ACCOMODATION – BEFORE YOU MOVE IN

Choosing Your Home

When choosing your home, you should consider the following:

COST – You should not be paying more than 50% of your income on rent. Consider all of your other ongoing expenses and potential emergency expenses to calculate what you can afford.

LOCATION – If you have a car, check whether parking is available, or if not check with a maps site to see how long your commute to Uni will be. Factor in the cost and time taken to travel, when deciding what you can afford. Also visit the area to see how loud the passing planes or roadworks are.

CONDITION – Inspect the home, looking for things like rodents or pests (look at the inside edges of the kitchen cupboard doors for cockroach poo and small holes in the bottom of walls or cupboards), mould, water pressure, and general cleanliness of the home.

Scams

There are lots of housing scams designed to steal money, especially from international students. Do not sign an agreement without inspecting the property first. Do not transfer money to an overseas account, or use a money transfer service like Western Union. Remember that if a deal on accommodation seems too good to be true, there is a very high likelihood that it is a scam.

What Type Of Renter Are You?

There are many different types of accommodation arrangements, with different rights and responsibilities. If you cannot figure out which type of renter you are, ask an SRC Caseworker.

University Owned Accommodation (e.g., Queen Mary, Regiment, Abercrombie)
You should have signed a contract which outlines the conditions of your accommodation. The contract will include rights and responsibilities from the Residential Tenancies Act, so you are, for all intents and purposes, likely to be considered a tenant.

Residential College (e.g., St John’s, Wesley, Women’s)
You should have signed a contract which outlines the conditions of your accommodation. There may be an additional set of rules that your specific college has, e.g., you must pass all of your subjects, or you must have dinner at the college on Monday nights, or you must not have guests in your bedroom on weeknights. As a contract holder, your rights and responsibilities are outlined in your contract, and you are protected by contract law.

Student Specific Accommodation (e.g., Urbanest, Iglu, Sydney Uni Village)
You should have signed a contract which outlines the conditions of your accommodation. Some providers use a lease agreement, making you a tenant and subject to the Residential Tenancies Act. Some providers use a contract, which makes you a boarder (if they include food) or lodger.

Homestay
You or your parent should have signed a contract which outlines the conditions of your accommodation. You are also covered by the Education Services for Overseas Students Act.

Share House
There are a few different types of arrangements.

  • You plus at least one other housemate signed the lease – you are probably a co-tenant and subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.
  • You signed the lease, but no-one else has – you are probably a head tenant and are subject to the Residential Tenancies Act in the role of the tenant when dealing with your landlord or in the role of the landlord when dealing with the other people living in your home.
  • Someone else signed the lease, but not you, but you do have a signed written agreement with the head tenant – you are probably a sub tenant and are subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.
  • Someone else signed the lease, but you do not have a signed agreement – you do not have any rights or responsibilities and are not covered by any accommodation laws. This might include share houses where the people who signed the lease have moved on, and nobody has thought to change the lease.
  • You live with the owner of the house and have a signed written agreement – you are a boarder (if they include food) or lodger.
  • You live with the owner of the house and do not have a signed written agreement – you probably do not have any rights or responsibilities and are not covered by any accommodation laws.

Living Alone
You are probably a tenant and subject to the Residential Tenancies Act. While it is best to have a written signed lease agreement, you are probably still a tenant, even if you do not have a written agreement.

You can find the Residential Tenancies Act here: legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/2010/42

You can find the Boarding House Act here: legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/2012/74, and the Boarding House Occupancy Principles here: files.tenants.org.au/resources/2015-Occupancy-principles-poster-A4.pdf