There are so many bits of paper involved in renting a house. Some of these can end up being worth hundreds of dollars to you, so it’s definitely worthwhile knowing what to keep and what you can throw. If there is a chance that you might lose an important document, scan or photograph it, and email it to yourself for safe storage.

Contracts and Leases
You should receive a lease or contract outlining the conditions of the home you want to rent. Never sign a lease/contract until you have visited the property yourself. You cannot rely on photos alone, as sometimes false or old photos can be used by property owners. The lease/contract should be written in English and signed by the landlord. It is also important that you know what that person’s full name is, and where you (or the Sheriff) can contact them. Please read your lease/contract BEFORE you sign it. If you would like an SRC caseworker to read it for you, just email a copy to help@src.usyd.edu.au Regardless of whether you do not understand or agree to a clause in the lease/contract, if you have signed it, you will be bound by its conditions. You should always keep a copy of your contract/lease.

Receipts
You should receive a receipt for anything you pay to your landlord or housemates. This includes bond, rent, bills, deposits, etc. Your receipt should have the amount that you paid, what it was for, the date, and the home address. The landlord/housemate should also sign it. Again, it must be in English. If you have paid by a bank 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.

Condition Report
The Condition Report is what you and the landlord both agree as being the condition of the property at the time that you moved in. If there is any 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 for you to take photos of the property (e.g. anything broken, damaged, or dirty) and email them to your landlord. This will “timestamp” those photos and will allow you to refer to them at a later date to show that whatever damage you are being blamed for, was already there when you moved in. You should always keep a copy of the Condition Report and the photos.

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, and exactly what was said. If you have a telephone conversation with the landlord it is a good idea to send a follow up email confirming what was said during the phone conversation. It’s a good idea to keep these on your email account.

The SRC has caseworkers trained in many different aspects of housing law. You can email your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au, or if you prefer a face-to-face appointment call 9660 5222 to book a suitable time.