During a tenancy

You’ve applied for a tenancy, been accepted, signed the tenancy agreement and moved in: now you can make yourself at home. hopefully the worst that will happen is that you will need a repair to be done (attended to promptly by the landlord) and the rent will be increased (by a modest amount).

This section discusses some of the issues that may arise during a tenancy. Except as noted, all references are to sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) (the RT Act 2010).

First, some general tips for dealing with problems:

General tips for dealing with problems

• When communicating with your landlord or agent, put it in writing, and keep a copy. If you are using a form provided by the agent, ask them to make a copy for you. If you have a conversation in person or by phone, follow it up with a letter or email confirming what was said, or at least make a written dated note for your own records. Buy an extra diary each year and record in it all your dealings relating to your tenancy.

• Always keep in mind that real estate agents work for landlords and not for tenants or prospective tenants. An agent might offer to help you, but their primary professional obligation is to act in the interests of their principal – that is, the landlord who pays them.

• Be practical. Look for ways of solving a problem, not more reasons why a problem cannot be solved. Keep your mind open to acceptable compromises or alternative solutions. If you are thinking of pursuing a matter just to have your day in court (or Tribunal), or to teach your landlord a lesson, or ‘because of the principle of the thing’, think twice.