There are so many bits of paper involved in renting a house. Some of these can end up being worth thousands of dollars to you, so it’s definitely worthwhile knowing about what to keep and what to throw. Scan everything in, and email them to yourself, so you always have a copy that is time stamped.

Contracts and Leases
You should get a lease (tenancy) or contract (sub tenant, boarder or lodger) outlining the conditions of the home you want to rent. This lease/contract should be written in English and signed by the landlord. It is also important that you know your landlord full name, and where you (or the Sheriff) can contact them. Please read your lease/contract BEFORE you sign it, as you will be bound by its conditions. You should definitely keep a copy of your contract/lease.

Receipts
You should get a receipt for any cash or bank cheques that you give to the landlord. Your receipt should have the amount that you paid, why you paid it (e.g., bond, rent for February, etc.), and what the address of the home is. The landlord should also sign it. Again, it must be in English. If you have paid by electronic transfer you should still ask for a receipt. There are some situations where the landlord is not required to give you a receipt, but there is no harm in asking. You should definitely keep all of your receipts. It is not necessary to keep the bills themselves, after you have paid them and received a receipt.

Condition Report
The Condition Report is what you agree, with the landlord, as being the condition of the property at the time that you moved in. If there is damage to the property, beyond reasonable wear and tear, you will be liable to pay for its repair, unless it is noted in the Condition Report. In addition to the Condition Report it is a good idea to take photos of the property (e.g., walls, floor, windows, etc), showing any broken or dirty items, and email them to your landlord. Do this within 7 days of moving in.

General Communication
It is a good idea to email your communications to the landlord. This will give you a record of the time and date that you spoke, plus what was said. If you have a telephone conversation with the landlord it is a good idea to send a follow up email that might reiterate the outcome of your phone conversation.

Bond
Always make sure you get a receipt when you pay a bond or a security deposit. If you did not get a receipt, it will be difficult to prove that you paid the money. After all, why would you hand a large sum of money to someone you do not know or trust, without getting a receipt. If you transferred the money electronically, or paid by cheque or money order, there might be a paper trail, but a receipt is always better. If you paid by cash in front of someone else, you might be able to ask them to be a witness for you, but again, this is not as good as having a receipt. Rental bond is meant to be lodged at the Rental Bond Board, who will give you an electronic receipt. If you do not receive this receipt within a couple of weeks of moving in, you could ask your landlord if they have lodged your bond, to encourage them to do so. Please note that only tenancies require bond to be lodged.

The SRC has caseworkers trained in many different aspects of accommodation laws. You can email your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au.