A residential tenancy agreement, also known as a lease, is an agreement between you and the tenant to live in your property in return for rent. It is a legal contract that sets out the terms and conditions of the arrangement.
Updates to the tenancy agreement
If your property has a swimming pool, from 29 April 2016, a copy of a valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate, issued in the past three years, must also be provided to the tenant. An addendum is available for earlier versions of the agreement. From January 2018, you must register your swimming pool on the NSW Swimming Pool Register.
This does not apply to properties in strata or community schemes with more than two lots. The revised standard form residential tenancy agreement includes an updated clause relating to swimming pools or spa pools in strata or community schemes with more than two lots.
For more information, contact your local council or visit the <swimming pool page>.
From 30 October 2016, you are also required to notify tenants if they are leasing a property that is registered on the loose-fill asbestos register.
For more information, download a copy of the <frequently asked questions> on the changes to the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010.
A fixed-term agreement is used for a period of time with a specific end date. For example, 6 or 12 months.
Periodic (continuing) agreement
A periodic or continuing agreement has no specific end date. If a fixed-term agreement ends and a new lease isn’t signed, the tenant will automatically move to a periodic agreement.
It is uncommon to start a tenancy with a periodic agreement. In a periodic agreement, the landlord and tenant must follow the rules set out in the original agreement or in the prescribed standard agreement.
Regardless of which lease is decided, you will be penalised if you fail to have a written agreement at the start of a tenancy.
There are two additional terms in the tenancy agreement: ‘break fees' and 'pets'.
You can decide if you want these terms to stay in the agreement. If not, they should be deleted before anyone signs the lease.
Other additional terms may be added to the agreement so long as they:
- do not conflict with the tenancy laws or any other laws
- do not conflict with the standard terms of the agreement, and
- are not a term that is prohibited from being added to a tenancy agreement.
These are terms which would:
- Require the tenant to have the carpet professionally cleaned, or pay the cost of cleaning, at the end of the tenancy (except as part of a separate arrangement to allow the tenant to keep a pet on the premises).
- require the tenant to take out any form of insurance, such as home contents or public liability insurance
- exempt the landlord, agent or any other person from legal liability for any negligent act or omission
- require the tenant to pay a higher rent, a penalty or some other form of damages if they breach the agreement
- give the tenant a reduced rent or rebate for not breaching the agreement or
- require the tenant to use the services of a particular person or business to carry out their obligations under the agreement, such as a nominated lawn mowing or pool cleaning company.
Any additional terms which are prohibited or conflict with the law or the standard terms are void and unenforceable. Penalties can be imposed for including prohibited terms in an agreement.
Giving the tenant a copy
You, or your agent, need to complete and sign a written tenancy agreement at the start of each tenancy. Before the tenant signs the agreement they must be given a copy of the new tenant checklist.
Cost of agreement
- If you are using an agent, you can negotiate whether or not they will charge you for preparing and supplying the agreements.
- The tenant cannot be charged a fee for their copy of the agreement or the costs associated with filling it in.
- Stamp duty is no longer payable on residential tenancy agreements.
- If the agreement term is for more than three years old, you can ask the tenant to pay for registration with the Land and Property Management Authority.
Agreements of 20 years or more
With a fixed-term agreement of 20 years or more, the Act is flexible. You are able to omit or vary most of the mandatory terms of the standard agreement.
Things you cannot alter in an agreement of 20 years or more are:
- the responsibility of the landlord to pay rates, taxes and charges,
- the limit of no more than one rent increase per year,
- access to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve disputes, and
- the grounds on which the agreement may be terminated.