The Basics of Landowner–Tenant Law in Australia: Rights and Responsibilities

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The landowner-tenant relationship is an intricate one. To a large extent, both parties are dependent on each other. Tenants and landowners must maintain a healthy and transparent relationship to ensure peace and satisfaction and to be able to go on with their daily lives without hassles.

While that is ideal, that is not often the case. As lawyers, we deal with numerous cases where either the landowner or the tenant has breached their duties. For these reasons, we have decided to outline some basic rights and responsibilities of tenants as well as landowners. 

Rights and Responsibilities: Landowners and Tenants

Landowner-tenant relationships are governed by specific laws in Australia, ensuring the rights and responsibilities of both parties are protected. Whether you are a landowner or a tenant, understanding these basics is crucial for a harmonious tenancy. 

Rental Agreement

The foundation of any tenancy is the rental agreement, which can be a written or verbal contract. Moreover, a written agreement is recommended as it outlines important terms such as rent amount, payment frequency, and lease duration.

Rent Payment

Tenants must pay rent as agreed upon in the rental agreement and landowners must provide written notice if they intend to increase the rent.

Bond aka Security Deposit

Landowners may request a bond, which is a security deposit, usually equivalent to four to six weeks’ rent. Furthermore, the bond must be lodged with a government authority for safekeeping.

Condition Report

Both parties should complete a condition report before the tenant moves in, documenting the property’s condition. This can also be in the form of a checklist. Furthermore, this report is crucial for resolving disputes over damages at the end of the tenancy.

Repairs and Maintenance

Landowners are responsible for ensuring the property is in a habitable condition and maintaining it accordingly. Importantly, tenants are responsible for reporting maintenance issues promptly.

Entry to the Property

If landowners wish to enter the property, they must give tenants proper notice (usually 24-48 hours) before entering the property for inspections or repairs.

Termination of Lease

Both parties can terminate the lease with proper notice. Note that eviction can occur only through a formal legal process. 


In the case that a tenant abandons the property, the landowner can take steps to regain possession, but notice must be given.

Ending a Lease Early

Tenants can request to end the lease early in certain situations, such as hardship or domestic violence. Furthermore, landowners can also terminate the lease early under specific circumstances.

If disputes arise, both parties can seek assistance from a tenancy tribunal or authority to resolve issues fairly.

Discrimination and Fair Treatment

It is illegal to discriminate against tenants based on factors like race, gender, or disability. Moreover, landowners must treat all tenants fairly and equally.

Abiding by Local Regulations

Tenancy laws can vary by state or territory in Australia, so it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with local regulations.

Returning the Bond

When the tenancy ends, the bond should be returned to the tenant in full, unless there are valid reasons for deductions.

Ending a Fixed-Term Lease

If the rental agreement is for a fixed term, it usually ends when the term expires unless both parties agree to renew it.

Notice to Vacate

Proper notice must be given when either party wishes to end the tenancy. The required notice period may vary depending on the circumstances and local laws.

Author Info:  

John Bui is the Principal Solicitor of JB Solicitors – a law firm based in Sydney, Australia. John has extensive knowledge in the areas of family law and commercial litigation.  


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