A lease is a document that sets out the terms of a residential tenancy agreement. It not only creates the relationship of landlord and tenant between the people who enter into it; it also sets out a number of matters which the landlord and tenant promise to do or not to do and it may specify the tenancy for a fixed term.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA), no matter who asks for a lease to be prepared, the landlord must pay the cost of its preparation [s 50]. At the time the lease is signed the landlord must give a copy to the tenant and, if the landlord has not signed the agreement at this time, must deliver a properly executed copy to the tenant within 21 days of signing or as soon as practicable after that time [s 49(6)].
A tenant who provides false information about his or her identity or occupation may be fined up to $1250 [s 51].
If a landlord fails to provide his or her name and address at the time of entering a lease they may be fined up to $1250 [expiation fee: $210]. Where an agent is acting for the landlord, their name, telephone number and address must also be provided [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 48].
If the parties are going to use a lease they can make one up themselves or obtain a standard form one free of charge from the Tenancies Branch of Consumer and Business Services via the sa.gov.au website.
A residential tenancy agreement need not be in writing - it can be verbal or there might not be any express agreement at all. Even if not in writing, certain terms are included under the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) (see Terms of the agreement).
When a person:
- pays rent to the person who owns the premises; and
- the rent is accepted; and
- the parties behave as though a tenancy exists,
this is likely to be an implied residential tenancy agreement. Such an agreement is just as valid and binding as a written or specific verbal agreement.
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