Once you have decided where to study in Australia, your next step is to find accommodation that suits your needs. If you are an independent person, a private rental could be the perfect option. Living in a private rental is also an excellent way to fully immerse yourself in Australian culture, as living with locals will definitely broaden your horizons in your new city.
There are lots of things to consider when looking for private accommodation such as your budget, the location and whether you want to move into an existing share house or get your own place. Here are our top tips for finding a private rental.
Finding a new private rental
If you plan to live alone, or you already have a group of friends you would like to move in with, securing a new rental is a great idea. Applying for a new private rental can require more time and paperwork than moving into an existing share house, but it will also give you more control over your living situation.
Where to look
Check the individual real estate websites in your city, as well as realestate.com.au or domain.com.au. On these websites, you can filter your search according to your preferences, such as property type, number of bedrooms and price. To avoid complicated or unfair rental arrangements, stay away from unregulated private rentals that are not arranged through a real estate agent.
What to look out for
When you start your accommodation search, it is important to consider the highest rent you are willing to pay and what type of household you and the other housemates want to live in. Some people prefer an apartment with ensuite bathrooms, while others like to have a large backyard. Some people want a quiet, tidy, calm house while others want a more casual, noisy, social household. It is best to agree on this before you are all living together.
Make sure to double-check the bond and lease conditions before you apply for a rental. Most will require four weeks’ rent as a bond as well as the first fortnight’s rent when you move in.
A landlord or owner has the right to choose the most suitable applicant for their property, but it is illegal to refuse to lease a property to a tenant because of their gender, race, age or religion.
Also be aware of rental scams, where scammers advertise rental properties on well-known property websites, for which they have no right to rent. They scam you by asking for a month’s bond and rent to secure the property. Find out more about rental scams here.
How to apply
Make sure to get all your documents together before you apply for your new house. Check the real estate agent’s website for the full list of documents required – the landlord or agent will probably need copies of your personal identification, like a driver’s licence, as well as employment details and rental references.
If you do not have a rental history in Australia, you will need to provide evidence that you can pay the rent, which could include an employment contract, payslips or character references. You may also be asked to provide the name and signature of a guarantor who will be legally responsible for paying the rent if for some reason you are not able to pay. Be honest in your application and give as much detail as possible to have the best chance of securing a house.
Finding a room in a share house
Finding a room in an existing share house can be easier than applying for a new place, especially if you a looking for a short-term stay. Moving into an existing share house also often comes with less financial responsibility, depending on whether you are added to the lease by the landlord or not.
You will need to be careful about who you choose to live with. Some share houses are a good fit for relaxed, social people looking to make new friends and have new experiences. Other share houses are quieter, with each housemate living more independently from one another.
Where to look
Check out websites such as flatmatefinders.com.au or flatmates.com.au in your city, and look up share house groups on social media. Your educational institution will probably have a share house Facebook group as well as the local Buy, Swap and Sell group, so ask around to find the best place to start looking. Also, let everyone know on your social media networks that you are looking for a room – friends of friends are always looking for a new housemate.
What to look out for
Before you move into a room in a share house, you should check out the room and meet your potential housemates to get a feel for how you would get along. You will need to adapt to the current housemates’ way of doing things, so ask yourself what kind of environment you want to live in. Are you a social person, or do you prefer more time alone? Ask the current housemates about house rules and whether they share meals or like to host parties.
Before you sign anything, find out about the bond and lease conditions set by the landlord. If you have to pay a bond, make sure you ask for a receipt to keep as evidence.
How to apply
The process of applying for a room in a share house varies, and some are more formal than others. Again, you will need your ID, employment details and rental references.
If your name is added to the lease, you will be responsible for paying the rent if one of the other housemates fails to pay, so you must make clear what your obligations are before you move in. Make sure you sign some form of agreement with your other housemates and the landlord to establish your financial responsibilities. You can find a template on flatmates.com.au.
Learn more about your rental rights and responsibilities in your state
If you have a renting question or problem in Victoria, visit Consumer Affairs Victoria – International Students or call on 1300 55 81 81.