Fixed Term Vs Periodic Leases: What Landlords Need To Know

8 August 2020

As an investor, it pays to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to tenants.

Once you’ve made a decision to invest, the next step is finding the right tenant and negotiating the terms of the lease agreement.

There are two main types of lease agreements in Western Australia – fixed term and periodic. ‘Here’s what you need to know about each of these agreements and how they function:

The ‘traditional’ fixed term lease agreement

The vast majority of lease agreements will start out as fixed term, generally signing the tenant up for 6 or 12 months.

If you plan to raise the rent during this time, you’ll need to include these details in the original lease agreement. Before this increase can take effect, you’ll also need to give tenants 60 days’ notice.

If you don’t include information about rent increases or rent reviews you can’t ask for an increase.

Can tenants get out of fixed term leases?

While a fixed term lease can limit your ability to increase rent, it does protect you if your tenant decides to break the lease early. Your tenant will be required to pay the penalties or alternative arrangements can be agreed to my mutual negotiation.

Periodic lease agreements

Once the fixed term is up, tenants automatically transfer to a periodic agreement unless a new fixed term agreement is put in place.

A tenant on a periodic lease is required to follow all the same rules as in their original agreement, but they are able to vacate the property at any time, as long as they give 21 days’ notice.

It’s important to know about this automatic switch to a periodic or ‘rolling’ lease agreement as a landlord. Property managers who are familiar with this process can sometimes fail to communicate the change to landlords, and this can cause huge headaches if a tenant decides to take advantage of the 21-day notice period.

Why use a periodic agreement?

Periodic leases are clearly less stable from a landlord’s point of view and can cause stress for tenants as well. The flexibility of the periodic agreement means that you have to give 60 days’ notice if you wish to gain vacant possession of your property or 30 days’ if the property sells during this time.  A periodic lease may be beneficial for both the owner or the tenant if either have plans to sell or buy and are comfortable with the flexible arrangement.

The bottom line when it comes to leases is: take the time to read the fine print and clarify any queries with your property manager. Knowing the rules will go a long way toward avoiding difficulties with tenants when it comes time to negotiating a new agreement.

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