Many students move out of home and seek rental accommodation for the first time during their studies. This page walks you through the four main stages of renting – before you rent, starting a tenancy, during and ending a tenancy.
Before you rent
Think about your needs. It’s important to pick a rental property that meets your lifestyle, study, and work requirements. Some things to consider include:
- your budget - make sure you factor in other costs in addition to the rent, like bills and internet
- distance to your place of study/work
- access to public transport, shops and amenities.
Use the RTA’s property checklist for help deciding if a place is right for you.
Think about what type of rental best suits your circumstances. Types of rentals for students include:
- purpose build student accommodation such as:
- on campus accommodation, which will be either on campus or nearby. Meals and other services may be provided as part of the rent.
- independently owned and operated student rooming accommodation. This often includes shared kitchens, bathrooms and other facilities.
- private rental properties or rooms. Options include:
- renting a room in an existing sharehouse
- renting a property with friends
- renting a property on your own.
- homestay programs. These involve renting a room in a private home, usually with a family in the local area. Meals and other services may be provided as part of the rent.
Look out for rental scams. Read our article on protecting yourself from rental scams to find out what you should look out for.
Starting a tenancy
Once you find a place you like, make sure you are clear about how much the rent is and what it includes (e.g. electricity, water costs, furniture, yard maintenance). Before you move into the property or pay any money, ask questions and view the proposed agreement. The moving in checklist for new renters provides a list of things to consider at the start of your tenancy.
Signing a tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement or lease is a legally binding document which outlines the terms of your rental. It’s important you understand it and read it carefully before signing. There are different types of tenancy agreements for different rental accommodation:
- general tenancies: where you rent the whole property (usually a unit, house or townhouse) and are responsible for the whole premises. If you and your flatmates have signed as co-tenants, you are jointly responsible for ensuring the rent is paid in full - not just for paying your portion of the rent.
- rooming accommodation: where you rent the room only and have shared common areas such as kitchen and bathroom. You will most likely also have house rules to follow. Most purpose-built student accommodation is rooming accommodation.
It’s also important to understand if you are entering into a fixed-term or periodic rental agreement.
- Fixed-term tenancy agreements have a set start and end date. Your tenancy end date may be several weeks or months after your semester ends. There can be penalties for ending a fixed-term lease early - so if the length of the lease isn’t right for you, try to negotiate a change before you sign the agreement
- Periodic agreements have a start date and run for no specific length of time. These agreements do not have an end date.
If you rent a unit or townhouse, you will need to comply with the by-laws that are part of the agreement. Similarly, if you are renting a room, the house rules must be followed.
You should also read through any special terms in the agreement. These are extra terms which are added to a standard tenancy agreement to clarify rules around things such as keeping pets, maintenance, and water charging. If you don’t understand or don’t agree with some of the terms, you can ask questions and try to negotiate a change.
Paying a rental bond
A rental bond is security money paid at the start of the tenancy and lodged with the RTA. It’s not compulsory for the property manager/owner to request a bond, but it is common practice. Bonds must be lodged with the RTA.
You can either pay and lodge the rental bond directly to the RTA, via the Bond Lodgement Web Service or bond lodgement paper form, or pay it to the property manager/owner to lodge on your behalf.
If the property manager/owner takes a bond, they must give you a receipt and lodge it with the RTA within 10 days. You will get an official notification from the RTA when the bond is lodged. Find out more on the rental bond page.
Once the agreement has been signed, and you’ve paid the bond and first payment of the rent, you will be given the keys and can move in. The property manager/owner must prepare, sign and give you a copy of the Entry condition report at the start of the tenancy for you to complete.
In the report, the property manager/owner will indicate if each item on the list is clean, undamaged and working. You can agree or disagree with the condition of the items by including your own comments in the report received. A copy of the report must be returned to the property manager/owner within the agreed timeframes. It is also a good idea to take photos as further evidence to support your comments on the Entry condition report.