first time
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Moving out of home for the first time? Here are a few things you should know to get the most out of your first renting experience.

Whether you’re moving out as a full-time worker, a student, or you’ve had to break free of a tricky situation, finding and moving into your first rental property is a big deal.

Here are a few things you should know about renting for the first time in Australia.

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Know how rental leases work

Above all, your lease is the most important document to wrap your head around. The lease is a legally-binding agreement and it will define how long you’ll be renting the property, how much you pay the landlord/property manager each week, and what your responsibilities are.

Once you’ve signed a lease, you’re bound to agree on everything that is set out in it for the period of your agreement. For that reason, it’s incredibly important that you read it thoroughly. If you breach the conditions of your lease, your landlord will be within their right to issue you with notices and eventually evict you.

Know what your tenant rights are

It’s not all responsibility when you rent. In fact, as a tenant, you’re entitled to several basic rights. For example, you have a right to privacy, which means your landlord cannot show up at your place unannounced to pester you.

Your landlord also can’t force you to pay for things like general repairs and maintenance. The tricky thing with tenancy rights in Australia is that different states/territories have different laws around your rights. To find out what the laws are in your state/territory:

Know what a bond is and where RentBond can help

Your rental bond is an amount of money you’ll pay at the start of your tenancy. The bond money provides financial security for your landlord in the event you breach your lease terms. In the event you damage the property during your lease, the landlord can decide to keep the bond and use it for repairs and cleaning when you vacate.

For most properties, the most a bond can cost is the equivalent of four weeks rent. This article explains more about the cost of rental bonds. If you don’t have the money upfront to pay for your rental bond, RentBond can help. RentBond now has a 21-day interest and fee-free period, so if you’re after a short-term lease, the loan won’t attract any interest or fees if you pay it back within 21 days. Here’s more information on RentBond to get you started.

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Know how you can pay the rent

Get to know your Residential Tenancy Agreement to understands how your rent will be paid – the method for paying rent for your property should be stated in the lease. Your tenancy agreement must state the amount of rent, and when it is to be paid. The method of payment (e.g. direct debit) and the place of payment should also be included.

Approved methods could include, but are not limited to an electronic bank transfer, EFTPOS, credit card, cash, cheque, RentPay or deductions from your pay. Here’s more information on some of the more common payment types.

Know where you stand on repairs and maintenance

If something you own is broken or damaged, rather than part of the property itself, check whether this is covered by your contents insurance, also known as renter’s insurance. A great contents insurance policy designed for renters will cover you to repair or replace your belongings after loss or damage that’s caused by fire, storm or flood, theft, and more. You can compare your renter’s contents insurance options on our website.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, your landlord is responsible for keeping the property in a good condition for you to live in. As a tenant, you are responsible for keeping the rental property clean and undamaged.

Understand the importance of your property condition report

Once your application has been accepted and it’s time to move into your new place, you’ll be given a property condition report (PCR) by your landlord or the property management team. It’s important that you go through this report to check for any irregularities against what you see in the property. If you see damage to your property that’s not recorded in the original PCR, note this down.

There is a reason this step is so important: If you don’t claim the damage when you move in, you may be held accountable for it when you choose to vacate your rental property.

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Know when it’s okay to negotiate

Rents aren’t always up for negotiation, but often you won’t know that unless you ask the question of the landlord/property manager. If you find a place you love on, but it pushes you above your budget, talk to the property manager and ask if there’s any room to negotiate the rent. There may not be any flexibility at the time, but it won’t hurt to ask!

Know what not to do without permission

There are some things you should and should not do without permission from the owner. This includes things like making changes to your property (painting walls, for example) and keeping pets.

Look for homes with the amenities you need

It can be tempting to choose a house for its aesthetic appeal over its amenities and utilities. Where possible, avoid giving in to that temptation if you want to rent comfortably. Consider adding filters to your rental search to ensure the properties you’re seeing come with the basics and amenities you need going forward.

Looking to rent? Check out the Blog for more advice and tips on renting.