RENTING

Get Yourself FinLit

Renting

So you’ve decided you’re ready to move out. You’ve started collecting furniture and you’ve found a solid crew you won’t want to kill after a week living under the same roof. Congratulations! But simply deciding to move out is only the first step, you have to convince a real estate agent and landlord that you’re worthy of being rented to as well. It can be a tough gig as a young person, but not impossible – us youngins have been convincing people to rent us their homes for years.

Housemates

If you haven’t got anyone to move in with yet, this isn’t actually a problem. Websites such as Flatmates and various Facebook groups in your area can help you with either finding a property, or finding housemates. Just make sure you write a convincing and kind message to people you’re interested in living with - they’re usually inundated with messages.

Real Estate Agents & Landlords

When you’re looking to rent a property for the first time, sus out some places online or in the paper (old school style) and you’ll see you have two options: renting through a real estate agent or rent privately straight from the owner (aka the landlord). Both have their pros and cons, but the main difference is that it determines who you will be paying and who you will be talking to when it comes to discussing the property.

When you’re going through a real estate agent, they will act on behalf of the landlord – so you don’t have to deal with the landlord directly. Your landlord will be like a ghost, always around but never seen and potentially somewhat terrifying. You’re not allowed to talk to them, and they’re not allowed to rock up and chat to you unless they’ve provided forewarning.

If you rent from the landlord privately, then you can call up the landlord with any issues, however they still generally need to warn you if they want to come around (depending on the private contract you’ve signed, so read the fine print!)

So, depending on who you’ve rented through, you’ll either be calling up the real estate agent or the landlord if you’re locked out and your housemates are out of town and you don’t want to break the window. Or when there’s a problem in the property that needs fixing- like the ceiling caving in or something.

Rental Agreement

Your rental agreement is a pile of paper that states all the things you’re signing up for- like a roof over your head and the fact you will pay your bills and repair anything you damage. You need to sign one of these babies in order to move into a place. Yup, this is a Serious Adult Contract. Actually read all of those terms and conditions and question everything. If you’re signing your life away for a year, that’s a full year. Trying to get out of a rental agreement before the agreed date can be difficult, and usually you will need a good reason to do so. Different contracts have varying rules on how you can leave the agreement and how much notice you need to give if you want to move out, which is why it is so important to read the fine print! Cancelling the agreement may also cost you some money, so remember to find out all the details before making a decision.

Bond

A bond is a sum of money you pay before you move in to a new rental property just in case things go haywire and you do some serious damage and then run away. You know how you lose your deposit if you suddenly cancel a hotel room or holiday? It’s like that, except your cancellation looks like a hole in the wall. You’ll pay your bond to your landlord or real estate agent.

The bond amount is decided by the landlord or real estate agent and is usually the total of a few weeks of rent. Each state has its own laws outlining the maximum bond allowed to be taken, so jump online and check if you think your bond is too much. Housemates tend to split the bond amount equally between them, so have a sit down to ensure you all agree with how the bond will be paid between you.

You will get the bond back when you leave the property, unless you’ve damaged the place and there’s vomit stains on the carpet and red wine on the walls. If you don’t fix that when it happens or when you leave and you lose your bond, you might find it difficult to be accepted by another rental property in the future. It’s kind of like a credit rating, but for renting.

If one of your housemates trashes the house and you had nothing to do with it, you’ll lose your share of the bond too. It is the collective responsibility of the house, which is why it’s important to be particular with who you’re going to move in with. If the damage becomes a serious issue, you can take the person to the Local Court, but it’s usually a better idea to simply agree to a list of terms with your housemates before you move in together to avoid any awkwardness or disagreements around damages.

Bills

The bills will arrive in the mail or your inbox like magic. Water, electricity, gas… sometimes you have to pay all your bills, sometimes your landlord will pay a few - each property has their own agreements. It’s probably a good idea for all your housemates to share responsibility of bills, so they always get paid on time, and it’s usually a good idea to get these sorted straight away.

House Inspections

Inspections

Where your landlord or a representative come to check that you’re taking care of your rental property and nothing’s broken or posing a hazard - are a pretty routine part of renting. This means you better get cleaning! It’s worth it. You’ll thank yourself for having the excuse to get your whole house off their arses to actually scrub the bathroom, even if the inspection only takes 5 minutes. And don’t worry, notice usually has to be given before your landlord can rock up, so you should have plenty of time to wash the dishes, right?

Your rights

Your rights as a tenant are extremely important! If you think your bond is being unfairly compromised or your landlord keeps rocking up unannounced, this site has the resources you need. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights!

This information is intended to be general in nature. Where in doubt always seek assistance from tenancy bodies or other professionals.
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