19 July 2022

In a tough rental market, tenancy agreements are best negotiated from the start

| Katrina Condie
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Aerial view of Woden

Securing a rental property in Canberra can be difficult, but negotiating the terms of a tenancy agreement at the start can help ensure a smooth leasing process. Photo: Region Media.

Tough competition means securing a rental property right now can be tricky, so it may be tempting for a prospective tenant to sign an agreement, even if it may not suit their particular needs and then try and change it later.

However, a leading Canberra property manager says the best time for negotiating those terms with the landlord is at the beginning of the tenancy agreement.

Independent Property Group team leader Sofia Ligeros has helped countless landlords and tenants negotiate an agreement that suits everyone and says finding a rental home can be difficult, so being upfront and getting the terms right from the start is more important than ever.

Sofia says, even in a booming market where tenants may be hesitant to make requests, it’s a lot easier to negotiate a tenancy agreement at the start than changing it partway through.

“If you approach it at the start, it becomes part of the original agreement,” she explains.

“It’s a pretty competitive market at the moment, so the more information prospective tenants can provide on their application, the better.”

Sofia says tenants and landlords need to agree on the amount of rent, the length of time they’re allowed to live in the property, and what happens if the tenant wants to move or if the owner wants to sell.

Tenants may also want to add approval for a payment frequency, while the landlord could include things like excluding access to part of the property or setting rental increases in long-term agreements.

“It’s a good time to be a landlord as they can afford to be choosy and go with the most stable option.”

If either the tenant or landlord wants to add an additional term, Sofia says the negotiation is easier if both parties benefit from the changes.

“It is common in long leases, which may last for two to three years, to include a rent increase as an additional term. This is not legislatively allowed in a standard 12-month rental agreement,” Sofia said.

“By adding in a term that the rent will go up by a set amount every 12 months, landlords aren’t falling behind the market rates and the tenant gets the added security of having a long lease. It’s a win-win.”

Sofia says any additional terms should always be in writing.

“If there’s a dispute, written agreements will be more sympathetically viewed by the Tribunal,” he added.

The law on residential tenancies can be complex, so if you’re not sure whether you can legally add or change a term in your residential tenancy agreement, chat to your property manager.

If you’re looking for a property manager or seeking a home to rent in Canberra, the team at Independent Property Group can help.


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William Newby9:24 am 13 Jan 22

“Negotiate”?! No leasing agents in Canberra return calls or emails let alone negotiate, there is absolutely zero professional courtesy amongst these clowns, and you suggest negotiating?!
Clearly the author has zero experience finding a rental in Canberra.
You take what ever you are given and you keep your trap shut, that’s how it works.
Things here are so bad that when we recently offered a lady from Melbourne a job with us, after 2 months of looking for somewhere to live she gave up and rejected the job offer.
“Negotiate” ha..

Was this meant to be a satire piece?

Especially at this time of the year, there is no negotiation in a tenancy – just a diktat of this is the agreement and you either sign or don’t get the property.

Maybe things are changing, but I’ve seen precious little evidence that they are.

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