Finding long term accommodation may feel challenging at times as Sydney’s rental market is competitive. It’s important to:
- Know your budget
- Have an idea of the location you want to live
- Know the type of place you want to live in
- Be prepared to apply for private rental properties after you have inspected them with copies of identification, reference letters, proof of income and/or bank statements
Plan your budget
Upfront costs to renting your own private unfurnished house/unit include a refundable security bond (maximum four weeks rent), setting up utilities, purchasing/renting a fridge, furniture, washing machine, bedding, linen, kitchen items and food). You will most likely be required to pay rent two weeks in advance via direct debit from an Australian bank account or by online transferral. Avoid paying in cash. If you do pay in cash make sure you get a receipt.
Searching for a place
Use the following search tools to help you find accommodation:
- UNSW Study Stays www.studystays.unsw.edu.au
- External accommodation websites:
When you have narrowed down a list of properties you can then plan your inspections. The information below outlines private and shared accommodation options.
Inspecting a private property
Property inspections normally occur on Saturdays where the property will open to the general public to view. Agents sometime offer a midweek inspection as well. If no inspection times are listed online, phone the agent or landlord to arrange an inspection.
Open inspections usually last around 10 – 30 minutes. During this time you will be able to see inside the property and ask the agent or landlord any questions you may have. You will also be able to collect a tenancy application form if you want to apply for the property. Some real estate agents allow you to complete a tenancy application form online in advance of the inspection.
As inspection times are very short make a list of all the properties you wish to view and plan your route to each one. Leave plenty of time for public transport or parking.
The NSW Fair Trading office also provides information before signing a tenancy agreement.
Application formats can vary. Generally you will be required to fill out your personal details, employment history, provide personal references and '100 points of Identification'. 100 points can usually be made up by copies of passport/NSW driver's licence, bank statement, proof of income and birth certificate. Agents will provide a list of items that are considered in the 100 points of identification. Once your application is submitted you will usually hear back from the agent/landlord within 48 hours.
If your tenancy application is approved you may be asked to pay a holding fee. The landlord can ask for a holding fee only if your application has been approved. The holding fee should not be more than one week’s rent and the landlord must give you a receipt. If you sign the tenancy agreement the fee must go towards the rent. If, for whatever reason, you decide not to rent the place, the landlord may keep the holding fee. If you pay a holding fee the landlord must not enter into a tenancy agreement with any other person within 7 days of payment. If this happens the landlord should return the holding fee to you.
Inspecting a room in a shared housing arrangement
Credit: Redfern Legal Centre, source: www.sharehousing.org
If you decide to move into an already established share house, it’s a good idea to ask friends/family if they know of any places as well as checking the ads in newspapers, on websites and local notice boards. In most cases, phone numbers will be given in share accommodation ads so you can phone to make initial enquiries and check that the room is still available. On the phone, ask the essential questions from your list of needs and wants. If you like the sound of a place, you’ll then need to visit the property to meet the housemates and check the room.
When looking at your room, take time to check that it is comfortable and has everything you need. It is a good idea to draw up a list of needs and wants beforehand so you don’t miss anything. Take a friend who can ask the questions you might forget.
When you meet the housemates, it is a good idea to ask questions about the household and how it is run. Some of these questions may sound very picky but it’s the only way to decide whether you really are compatible with the rest of the household. And it’s always better to find out the worst now rather than later.
You should also ask about the legal arrangements in the house. Is your name going to be on the lease? If not, who is on the lease? Who will you be paying bond and rent to? Who deals with the landlord?
Sample questions to ask potential housemates
- Does everyone buy their food together and if so, how much do they contribute every week?
- What foods do they like/not like? Is it a vegetarian household?
- What are the arrangements with phone, electricity, gas and the internet?
- What do the other housemates do? Are they students, workers, or travellers?
- Do people smoke in the house?
- Is there a cleaning roster?
- Is it ok to have friends/partners over?
- What are their music tastes?
- Is anyone religious/anti-religion?
- Do people mind loud music?
- What are the neighbours like?
- Is the landlord/real estate agent ok?
- What are people’s viewpoints on sexuality?
After the interview
After the interview, the people in the house will usually tell you they’ll be in touch: if they never ring back, it’s a good indication that you weren’t high on the compatibility rating. Just keep looking, you’ll find something! Consider each offer carefully. If you accept, then you will need to make your moving plans and get your money organised.
When you move into an established share house you will most likely be required to pay bond to the out-going person. If the share house is covered by a tenancy agreement make sure you protect yourself by asking to be included on the lease and to have your name included on the property’s bond form held with the Renting Services of NSW Fair Trading.
DISCLAIMER: Off-campus accommodation is privately owned and is not controlled by the University. Links to other websites are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement.