Here's a checklist of things to arrange when moving into new accommodation.
If you have to arrange for the connection of utilities (gas, electricity, telephone or internet) you can compare deals offered by providers through Youcompare. Starting an account is a quick and easy process once you have selected your providers. Connectnow is a free service which will organise the connection of your utilities, as well as many other services.
If utilities are already connected, arrange for the meters to be read so that you don't end up paying the previous tenant's bills.
In a share-house, decide how you will pay the bills and whose name will be on which account. Check and keep a record of all the meter readings (ie. gas, electricity and water) before you start using them. Decide in advance which other services the house-mates will share and pay for (eg. internet, PayTV, etc.).
In the first days of moving in, check the property for signs of mice or other pests. Don't delay reporting them to the landlord in writing. They are the landlord's responsiblity, if you can prove that they were there when you moved in.
There are lots of "Op-shops" where you can buy second-hand furniture and household goods to equip your new home for a fraction of the price of new items. The money raised helps support charitable organisations, so you are doing a good deed for others when you shop! Find Op-shops in your area.
It is highly advisable to keep all tenancy records in case of a dispute, and important contact details in case of an emergency.
Get a receipt every time you make cash payments to your landlord, including for the bond.
Store all tenancy records safely
copy of your lease
receipts for all payments
any correspondence, including maintenance requests
Ask the landlord/agent about arrangements if you have a plumbing or electrical emergency. Normally, you need to report all repairs directly to the landlord/agent. If you call the tradesperson direct, you may be billed for the work done, not the landlord.
Record important local telephone numbers eg. police, taxi, etc.
Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities when it comes to repairs.
When the tenant moves in, the landlord must provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness and repair.
Landlords are responsible for maintaining the premises during the tenancy and paying for repairs, as long as the damage is not caused by you or your visitors. This includes furnishings provided in the property.
Tenants are responsible for notifying landlords of repairs which are required. If you don't do this, then you may be liable for any resulting damage to the property.
When reporting non-urgent maintenance issues, do it in writing - email is acceptable. Then the landlord has a legal obligation to attend to the repair.
If the landlord does not arrange for the repairs within a reasonable amount of time, or charges you for something which you did not damage, the Tenancies Branch can assist you.
Properties with very poor or unsafe conditions may not meet minimum standards. A landlord's failure to repair the problem could limit the amount of rent which can be charged. If you have been unsuccessful negotiating with the landlord, you may need to contact the Housing Improvement Branch.
In the event of a burst pipe or serious leak, you need to shut down the water system immediately. It is advisable to ask the landlord about the location of the stop valve before an emergency occurs. It is far more difficult to do this when the property is being flooded.
Most landlords are very helpful. So, try to establish good communication and a positive relationship with your landlord, but you should also know your rights as a tenant.
Never rented before? Here are some tips to help things go smoothly.
Always pay your rent on time. If a problem occurs, then contact your landlord/agent immediately. Usually, they will try to be flexible, as long as this happens rarely.
Do your best to look after the property. That may include the garden.
Report any maintenance issue or damages to the landlord, as soon as possible.
Be a good neighbour. Noise is a common problem. If your music can be heard in the driveway or street, there will probably be complaints.
The landlord is not permitted to enter the property in normal circumstances without your permission and must give you notice of an inspection. As a tenant you are entitled to peace, privacy and quiet enjoyment of the rental property. However, the proprietor of a rooming house (eg. a student hostel) may enter the common areas at any time.
Always respond to letters or emails from your landlord/agent. If you don't understand them, simply contact us or the Tenancies Branch for advice.
In the case of a dispute, try to negotiate a resolution directly with the landlord. If that is not successful, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) has the authority to make a legally binding decision. An interpreter can be arranged at no charge. Please contact us for help with this process.
If the landlord plans to sell the property, he/she may need access for prospective buyers to inspect. If the property is sold, you are still entitled to stay there until the end of your Fixed Term Lease.
If you are in a boarder/lodger situation and have a dispute with the owner of the property, you can seek free legal advice from the UniSA Legal Advice Clinic or from the Legal Helpline Ph: 1300 366 424. Uniting Communities also offers a free dispute resolution service.
If you are in a share-house, agree on some strategies. Keep an eye on your housemates and their friends. Are they helping to keep the costs down? If they tend to leave the air-conditioner / heater running too high, you may need to remind them that if it keeps happening, they will have to pay extra.
Rent increases are only permitted with a Fixed Term lease, and only if the lease specifically states that there may be an increase during the fixed term. The amount of proposed increase must also be specified.
All residential properties in South Australia must meet minimum standards. As a tenant, you have a right to live in a safe environment. If you are concerned about your property, find out about substandard properties, and what you can do.
First of all, take normal steps to ensure your household security eg. locking doors and windows, etc.
Unfortunately, sometimes theft or damage still occurs, so it is wise to take out home contents insurance. Contact insurance providers online for quotes.
There are simple ways to identify your valuables and make them unattractive to thieves. Here are some tips from SA Police, including marking your valuables with an ultra-violet pen or engraver. DataDotDNA technology is another way of identifying your valuables.