As an international student in Australia, you have the same rights as every other tenant when it comes to renting a property. These rights are designed to support a safe and comfortable living environment. Let’s explore them.
When you rent a property through a registered real estate agent, they will follow all the necessary steps to make sure you are protected legally.
If you join an existing share house or rent directly from the landlord (private rental), knowing your legal rights as a tenant will result in a more positive experience.
When searching for private rental accommodation, double check the address and attend an advertised ‘open for inspection’, or arrange a time to visit the property, to check the accommodation and local area in-person.
When applying for a private rental or joining an existing share house, confirm the identity of the landlord (owner) and check that the person listing the vacancy has the legal right to rent out the room or the property, before you pay any money.
A rental bond is a security deposit paid at the start of the tenancy. Your bond money should be held by your state or territory’s rental authority, arranged by using the official forms. This will legally protect you and your bond money.
The bond will then be paid back to you when you leave the property, unless you still owe rental payments or if there is some damage that you are responsible for.
Please note: The only fees you need to pay are the bond and four weeks’ rent in advance after you sign the lease (contract). You do not need to pay an upfront fee for things like a “background check” or “inspection fee” before you move in.
Your landlord or real estate agent responsible for the property (property manager) must fill out a condition report before you move in. They will then give you a copy so you can check that the report is accurate.
You can make any changes to the condition report and add any notes on noticeable damage to the house, fittings or fixtures, including marks and scratches, and anything that is dirty - inside and outside of the property.
Carefully check the condition of the property as soon as possible after signing the lease and receiving the keys. Checking the condition closely before you move your furniture in will give you a clearer view of any existing damage, or ‘wear and tear’.
When you are satisfied that the report is accurate and complete, you must sign, date and return the report promptly, usually within five business days of moving in. Please allow time for delivery if returning the form by post.
Once received, the agent or landlord must give you two paper or electronic copies of the signed condition report. Both the tenant and the landlord must each keep a copy each of the report until the end of the rental agreement period.
Here are some of the most important rights that you should be aware of once you move in.
As a tenant, you have the right to live in a property that is safe and in good repair. Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property is free from hazards such as mold (caused by a structural problem such a a water leak), asbestos and pests, and that all appliances and fixtures are working.
The real estate agent or landlord will arrange to inspect the property every 3-6 months. Legally, they must give you at least seven days' notice before entering your home. You can decide whether you are there at the inspection or not.
You have the right to end your tenancy at any time. There might be two reasons for this:
Your landlord may also have the right to end your tenancy early. For example, they might want to sell or renovate the home. Check your rental agreement documents to see what the terms are.
When your agreement period comes to an end, the landlord needs to give you 30 days' notice if they do not want to renew the lease.
If you believe you have been discriminated against by your landlord, you can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission for advice or one of the legal bodies listed below.
As well as rights, you also have some legal responsibilities as a tenant. These include keeping the property in a reasonable condition, paying your rent on time and following the terms of your lease agreement.
If you do not meet your responsibilities under the agreement, the landlord or real estate agent can give you a 14-day termination notice and you will need to move out within those 14 days.
If you believe your rights have been violated, contact the rental rights body in your state or territory:
Happy house hunting!