Rental & Tenants

We believe that wherever possible maintaining existing accommodation provides the best outcomes for our clients. We assist clients to communicate with their landlords and regain control of their budgets through programs such as Money Matters and Rent It, Keep It. We in some circumstances will advocate on our clients behalf. We maintain positive connections with Realtors and Property Managers throughout the Illawarra.

However at other times, our clients have either become homeless, need to move on from existing accommodation for a variety of reasons or have been unable to resolve issues with landlords or real estates at their current locations. For these clients we may offer a more intensive support program to find suitable accommodation and transition them in to long term stable housing.

Services We Provide

We provide a range of services to assist families and individuals in need. For more information click on a title below.

Early Intervention Services
We have developed a ‘first to know’ model with real estate agents through a forum in Wollongong. Agencies are now able to refer ‘at-risk’ clients to us and we are able support clients through the ‘Rent it, Keep it’ programs.

Additionally the Wollongong Homeless Hub provides a point of first contact for individuals to drop in and discover programs and services available to assist them maintain existing tenancies.

Short-term Housing
We maintain and manage a number of homes leased through Community Social Housing, the Housing Trust and a number of  homes through Community Leasing from Housing NSW. Homes are leased to families and individuals on a short term basis. Clients are fully supported in accessing services to resolve any issues that may have lead to homelessness. Families and individuals are supported as they search for, apply and secure longer term housing in either the public housing and/or private rental market.

Information and Referral Services
We work on the ‘no wrong door’ policy. If an individual or family approaches us, we work with the individuals involved to find the best solution for them. At times we may not be able to assist the family or individual directly, we will however provide referrals to the appropriate agencies and follow up with clients to ensure that they have been able to access relevant services.

Multi-service Case Management
Clients often have diverse and complicated needs. We work with clients to integrate the services of many different organisations to maximise the chance of a client making lasting improvements in their circumstances through positive change. We assist clients using our network of existing partners to obtain and maintain accommodation.

Received a termination notice for your tenancy?

For a step by step guide to dealing with a termination notice have a look at our information sheet So… I’ve been served with a notice to vacate.

Additional Information / Resources?

Advice on housing and tenancy is available from a range of resources online and in person.

Rental Online Questionnaire

Below is a list of frequently asked questions to do with tenancy and your rights as a tenant. Read through the list below and click on a question to reveal the answer.

Rental Questionnaire

There is a law that covers tenants and landlords in New South Wales?

TRUE – Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 and the Boarding Houses Act 2012 covers tenancy services in NSW

To be a tenant you need to have a written residential tenancy agreement (lease)?

FALSE – You may have either a written or oral residential tenancy agreement under the Act.

The landlord can add any terms that he wants to the tenancy agreement?

FALSE – There are certain things that the law specifically prohibits from being in the lease:

  • that the tenant must have the carpet professionally cleaned, or pay the cost of such cleaning, at the end of the tenancy [unless the cleaning is required because animals have been kept on the premises during the tenancy],
  • that the tenant must take out a specified, or any, form of insurance,
  • exempting the landlord from liability for any act or omission by the landlord, the landlord’s agent or any person acting on behalf of the landlord or landlord’s agent,
  • that, if the tenant breaches the agreement, the tenant is liable to pay all or any part of the remaining rent under the agreement, increased rent, a penalty or liquidated damages,
  • that, if the tenant does not breach the agreement, the rent is or may be reduced or the tenant is to be or may be paid a rebate of rent or other benefit.

A residential tenancy agreement must not contain a term having the effect that the tenant must use the services of a specified person or business to carry out any of the tenant’s obligations under the agreement.

Additionally the law states that any term that is inconsistent with any term of the standard residential tenancy agreement, or prohibited by the Act or Regulation is void.

The tenant gets fourteen days to fill in the condition report and return the landlord at the start of the tenancy.

FALSE – Complete your condition report and return the report within 7 days.  If the landlord/agent does not give you a condition report, write a detailed report on the condition of the premises yourself and have a witness sign and date it.

The rental bond can be more than 4 weeks rent.

FALSE – The most bond you can be required to pay is an amount equal to 4 weeks rent (that is, the rent you agreed to pay at the start of the tenancy).

The landlord can ask the tenant to top up the bond if the rent has been increased during the tenancy.

FALSE –The landlord/agent cannot require you to pay more (or another) bond when the rent is increased or if a new tenant moves in under the original tenancy agreement.

The landlord can ask for a maximum of 2 weeks rent in advance at the start of the tenancy.

TRUE – The landlord/agent or the tenancy agreement cannot require you to pay more than 2 weeks rent in advance (you may choose to pay more). They cannot demand further rent until it falls due and cannot ask for a post-dated cheque.

The landlord must give 30 days notice prior to increasing the rent.

FALSE –The landlord/agent must give you 60 days written notice of a rent increase.

The landlord can increase the rent as often as he wants.

IT DEPENDS  –

This depends on the type of tenancy agreement you have – see the table below.

A fixed-term agreement is for a specified period (e.g. 6 months). A periodic agreement is one where the fixed term has expired or no fixed term is specified.

Agreement type Permitted frequency
Fixed-term of more than 2 years once in any 12-month period
Fixed-term of 2 years or less (see below)
Periodic no limit

For a fixed-term agreements of 2 years or less the landlord/agent can only increase the rent if your agreement sets out the amount of the increase or the method of calculating it.

The tenant must pay rent on time.

TRUE

The tenant only has to pay for water electricity and gas if the premises are separately metered.

TRUE – Where premises are separately metered, you pay for electricity or gas. If not, you cannot be charged for electricity or gas. If the premises are water efficient and separately metered you may be required to pay for water. If the tenancy commenced before February 2011, you can only be asked to pay for water after 31 January 2012 if water efficiency measures have been installed.

