landlord (or agent) must give the tenant a receipt for all rent payments that are not direct bank transfers. This means that a receipt is required for all cash or cheque payments. The receipt must be given to the tenant within 48 hours of payment.
No receipt is required by law for electronic bank transfer payments. This is because the electronic transaction record acts as a permanent record of the payment. Although this is sufficient, a written receipt gives greater certainty and clarity.
Although receipts are not always required by law depending on the way rent is paid, asking for and giving receipts regardless of payment method is best practice for landlords and tenants alike. In the unlikely event that a dispute arises regarding payment of rent, receipts are the main form of evidence used.
What should be in the receipt?
The receipt should clearly indicate that it is a receipt—it is advisable for each receipt to be a separate document rather than entries in a rent receipt book.
When a receipt is given, it must include the following details:
The landlord is also required to keep a record of rent paid, regardless of whether a receipt was given for the payments. If a receipt was given for the payment, then keeping a copy of the receipt is usually sufficient. The record should include the same details for each payment as are required for a receipt (listed above).
A tenant can make a written request for a copy of the rental record at any time. The landlord should provide a copy of the record within 7 days of the request.
Landlords are allowed to increase the amount of rent payable during the course of the tenancy. For the protection and certainty of both parties, there are restrictions on the when and how the landlord can increase the rent. In South Australia, the restrictions vary depending on the nature of the tenancy agreement.
Alternatively, the landlord and tenant can agree to increase the rent at any time.
Detailing any future rent increases in the residential tenancy agreement ensures that the parties are aware of that possibility
When rent can be increased by the landlord
Rent can only be increased by the landlord if the tenant is given at least 60 days written notice. The landlord is only allowed to increase the rent at least 12 months after the beginning of the tenancy. For any subsequent increases, the rent can only be increased once every 12 months.
If the terms of the tenancy agreement prohibit an increase in rent, then the landlord cannot increase the rent.
The rent under a fixed term tenancy agreement can only be increased if the terms of the agreement allows this. Ideally, the agreement should state either the increased rent amount, or at least a method for calculating the increased rent. While this is not required for a periodic agreement, it is in all parties’ best interests to at least discuss the potential for a rent increase during the course of the tenancy.
When a fixed term tenancy agreement continues after the fixed term has ended, it then becomes a periodic agreement. Therefore, after the end of the term, the rules for periodic agreements apply in place of the fixed term rules.
A fixed term tenancy is where the tenancy agreement has a specific length agreed to by the tenant and landlord, e.g. 6 months. A periodic tenancy is where the tenancy agreement has no specific length agreed to, e.g. Month-to-month
60 Days Written Notice
The requirement of 60 days written notice for a rent increase allows both the tenant and landlord time to discuss and prepare for any increase. Any increase in rent that does not follow this requirement is invalid.
Use the official South Australian Government Notice of Rent Increase form.
To ensure that this requirement is met, there are a number of things to remember:
Rent increases during a tenancy agreement renewal
When the same tenant and landlord renew a tenancy for the same property immediately after the end of the original lease, if the rent has increased then the landlord must give 60 days written notice as described above.
If the tenant believes that the rental rate has become is excessive, the first step should be to discuss the issue with the landlord. If the landlord and tenant cannot come to an agreement, then the tenant can apply to SACAT for a review of the increase. Check out our Resolving Disputes page for more information.
Rent can be considered excessive because of an increase in rent, or because the quality or nature of the premises has been reduced while the rent remains the same.
SACAT has the power to change and set the rent payable under an agreement.
The rent under a tenancy agreement may also be reduced. In South Australia, the tenant and landlord can agree to reduce the rent payable at any time.
Transferring money safely
When paying your deposit, bond or rent by cash make sure you get a receipt. With modern phones this can be as simple as an SMS or email confirming the amount, date and what it is for. Keep a copy of this incase you need it later.
Never ever transfer money to a bank account outside of Australia or use a untraceable money transfer system such as WESTERN UNION. If anyone asks you to do this on any website it is likely to be a scam and you are almost guaranteed to lose your money.
If this ever happens on Flatmates.com.au report the member immediately so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.
These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.