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Get the facts on special terms

The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) considers that the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act) adequately covers provisions for cleaning and returning the property to standard. Should property managers/owners decide to use special terms they should obtain their own advice on how to achieve these lawfully.

The Act states that tenants cannot be required to buy, or agree to buy, goods or services from the property manager/owner or a person nominated by the property manager/owner.

Tenants are only obliged to leave a property “as far as possible, in the same condition that it was in at the start of the tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted”.

What should I do if my tenancy agreements include special terms that might not be compliant? 

Watch this video below for proactive actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of receiving a penalty for non-compliance from the RTA.

The RTA encourages property managers/owners to take proactive steps to correct any non-complying contracts and actions. Any changes should be communicated to their tenants so that tenants understand they are not obliged to provide a receipt or engage a ‘professional’ when vacating the premises at the end of the lease.

Recent case law

In March 2018, the RTA successfully prosecuted a property management agency in Townsville Magistrates Court. The Court fined the agency for breaches of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act) including unlawful conditions in tenancy agreements that required tenants to have carpets and curtains professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy. A penalty of $6,000 was handed down with an additional $2,500 for unlawfully entering a tenant’s home.

This judgement set a precedent about the use of special terms in tenancy agreements.

If a special term in a tenancy agreement specifically states that a tenant must provide a receipt or engage a ‘professional’, or require carpets and curtains to be professionally cleaned, it is a significant breach of the section 171 of the RTRA Act (supply of goods and services).