Housing

Renting and leasing

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Residential Tenancies Act

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Information

Location, security and cost are just some of the factors you need to consider when renting or leasing a house, flat or unit.

The average cost of renting or leasing an unfurnished one or two bedroom unit close to UWA is between $250 and $400 per week. Renting a house is more expensive unless you share with a few other people, and you should consider establishment costs.

Rental periods can be fixed-term, for example, for a set period of six or twelve months, or they can be periodic, such as month to month.

It is important to view a rental room or property before you sign up for it. It is not a good idea to sign up for anything other than temporary accommodation without viewing it first. Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 you must view a rental property before you sign a residential tenancy agreement.

Advice for Interstate and International students is available before you arrive in Perth.

  1. Cost
  2. Location
  3. Security
  4. Furniture and facilities
  5. Things to consider
  6. Connection of utilities
  7. Property condition report
  8. Signing a lease
  9. Bond
  10. Organisations that can assist you

Cost

The initial cost of moving into a rental property can be quite expensive. Set up costs may include:

  • bond - usually four weeks rent
  • rent in advance - usually two weeks
  • connection fees for electricity, gas and some internet providers
  • connection fees for telephone – between $59 and $299 for a Telstra line.

Discuss these issues with your landlord before signing a rental agreement.

Location

The closer to the University, the more expensive it usually is. Cheaper accommodation may be found further from the campus, but you will have to consider the increased cost of transport and longer travelling times.

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Security

Check for security screens on windows and doors and lockable windows, particularly on ground floor apartments or units. By law, all rental properties must have working smoke detectors, so check this with your landlord or agent.

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Furniture

Furnished or partly furnished properties may be available for you to rent, avoiding the need to buy essential furniture items. However you are solely responsible for the general cleanliness and maintenance of any furniture on the property. The owner is liable to fix any items that break down with normal use, but if you or your friends damage furniture through improper use, you will need to pay for the damage.

Quality second-hand furniture can be bought from places like the Salvation Army and you may be able to sell them later.

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Things to consider

When considering a rental property, you should ask about:
  • cost of the rent
  • gas, electricity and water charges – are they included in the rent or will additional payments be required?
  • price of the bond.
  • other charges that may apply. Ask the owner or real estate agent.

Before signing a tenancy or lease agreement, read it first. Consider:

  • Rental period. How long is it? Is it monthly (periodic) or fixed term?
  • Lease breaking. What are the implications of moving out early?
  • Notice period. How much notice do you need to provide if you want to move out early?
  • Security. Are there locks on windows and doors?
  • Smoke alarm. Has an alarm been installed, as legally required?

In some instances, you will be asked to complete an application for tenancy form if you are interested in renting a property, particularly if demand is high. You may also be asked to pay an option fee which is deducted from your establishment costs if the property is offered to you. The fee is only refunded if your application is unsuccessful. The fee is not refunded if the property is offered to you but you change your mind and decide not to rent it.

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Connection of utilities

When you rent a property, if you are responsible for the payment of any utilities, such as gas, electricity or water, you will need to contact each of the utility companies to put the accounts into your name. For gas and electricity, they may ask you for the current meter reading.

If you want a telephone at the property you will need to check if there is an active telephone line. If the line was previously connected, there will be a reconnection charge. If there was never a phone connected at the property, the connection fee may be more expensive.

You will need to negotiate with the agent or owner how the water account will be paid. You may be required to pay for the water you use. The owner may pay for it in part, especially if there are gardens/lawns to maintain. This should be specified in your agreement.

Take a reading of the water meter at the beginning and end of the tenancy. Water accounts are sent out every six months usually to the owner or agent.

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Property condition report

When you take out a lease on a house or flat, you should request a property condition report from the owner or agent. The report is compiled with the owner or agent, the tenant and an independent witness.

You go through the property, listing the condition of each room and the garden or yard, including any items damaged before you moved in. This protects you against loss of bond money at the end of your tenancy for damage or losses for which you are not responsible. Make sure the report is dated, signed and witnessed.

If the agent or landlord does not complete a property condition report you should complete one yourself. Have the report witnessed and send a copy to the landlord or agent. It is a good idea to also take photographs of each room with damaged items to support comments in the report.

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Signing a lease

You should always sign a lease when renting a house, flat or unit. This will clearly state your obligations as tenant and those of the landlord.

Read the lease carefully. If you don't understand it or if there is anything you are unsure about, ask for assistance or come and see the Housing Officer in Student Support Services.

It is expensive to break a lease, so be sure you are happy with the accommodation, and have read the lease carefully, before you sign.

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Bond

The bond is usually equal to four weeks rent. Make sure you know where your bond money has been lodged. It must be lodged with the Bond Administrator or in a joint bank account requiring your signature and that of the accommodation provider. You must be given a receipt and a copy of the bond lodgement form.

Remember – get a receipt for any money that you pay to your landlord / agent and keep copies of all correspondence with the landlord until your bond has been returned.

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Organisations that can assist you

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