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10 Tips For Your First Rental
●July 27, 2021●9 minute read
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Moving out of home for the first time can be an exciting time, however there are some important things you’ll need to know for a smooth renting experience.
Did you know?
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 32% (equivalent of 2.6 million householders) of Aussies are renters.
In this helpful guide, we’ve put together ten tips for first-time renters to ensure a stress-free tenancy.
1. Signing your lease
In most cases, if you’re renting a property, you’ll need to sign a lease agreement. Since it’s a legally binding document, it’s important to understand what exactly you’re signing on the dotted line.
In a nutshell, a lease agreement is the agreement between you (the tenant) and the landlord. It defines specific terms such as how long you’ll be in the property, how much rent you’ll be paying, and your responsibilities as a tenant.
When you sign a lease, you’re legally bound to all of the terms and conditions stated in the contract, including all the nitty-gritty parts. So, you’ll need to adhere to everything that’s listed. If you breach the conditions of your lease, the landlord has the right to evict you from the property.
2. Paying rent
You should be given a few options to pay your rent from your property manager or landlord. Some common methods of paying rent include an electronic bank transfer, bank cheque, or money order. In some cases, you might be able to pay your rent by EFTPOS, credit card, cash, or even deductions from your pay. However, you’ll need to clarify with your landlord or property manager if you’re not sure.
Always make sure you get a receipt of your rental payments. In the case there is ever any confusion, it’s a good idea to keep evidence of rental payments and bond payments. So, nothing can ever come back to bite you later.
If your rent is late, your landlord has the right to breach you. After this date, if the rent still isn’t paid, they might be able to evict you from the property. So, if something happens and your rent is late, it’s important to keep your landlord/property manager informed. This way, they can do what they can to help you, and might be able to avoid breaching you or even evicting you from the property.
3. Paying bond
You’ll likely need to pay a rental bond, which serves as security for the landlord in the case anything goes wrong with the property. Essentially, a rental bond is a sum of money paid by the tenant at the beginning of their lease agreement (usually, equal to four weeks rent). In the case the property is damaged, left in an unfit condition, or there is still rent owing after you vacated, the bond can be used to cover the costs.
If a landlord claims on your rental bond, partly or fully, this will appear on your tenancy history. This can affect your future rental opportunities, so it’s important to prioritise getting your rental bond back, if possible.
Your rental bond will usually be released at the end of your tenancy agreement, or when you vacate the property. If you have any complications with getting your rental bond back, or you have more questions about what it’s used for, there are heaps of resources available to learn more.
4. Your rights as a tenant
When you’re a tenant on a lease, you have certain rights as per the agreement. For example, the landlord can’t force you to pay for repairs and maintenance that are part of the general upkeep and liveability of the property.
In addition, when you’re a tenant, you have the right to privacy. Meaning, a landlord or property manager can’t just show up without giving you the sufficient amount of notice.
To find out what your tenancy rights are in your state, or to seek assistance, you can check out the following resources:
5. Vacating the property
Whether it’s the end of your lease or you need to break your rental lease, there are some things you’ll need to do when vacating a property. If you’re not planning on renewing your lease, you’ll need to give your landlord/property manager sufficient notice (usually, two to three weeks) so that they can find a new tenant to move into the property.
If you’re breaking a lease, you’ll likely need to pay a range of fees as a result. This is to cover the landlord’s loss of rent which you agreed to pay throughout the duration of your lease agreement.
To give you a snapshot of what you might be expected to pay, costs can include a break-lease fee, advertising costs to find a new tenant, and rent payments until the new tenant moves into the property.
Of course, when you vacate, you’ll need to leave the property in an appropriate state, similar to the state it was in when you moved in. Regardless of whether you’re breaking lease or vacating at the end of your lease, you’ll need to ensure the property is clean and in good condition (i.e. no damage to the property).
6. Maintenance and other repairs
When it comes to maintenance and other home repairs, there are some things that you’ll be liable for, and others that will fall on your landlord.
