There are so many bits of paper involved in renting a house. Some of these can end up being worth thousands of dollars to you, so it’s definitely worthwhile keeping all of them. Scan or photograph each one and email it to yourself.
Contracts and Leases
You should get a lease or contract outlining the conditions of the home you want to rent. This lease/contract should be written in English and signed by the landlord. It is also important that you know your landlord or agent’s full name, and the address where you (or the Sheriff) can contact them. Please read your lease / contract BEFORE you sign it. Regardless of whether you do not understand or agree to a clause in the lease/contract, if you have signed it, you are bound by its conditions.
You should get a receipt for any cash or bank cheques that you give to the landlord. Your receipt should have the amount that you paid, why you paid it (e.g., bond, rent for February etc), what the address of the home is, and signed by the landlord. Again, it must be in English. If you have paid by a bank transfer you should still ask for a receipt. There are some situations where the landlord is not required to give you a receipt, but there is no harm in asking. If you are not sure about this, send them an email saying that you understand you’re not going to get a receipt but you just wanted to confirm that you paid them that amount of money. That way, you at least have your own written record of the payment. If you are in a leased property you should receive a receipt from the NSW Department of Fair Trading when they have received your bond. Most leased properties now require online lodging of bonds.
The Condition Report is what you agree, with the landlord, as being the condition of the property at the time that you moved in. If there is damage to the property, beyond reasonable wear and tear, you will be liable to pay for its repair, unless it is noted in the Condition Report. In addition to the Condition Report it is a good idea to take photos of the property (e.g., each wall, the floors, the oven, the windows, etc), showing any broken or dirty items, and email them to your landlord. This will “timestamp” those photos and will allow you to refer to them at a later date to show that whatever damage you are being blamed for, was already there when you moved in. Be ruthless when completing your part of the Condition Report, because they may be very particular when you move out. Whatever needs fixing or cleaning when you move out, that is not in the Condition Report, will be your responsibility. During your time in the home send photos of any damage that comes up, e.g., cracks in the wall, mould appearing, etc. Show that you have tried to maintain the house in good condition.
Email your communications to the landlord, so you have a time stamped written record. If you have a telephone conversation with the landlord, send a follow up email that confirms what you talked about.
The SRC has caseworkers trained in many different aspects of accommodation laws. You can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, together with a copy of your lease or contract, and any other relevant emails, or if you prefer you can book a face-to-face appointment by calling 9660 5222.