The successful applicant for a rental property will usually be asked by the agent or landlord to sign a lease, also called a residential tenancy agreement, before they can move in.
A lease is a legal contract between tenants and landlords for which there is no cooling-off period.
Leases can be written or verbal, but both need to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. We recommend using written leases.
Written leases must accurately reflect the wording of the official Residential tenancy agreement (Word, 1.5MB). Extra terms and conditions may be included but must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Where a written lease is used, the agent or landlord must give the tenant(s) an unsigned copy of the lease before asking them to sign. Tenants should always read the lease thoroughly before signing and ask questions if they don’t understand any part of it.
The lease outlines:
- the amount of rent and how it is to be paid
- the length and type of tenancy
- the amount of bond required
- other conditions and rules
- any special terms agreed by the parties.
There are two common types of leases:
- Fixed term – a fixed-term lease is for a set period of time, usually six or 12 months. After a fixed-term lease expires, a tenant can either sign a new fixed-term lease or roll automatically onto a periodic lease.
- Periodic lease – a tenant will usually roll over to a periodic lease (commonly called a ‘month by month’ lease) when their fixed-term lease ends. Normally, when a lease becomes periodic, the tenant does not sign a new lease; however, the terms and conditions of the original agreement still apply. A tenant on a periodic lease does not have to sign a new fixed-term lease, although if they do not they risk the security of their tenancy.