The landlord must give the tenant notice before coming to the rented premises.

TRUE – You are entitled to ‘reasonable peace, comfort and privacy’ in your use of the premises. The landlord/agent must not interfere with, or cause or permit anyone to interfere with, your peace, comfort and privacy. The landlord/agent, or another person authorised by the landlord, can enter the premises at any time with your consent.

The landlord/agent, or another person authorised by the landlord, can enter the premises without your consent and without notice, only:

  1. in an emergency, or
  2. to do urgent repairs, or
  3. if the landlord thinks that the premises have been abandoned, or
  4. in accordance with an order of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), or
  5. if they have serious concern about the health/safety of a person on the premises (after they have first tried to get your consent to enter).

Except in the case of (e) above, the ‘Limits to entry without consent’ (see below) do not apply.

The landlord/agent, or another person authorised by the landlord, can enter the premises without your consent for certain purposes. See the table below for the number of times entry is permitted and minimum notice periods.

Except as noted in the table, notice does not have to be in writing. If notice is posted to you, the landlord/agent must allow an extra 4 working days for delivery.

Purpose Maximum frequency Minimum notice
To inspect the premises 4 times in any 12-month period 7 days written notice each time
To carry out or assess the need for:

  • necessary repairs/maintenance (non-urgent)
  • work to meet legal health/safety obligations
(none – as required) 2 days notice each time
To value the premises 1 time in any 12-month period 7 days notice each time
To show the premises to prospective tenants A ‘reasonable’ number of times in the 14 days before the tenancy agreement ends ‘Reasonable’ notice each time
To show the premises to prospective buyers 2 times in any period of a week
  • Before first showing: 14 days written notice of intention to sell, then
  • before each showing: as agreed, otherwise 48 hours notice each time
The landlord can refuse to do repairs if he cannot afford them.

FALSE – The landlord is required to to provide and maintain the premises in ‘reasonable’ repair. You can contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for advice about this.

The tenant must fix things that they break in the premises

TRUE – It is your responsibility not to damage or permit damage to the premises deliberately or negligently – you are responsible for damage by anyone who is on the premises with your consent

The premises must have a smoke alarm installed.

TRUE – It is a term of every residential tenancy agreement that the landlord will install and maintain smoke alarms according to the standards in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

The tenant must not cause noise and nuisance at the premises or use the premises for illegal purposes

TRUE – Your are not to use or permit the premises to be used for an illegal purpose, to cause or permit a nuisance or to interfere with the peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours

The tenant is responsible for the behaviour of their guests

TRUE – You are responsible to pay for any damage caused by you or your guests . You are responsible for your guests not to use the premises for illegal purposes or interfere with the peace, comfort and privacy of neighbours

A notice of termination has to be in writing.

TRUE – The the landlord must give you a termination notice. The agreement ends once you give vacant possession of the premises to the landlord (you move out and return the keys).  The notice must be signed by the landlord/agent and set out:

  •  the address of the premises
  • the day by which the landlord/agent wants vacant possession
  • the ground for termination (the reason, if any)

The landlord/agent must properly send or deliver the notice to you: in person, by post, by fax, or by hand in an addressed envelope to a mailbox at your residential or business address.

The landlord has to give 7 days notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant is in rent arrears.

FALSE – They must give you at least 14 days notice.

If a tenant leaves the tenancy during the fixed term of the agreement they must compensate the landlord.

True – If you break a the lease agreement you may be required to compensate the landlord for loses sustained because of the broken agreement. Some leases have a break fee included in the terms and conditions, if so look at your lease. If no break fee is specified you will need to negotiate with your landlord.  If you cannot come to an agreement, the landlord/agent may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order that you pay a certain amount in compensation. There are limited acceptable reasons to break your lease without penalty for example victims of domestic violence or you are offered a public housing property. The landlord must:

  • provide the tribunal with details of their losses (e.g. lost rent, advertising costs, an agent’s re-letting fee)
  • outline the steps they took to minimise their losses (e.g. advertising for a new tenant without delay).
The landlord and tenant can both terminate the tenancy without reason.

IT DEPENDS – The landlord cannot end your agreement without grounds before the last day of the fixed term. If the agreement does not terminate at the end of the term, it automatically becomes a periodic agreement.

If the landlord/agent wants to end your agreement at the end of the fixed term, they must give you at least 30 days notice that includes the last day of the term. If the landlord applies for a termination order,  NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal  must terminate the agreement.   The landlord/agent can end the a periodic agreement by giving 90 days notice.

A tenant may terminate the agreement with 21 days notices for most reasons for not fixed term agreements. Please seek advice for other circumstances from your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.

If a tenant receives a notice of termination they have to move out of the premises on the date given in the notice.

FALSE – However if you do not come to an agreement with the landlord or resolve the issue they  can get a warrant for possession from NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. With this warrant, a sheriff’s officer can remove you from the premises – with police help if needed.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal can make legally binding decisions about disputes between landlords and tenants.

TRUE – The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) is an independent body which deals with certain kinds of disputes between landlords and tenants. It is not a formal court, but its decisions are legally binding. The people who hear cases at the tribunal are called tribunal members. Most remedies from the tribunal are for breach of contract – not obeying the terms of the residential tenancy agreement.

Only landlords can apply to the tribunal

FALSE – Either a Tenant or a Landlord can make an application to the Tribunal

Housing NSW (Department of Housing) and community housing e.g Emergency Family Housing) have their own laws.

TRUE – This style of housing is called Social Housing. Like other tenants, social housing tenants have rights and responsibilities under residential tenancies law and other NSW laws. The law is mostly the same for social housing tenants as it is for other tenants – there are a few differences.

For more information you can visit http://www.tenants.org.au/