In Australia, there is a huge range of accommodation options available to international students, from homestay to renting a place on your own. Most of the time, living in accommodation is a fantastic experience, but unfortunately problems can occur from time to time.
In a recent study conducted by the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney, it was found that international students are regularly being exploited when it comes to renting in share houses. Over half of the international students surveyed encountered illegal or poor living conditions, including:
- accommodation that is unsafe to live in,
- paying in advance for accommodation that does not exist,
- intimidation or harassment by a landlord or another tenant,
- landlords moving extra people into the accommodation without the student’s consent,
- sudden increases in rent in the middle of a rental period, and
- an unfair eviction.
Most commonly, problems were experienced by international students who organised their share house accommodation through social media, such as Facebook or WeChat, or websites such as Gumtree or Flatmates.com.au. The report concluded that exploitative housing situations can impact international students’ emotional, physical and financial wellbeing, and can also seriously affect their studies. You can read more about this report here and here.
Remember that as an international student, you have the same rights as a local resident, and you should not feel unsafe or uncomfortable in your new home. We’ve outlined some steps you can take to avoid issues while renting in Australia and keep yourself safe. You can also read our guide to some of the most common accommodation scams, and hear from an international student who shared his experience.
If you feel that you are experiencing any of the problems outlined above in your accommodation, or for more information on your rental rights, contact the following organisations for advice:
ACT – Tenants’ Advice Service