Got a place? Yay! What to do next
- You’ll need to sign a lease and pay your first payment – usually a bond of four weeks rent plus two weeks rent in advance.
- You’ll need to organise connections for utilities and other services before you move in if you want power, gas, phone etc.
- Get your mail redirected to your new address by filling in a form at your local post office and paying a fee – it takes a few days to process.
You’ll be given a condition report detailing any existing damage to the property – go through it CAREFULLY, and write down ANY extra points you notice, like window or tile cracks, dents in walls or doors, holes from picture hooks, stains on carpet etc. (plus take photos if possible).
Otherwise you might have to pay to fix stuff you didn’t even do when you move out.
Keep your lease, condition report, appliance purchase and bill receipts, copies of maintenance requests and anything else that relates to your home in a folder labelled ‘house’ so you can find the info when you need it.
Rules for renters
There are basic rules for renters, although the specifics vary a bit, depending on where you live – contact your local tenant authority for specifics (web search it or see useful websites for links).
Overall, most landlords and agents expect the following:
* go to print these for a printable checklist of this and more
Checklist 7 – Tenants’ responsibilities
Tenants need to:
- Pay the rent (on time…yep, sadly, beers come second)
- Keep the place clean (or get someone else to…Mum? Dad? Anyone?)
- Tell the landlord or real estate agent if you cause any damage (and pay to fix it)
- Tell the landlord or agent if something needs repair
- Do not make changes, like putting in nails or picture hooks, without permission
- Pay for excess water
- Do not use the premises for illegal stuff (so, no hydro set-up in the cupboard then)
- Do not interfere with your neighbours’ peace and privacy
Remember you’re renting someone else’s property, and you’ll be responsible for paying for damage anyone does to it during the term of your lease or contract. Plus, you legally have to respect your neighbours’ peace and privacy.
Soooo, keep any parties manageable and only invite friends who won’t trash the place.
If possible, tell your neighbours beforehand and keep the noise down after 10pm.
DO NOT put it on social media or you could end up with thousands of gate crashers, bucket-loads of damage, pissed-off police and a massive debt.
If you want to end your lease early, you could be up for serious costs – including rent until someone else rents the property or your lease runs out.
You might also have to pay for other stuff like a letting fee, tenancy application checks and advertising expenses.
The best thing to do is to talk to your real estate agent or landlord first, to find out what it’ll cost you before you make a decision.
Checklist 8 – Landlords’ responsibilities
Your landlord needs to:
- Refund any deposits or application fees if they don’t start a tenancy agreement with you (or deduct them from rent if you move in)
- Provide clean and reasonable premises
- Maintain and repair the premises as necessary
- Provide and maintain locks
- Respect your right to privacy and the peace and quiet afforded to any homeowner (so not pop in unannounced for inspections, for example)
- Lodge your bond with the appropriate authority within the appropriate time
- Charge reasonable bond and rent-in-advance (usually less than one month’s total rent for bond, and two weeks rent-in-advance)
- Provide you with signed inspection sheets and information sheets
- Not charge you for direct debit payments, or rent payment cards
- Pay rates and land taxes, and water charges except the excess amount you use (you have to pay your utility charges if there is a meter to measure your usage)
- Keep records of the rent received and provide you with receipts
You have every right to ask for your money back if you have.
Get a representative of the landlord or agent to sign and date stamp your written request, or send it by registered mail, and include copies of receipts and application forms if you have them.
Get further help from your local tenants’ union or residential tenants’ authority (see useful websites for renters for links and contact info).
Living in student housing?
If it’s affiliated with an educational institution, like an on-campus college, you’ll need to get help and advice from your student housing office.
Need legal help or advice?
Most countries have some form of legal advice and/or assistance for people on a lower income.
Try useful websites for renters for links to tenants’ organisations and cheap or free legal services in Australia, or web-search “low income legal help” in your local area.