Renting for the first time can be exciting and there are things you can do at every stage to help make the process go smoothly. Use the checklist below to know where you stand and know what to do before you start looking, when you apply for a rental property and during your agreement. When you’re ready to move out, use the moving out checklist.
Before you start looking
Having a plan before you start looking is important and can save you time and money later on.
- Know your rights and responsibilities.
- Work out a budget and know what you can afford.
- Know what property features you need based on your study, work and lifestyle.
e.g. location, size, parking, public transport accessibility.
- Think about the type of rental options that would be best for you e.g. designated student accommodation, a private rental or a homestay.
- Have copies of documents and information you will need for the application. This usually includes: identification, evidence of income, and contact details of a personal reference.
Applying for a rental property and signing the agreement
Once you find a rental you like, you’ll need to apply for it. You may be competing with other people so it is best to put in your application as quickly as possible. The property manager/owner will decide whether your application will be approved. If you are approved, you will have to sign an agreement and at this time the property manager/owner may ask you to pay rent in advance (your first rental payment) and/or a bond.
If you are joining an existing agreement (such as in a sharehouse) the property manager/owner will still need to approve your application. Before signing the agreement, confirm whether you are a co-tenant or a sub-tenant. If you are a sub-tenant, the sub-letting fact sheet outlines rules and responsibilities. If you are a co-tenant, you will be jointly responsible for the terms of your tenancy with the other tenants.
- Read the agreement and before signing:
- ask questions on things you don’t understand
- be clear about the cost of the rent and what it includes (e.g. electricity, water, furniture, yard maintenance)
- know you can negotiate the length of the agreement (i.e. 6, 8, 12 months, or another period)
- know you can negotiate any additional or special terms in the agreement
- confirm any promised repairs have been completed or have it in writing they will be completed.
- Confirm you have not been asked to pay more than two weeks rent in advance for a periodic agreement, or one month in advance for a fixed term agreement.
- Pay the bond. This cannot be more than four weeks rent, unless your rent is more than $500 per week (rooming agreements) or more than $700 per week (general tenancy agreement).
- Lodge your bond with the RTA via the Bond Lodgement Web Service or the paper Bond lodgement (Form 2). You can alternatively pay the bond to the property manager/owner who must give you a receipt. They will then need to lodge it with the RTA within 10 days. You will get an RTA notification once lodged.
- If you move into a house, unit, or townhouse, you need to be given a copy of:
- If you move into rooming accommodation, you need to be given a copy of:
- Fill out the Entry condition report or Condition report and return a copy to the property manager/owner within specified timeframes. Take photos to provide further evidence.
- Consider home contents insurance to cover belongings in case of theft, fire and natural disasters or a burst internal pipe. The property owner’s building insurance (if they have it) will not cover your personal belongings.
During the agreement
If you have an issue with the property manager/owner during the tenancy, try to resolve it by discussing it directly with them. If the issue remains unresolved, you may issue a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11). You can also access the RTA’s free dispute resolution service for assistance. You are still required to pay rent while you resolve any issues.
Keep the RTA informed of any changes to personal details including email, address, phone numbers and bank details as this is important for your bond refund at the end of your agreement. You can do this via the Update Your Details Web Service or the Update your details form.
For more information contact the Residential Tenancies Authority.
Accessing RTA forms
The RTA’s forms can be obtained electronically or in person by contacting us.
Other languages: You can access a free interpreter service by calling the RTA on 1300 366 311 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.00pm).