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Understanding your Tenancy Rights and Responsibilities

Once you have found a property you are interested in, the next step is to make an application to the owner/agent.

You will be required to fill out a form (Standard Application to Lease Residential Premises Form) applying for a particular property you are interested in.

Tenancy Application

This form contains questions for you to answer.
The owner/agent will use the information to make a decision about whether they are willing to rent a property to you.

  • Make sure you only apply for a property if you really want to live there and only apply for one property at a time.
  • This application is a *legal document so ensure you read it carefully.
  • Seek advice, if there is anything you don’t understand, as you may be tied to the tenancy if your application is accepted but you decide not to take it.
  • You will often have to pay an Option fee(1 weeks rent)with your application. (see Moving In costs)
  • ALWAYS ask for a receipt for any money that you pay to an owner/agent.

Download this form and have a go at filling it out to give you an idea of what information you will need to provide in your application.

Standard lease Application.pdf
470k Portable document format


You may have more success in securing a tenancy if you can find someone who is willing to be a guarantor. You will need to:

  • Get this person’s permission first if you wish to name them as guarantor.
  • Nominate a guarantor who is older than yourself, and is willing to support you financially through any difficulties that you may have paying your rent or with your lease.

Remember, a guarantor is legally bound to pay your rent if you get behind, so you MUST ask their permission first. The owner/agent should be given the contact details of the person who agrees to act as guarantor.

Types of Leases

There are two types of leases, which is something you need to consider before you enter into an agreement with the agent/owner.

Periodic Tenancy (Lease)

A periodic tenancy is for an unlimited time. It does not have a fixed end date. The tenancy continues indefinitely until you or the owner decides to end it. What you need to know about a periodic tenancy is:

  • If you want to move out of the property, you need to give 21 days’ notice in writing to the owner/agent of when you want to move out.
  • The owner/agent can end your tenancy without giving you a reason but must give you 60 days notice on the correct form (Form 1C-contact TASWA for more details) TASWA
  • If the premises are sold the owner/agent must give you at least 30 days notice (s63) if it is a condition of sale that the property be vacant to the new owner. In this situation you must be given a form 1C: Notice of Termination with the correct part filled in.

Fixed Term Tenancy (Lease)

A fixed term tenancy is for a fixed time. It has a definite start and end date. What you need to know about a fixed term tenancy is:

  • Once you have signed a lease for a fixed period of time, it is very hard to break the lease.
  • Even if you want to move out of the property before the end date of your lease, you will be required to pay rent (and advertising costs) until a new tenant is found or the lease runs out.
  • Be careful about how long you sign the lease for. If you don’t think you can commit to a 12 month lease, only sign a 6 month lease.
  • If you have a fixed term lease, you cannot be forced to move out of the tenancy before the end date on the lease unless you break the agreement (i.e. fail to pay rent).

Shared Tenancies

You may be searching for a property to rent, with a couple of friends. It is important to know and understand your legal rights and responsibilities in a shared house. For example:


  • A co-tenancy is when all of the people in the house have their name on the lease.
  • Each co-tenant has the same rights & responsibilities, such as paying rent and looking after the property.
  • If one co-tenant stops paying rent or leaves the property; the other co-tenants are responsible for paying their rent.


  • A sub-tenant does not have their name on the lease with the owner/agent, but has an agreement with the head tenant.
  • A sub-tenant pays their rent to the head tenant, rather than the owner/agent.

Head Tenant

  • A head tenant signs the lease and then sublets the rooms in the house.
  • The head tenants name is the only name on the lease and they have the same rights and responsibilities as a landlord in relation to their sub tenants.

In shared housing arrangements, the owner/agent must be notified and their permission must be obtained with regard to shared tenancies. This permission must be in writing. Some tenancy arrangements state that you cannot sublet any part of the premises, which means that when you sign a lease agreement, only those people whose names are on the lease are allowed to live in the rental property.

Tenancy Agreement

So, you have lodged your application for a tenancy and the owner/agent has accepted you as a tenant. Congratulations!!

You should now have an understanding of what type of tenancy you are entering into (periodic or fixed term) or whether you have been accepted for a shared tenancy arrangement.

What happens now?

When you move into your place you will usually have to sign a tenancy agreement (also known as a lease). A tenancy agreement can be:

  • A written or verbal agreement. It is recommended to get the agreement in writing, as it will help clarify your situation if any disputes arise.

The tenancy agreement between you and the owner/agent outlines your and the owner’s rights and responsibilities. For example:

  • How long you can stay-for a fixed or unlimited time.
  • The amount of rent you pay and how often.
  • Who pays the water costs-whether they are shared or not.
  • How many people are allowed to live in the premises.
  • How much pet bond is to be paid (if pets are allowed).

It is important to remember that the tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract.

It must not include any conditions that break the rules of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987. There can be serious consequences if either party breaks the agreement or rules of the Act.

Do not sign a tenancy agreement if you do not agree with what it says or do not understand it.

Contact TASWA for any advice before signing.

Your Responsibilities

Your obligations will be set out in the tenancy agreement, such as:

  • you will have to pay rent
  • keep the place reasonably clean
  • tell the owner/agent of any damage within 3 days of it happening
  • pay for any damage caused by you or people at your place
  • not cause a nuisance and not use the premises for illegal purposes.

The obligations of the owner/agent will also be outlined in the tenancy agreement, such as:

  • The owner/agent must tell you seven days in advance of any inspection of the premises (this must be in writing and state the date and time of inspection).
  • If there are necessary repairs to be done you should be given 72 hours notice (this does not include general renovations).
  • If you are in a fixed term tenancy your owner/agent can only put the rent up if there is a specific clause in your tenancy agreement, which allows for an increase. A rent increase notice must be in writing, giving 60 days notice, state the amount of the increase and the day you start paying it. The rent cannot be increased more than once every 6 months.

If you are in a periodic tenancy, the owner/agent needs to give you at least 60 days written notice about a rent increase and can only do so if the rent has not increased within the last 6 months.

Contact TASWA for more advice. TASWA

You will get your bond back at the end of your tenancy if you leave the place in the condition it was in when you moved in, unless you owe money for rent, damage, water or any other cost. When you fill out the property condition report you can add anything that is wrong with the place. This will make it easier for you to get your bond back, as you will not be blamed for damage you did not cause.

Handy Hints

When handing in your application, make sure it is filled out clearly & neatly and ensure you have all of the necessary documents (identification, payslips, income statement).

Ask the owner/agent if they can give you a time/day when a decision is made about whether you have been successful or not.

If you still have not heard by this day, it is O.K to ring the owner/agent and make an enquiry, but try not to ring excessively and ensure you are polite and patient on the phone.

Waiting to hear back, can be frustrating and puts a hold on you making any further applications, but taking your frustration out on the owner/agent can affect your chances of being accepted not only for this property but any other properties you may apply for in the future