Moving van
Happy lady

The Real Estate Agent

OK, so here is the rental agreement for you to sign. Do you have any questions?

Smiling lady

The Real Estate Agent

Well, a rental agreement is a legally-binding contract. It has quite a few clauses or terms and conditions, so take it home and read it through.

The main terms and conditions include that you agree to pay a particular amount of rent on a specific day each month, how long the agreement is for and that you agree to keep the property in the same condition as when you received it, except for normal wear and tear.

Anything else you want to know?

Excited lady

The Real Estate Agent

Great! Just sign here, and date here...done! Congratulations, you are now responsible for paying the rent and maintaining the property.

Angry lady

The Real Estate Agent

Some people do rent directly off the home owner and sometimes a legal rental agreement has not been created. This means the home owner could evict the tenants or raise the rent whenever they want. By going through an agent, both the home owner and the tenants have clear rights and responsibilities.

Lady talking

The Real Estate Agent

The rental agreement you sign is a legal contract between you and the owner or real estate agent. It means you are responsible for the condition of the property and the cost of renting it. So if you let someone move in you are responsible for any rent they fail to pay or damages they cause.

So, do you have your bond sorted yet?

Lady talking

The Real Estate Agent

A bond is a sum of money that you must pay in addition to your rent before moving in. It's usually about the same amount as one month's rent payments. This money is put into a separate account for safe keeping, though where it is stored varies across Australian states and territories. It is held for the term of the rental agreement. This means nobody can take it without proper authorisation.

But if you leave with rent owing or have damaged the property during the period of time you lived there, the homeowner can apply to keep the bond to cover their losses.

Smiling lady

The Real Estate Agent

Of course there is the bond, usually equivalent to a month’s rent and it's paid before you move in, as well as your first two week's rent in advance. Then there’s all your setup fees like getting utilities connected, removalist fees if you pay someone to move your stuff in, maybe you need furniture, linen, kitchen stuff and so on.

I’ve seen plenty of share houses fall apart because of money. Make sure you and your housemates have a budget. It will help you all to keep track of what you are spending and help plan for any unexpected expenses that might pop up.

Anything else?

Concerned lady

The Real Estate Agent

You can be kicked out, or evicted as we call it, for a number of reasons.

The main reasons are for causing significant damage to the property or falling behind on your rent. However also be aware that if your neighbours complain about noise too often you might get asked to move out, so be respectful of those living around you. And check your agreement before having a pet join your household. A lot of homeowners won't allow animals to live on their property and can ask you to get rid of your pet, or leave.

But you always get at least one chance to fix things or catch up on your rent before you are evicted. This is an example of how a formal rental agreement can give you some protection.

Smiling lady

The Real Estate Agent

If you think you’re going to be late with the rent or have any kind of problem with the property, come and talk with us first. Don’t just ignore it, because you will be legally required to fix the damage and/or vacate the premises if you don't deal with it.

If you want to talk to someone independent, there are consumer protection or fair trading services in every State and Territory who will give you free advice. There are also tenancy unions and groups that can advise you. Free financial counsellors can also assist you with budgeting and debt management.

Excited lady

The Real Estate Agent

Yes, remember to make sure you fill out that detailed condition report I mentioned earlier. Take photos, document any damage you find and include a description of the condition of every room.

If you don’t do this, we will rely on the previous condition report, which may not list damage that the previous tenants caused. This could mean you'll be financially liable for damage that you didn’t cause.

View more teaching resources on moneysmart.gov.au