A landlord has threatened a tenant with a rent increase after they requested repairs to their one-bedroom Sydney apartment.
The tenant, known only as Tommo, said he had been in the same apartment in inner Sydney for nine years and that the rent ‘has stayed quite reasonable in that time’, at $500 per week.
Tommo said he recently asked the landlord to fix some ongoing issues, including dripping taps, a broken wardrobe door and old bathroom grout that needs filling in.
‘I put in the requests and the landlord came back and said that I could either pay for the repairs myself or the rent would go up to $550 a week’, he wrote in a letter to news.com.au.
A Sydney renter said his landlord put up the rent on his one-bedroom apartment after he requested some repairs to the property
‘Is it legal for a landlord to make me pay, and can they make a threat to raise my rent every time I ask for repairs?’
Alison and Jillian Barrett, from Maurice Blackburn lawyers, said ‘a landlord cannot increase your rent just because you have asked for repairs’.
In Australia, rent increases can only legally occur under certain conditions, which are dependent on the type of lease agreement.
For a fixed-term agreement of less than two years, a landlord can only increase the rent during the fixed-term period if it is predetermined in the agreement what the increased amount will be, or how the increase will be calculated.
But a landlord does not need to give written notice before the increase can take effect.
For fixed-term agreement of two years or more, rent can only be increased once in a 12-month period, and the landlord must provide the tenant with at least 60 days’ written notice.
For those with periodic tenancies, where the agreement does not specify a fixed term or the fixed term has ended but is continuing, rent can only be increased once in a 12-month period and the landlord must provide the tenant with at least 60 days’ written notice.
In Australia, rent increases can only legally occur under certain conditions, which are dependent on the type of lease agreement
Alison and Jillian Barrett said tenants are entitled to object to a rent increase or to try to enter a negotiation.
‘If your landlord is permitted to increase the rent, but you do not agree with the increase, you should contact your landlord and try to negotiate for the rent to remain the same, or for a lesser increase,’ they said.
‘Your landlord does not have to agree, but if they do, you should request this confirmation in writing.’
For someone on a fixed-term lease of two years or more, 21 days’ written notice can be given and the tenant can vacate before the rent increase starts.
Tenants can also apply to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal if they think the rent increase is unfair, but will need to apply within 30 days of receiving the notice.
Experts say tenants are entitled to object to a rent increase or to try to enter a negotiation with their landlord (stock image pictured)
In relation to the repairs Tommo had requested, the lawyers said ‘there is a requirement that a rental property must always be fit to live in’.
‘A landlord certainly can’t agree to repairs being performed conditional upon a rent increase’ they said.
‘The repairs you have requested seem quite reasonable. You aren’t asking the landlord to fully renovate the bathroom, just to perform some minor repairs’.
The lawyers suggest that if an agreement between a tenant and landlord cannot be reached, a tenant can contact NSW Fair Trading’s tenancy complaints and disputes service, or lodge an application with the Tribunal.
Fair Trading or the Tribunal may order a landlord to undertake repairs, and the Tribunal can order that your rent is paid to the Tribunal until the repairs are completed.