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.
In Tasmania, the maximum period that each rental payment can relate to is 4 weeks.
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 the amount of rent in advance that can be paid and how it can be used.
The maximum amount that the landlord can require the tenant to pay for rent in advance is 4 weeks’ rent.
A tenant can volunteer to pay as much rent in advance as they wish.
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 transfer 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.
It is best practice for the landlord to not require the tenant to pay rent in a method that incurs a fee for transfer or deposit of funds. This includes fees charged by third party payment systems.
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 Tasmania, the landlord (or agent) must give a receipt to the tenant for all rent payments received in cash or cheque. The receipt should be given as soon as possible after the payment is received.
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 should 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 following details for each payment:
The landlord is required by law to keep the rental records for 5 years after the tenancy agreement terminates.
Although it is not required by law, if the tenant requests a copy of the rental records from the landlord, it is best practice for the landlord to provide the record so that all parties are aware of the history of the tenancy.
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 rent can be increased. In Tasmania, the restrictions vary depending on the nature of the tenancy agreement.
If the tenancy agreement is in writing, the landlord cannot increase the rent unless there is a term in the agreement allowing for an increase.
Although it is not necessary for verbal tenancy agreements to include a term allowing for an increase in rent, it is best practice for all parties to be aware of that increases may be necessary, and if so, by how much and when.
Making both the tenant and landlord aware of this when entering the tenancy reduces the likelihood of problems arising at a later point.
When rent can be increased
Rent can only be increased if the tenant is given at least 60 days written notice. The notice must state the amount of the increase, and the date from when the increase will take effect.
There can only be one rent increase every 12 months.
As mentioned above, the rent under a written tenancy agreement can only be increased if the agreement allows this. 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 verbal agreement, it is in all parties’ best interests to at least discuss the potential for a rent increase during the course of the tenancy.
If the agreement contains a term that prohibits any rent increases, then the landlord cannot increase the rent at any time.
60 Days Written Notice
The requirement of 60 days written notice for any 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.
To ensure that this requirement is met, there are a number of things to remember:
Unreasonable Rent Increase
If the tenant believes that a rent increase 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 the Residential Tenancy Commissioner for a review of the increase. Check out our Resolving Disputes page for more information.
The Commissioner has the power to change and set the rent payable under an agreement.
The rent under a tenancy agreement may also be reduced. In Tasmania, 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.