The successful applicant for a rental property will usually be asked by the agent or landlord to sign a lease, also called a residential tenancy agreement, before they can move in.
A lease is a legal contract between tenants and landlords for which there is no cooling-off period.
There are three common types of leases:
- Short fixed-term lease – a set period of time, up to five years.
- Long fixed-term lease – a set period of time, more than five years. For more information, view our Long-term leases section.
- Periodic lease (‘month by month’) – a tenancy will usually roll over to a periodic lease when their fixed-term lease ends. Normally, when a lease becomes periodic, the tenant does not sign a new lease; however, the terms and conditions of the original agreement still apply. A tenant on a periodic lease does not have to sign a new fixed-term lease, although if they do not sign one they risk the security of their tenancy.
Short-term leases can be written or verbal, however, we recommend using written leases. Landlords and tenants can use our Form 1 - Residential tenancy agreement (Word, 1.5MB).
Long-term leases must be in writing, using either:
Written leases must accurately reflect the wording of these official forms.
Extra terms and conditions may be included, and the agreement must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Where a written lease is used, the agent or landlord must give the tenant(s) an unsigned copy of the lease before asking them to sign. Tenants should always read the lease thoroughly before signing and ask questions if they don’t understand any part of it.
The lease outlines:
- the amount of rent and how it is to be paid
- the length and type of tenancy
- the amount of bond required
- other conditions and rules
- any special terms agreed by the parties.