When it’s necessary, the landlord will need to pay for maintenance and repairs. For example, in an emergency, like not having water, electricity, gas, a working toilet, or any other emergency situation, the landlord will need to cover the costs of getting a handyman out to the property. Plus, if things break that aren’t your fault, like an air conditioner or ceiling fan, the landlord will need to cover the costs to repair the faulty items.
However, there are some situations in which you’ll need to cover the costs of repairs. For example, if you accidentally smash a window, damage a wall, or any other issue at which you’re deemed ‘at fault’, you might need to cover the repair costs.
In general, if the damage was your fault, you’ll need to pay to fix them. If it’s general wear-and-tear, or something that wasn’t your fault, the landlord will need to pay for repairs.
If you need to report maintenance issues, there will typically be a process that your landlord/property manager would like you to follow. If it’s an after hours emergency, you’ll likely be given a maintenance contact sheet, so you can organise it all yourself.
Other than your landlord or property manager, your neighbours are important people that you should prioritise having a positive relationship with. Particularly if you live in an apartment building or complex, your neighbours are the most likely to report issues with your tenancy (such as making too much noise). So, it’s important to have them on your good side.
Plus, if you’re ever away and need someone to collect your mail or take your bins out, it’s handy to have people that you can rely on to do this for you.
8. Dealing with a landlord or property manager
As we’ve mentioned, your landlord or property manager will be a pretty important person that you will deal with when you’re a renter. If you’ve got maintenance issues, repairs you need organised, or you’ve locked yourself out and need to borrow a spare key, your landlord/property manager will be your first point of contact.
It’s important to try to create and maintain a positive relationship with your landlord/property manager. Not only will this make your current rental experience easy and positive, but it will also increase your chances of being approved for future rental properties.
Did you know?
In most cases, when you apply for a rental property, the new property manager/landlord will complete a rental reference. Meaning, they’ll be contacting your previous landlord/property manager to find out what kind of tenant you are. To make sure you’re getting a glowing reference, it’s important to be on good terms with your landlord/property manager.
If you’ve always been able to make any changes to your room when you lived at home, now that you’re a renter, you’ll have to think again. When you’re renting and you want to make any changes to the property, you’ll likely need to run this past your landlord. This can include painting, installing anything on walls or fixtures, or any other changes to the property.
Plus, you’ll need to check with your landlord or property manager if you want to get a pet. Renting with a pet can sometimes get complicated. Depending on body corporate (if applicable) or the landlord’s personal preferences, your furry friend might not be welcome.
10. Having housemates
If it’s your first time living out of home, odds are that you’ve moved out with some friends or other flatmates. Unfortunately, living with people can be tough. From bathroom hogs to messy people, there are sure to be tiffs here and there. However, getting on with your flatmates is really important.
It might be worth establishing some house rules for you all, so there are no misunderstandings or disputes about things that can be easily organised. You might have some rules like “always clean up after yourself”, “ask before you borrow items”, or even a cleaning roster.
In addition to getting on, you’ll need to organise things like rent and bills between yourselves. If one person has a bigger room than the others, they might pay more rent. Since you’re all on the lease agreement, if one person falls behind on their rental payments, the others might become liable for picking up the slack. Prioritise making sure that it’s all sorted before you sign your lease agreement, and that you all have an understanding about paying rent, to avoid any marks against your name.
Living away from home for the first time is a marker of maturity that we all reach at some point in our lives. While it might seem scary and overwhelming to leave the nest, there are ways you can prepare yourself for the renter’s life so that the transition process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your rental application, there are some easy tips you can follow. Plus, the process of moving house has some costs and expenses attached.
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Written by Rachel Horan
Rachel Horan is a Content Writer for Jacaranda Finance. Rachel has previously produced content for Brisbane City Council, Black & White Cabs, and Clubs Queensland. She has a Bachelor of Mass Communication with Distinction from the Queensland University of Technology.