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First time tenants advice

19 July 2018

Photo: Adare House at Victor Harbor by denisbin

Venturing out into the world as a first time tenant can feel liberating and a bit overwhelming at the same time. With the right advice mixed with a little forethought and preparation, your first time out of home can run just as smoothly as you hope.

Finding your first rental

Finding your first rental can be an overwhelming experience, but if you’re well prepared it will make the process much easier. The first thing to consider when you start checking out and applying to houses is the impression you are making on a potential landlord. Competition can be stiff so you should put your best foot forward.

Ask the right questions

Once you’ve got yourself organised, you should be sure you are asking the landlord the right questions. Some key questions to ask during your search are:

  1. When is the property available?
  2. Is it a fixed-term tenancy or a periodic tenancy?
  3. How much is the rent?
  4. How much bond is required?
  5. Is the property fully furnished?
  6. What whiteware (eg. washing machine, refrigerator, microwave, etc) is included?
  7. Is it close to transport? Shops? University?
  8. How many people are allowed to live in the property?
  9. Is subletting allowed?
  10. Does the property get morning or afternoon sun?
  11. Is the property energy efficient?
  12. How secure is the property? Are there any deadlocks or an alarm?
  13. Who is responsible for mowing the lawn?
  14. Is there a garage or on-street parking available?
  15. Is it OK to smoke inside?
  16. Are pets allowed?
  17. What’s the neighbourhood like?

This list may not cover something that is important or specific to you, so be sure to ask any other questions that fit your personal circumstances.

Remember as of 12th December 2018 it's become no longer legal to charge tenants letting fees. Agents who still charge fees to tenants can face fines up to $2,000

Tenancy agreement

After you’ve asked the right questions, found the right flat, and have been approved by the landlord, you’ll need to fill out a Tenancy Agreement. The Agreement will set out the terms of the tenancy including the amount of rent, amount of bond, date the tenancy begins, and the number of occupants allowed.

Property inspection

Conduct a property inspection when you move in to note any existing damage or maintenance required. This is a very important step as your landlord will compare this report to your final property inspection when you move out which will determine how much bond you get back.

Paying bond

Your landlord can ask you to pay bond up to the equivalent amount of 4 weeks’ rent. Bond is essentially a security deposit on the home which can be used to cover the cost of repairs from intentional damage or unpaid rent at the end of your tenancy. By law your bond has to be lodged with Tenancy Services, and if everything checks out at the end of your tenancy you should be refunded the full amount.

Rights and Responsibilities

Once the excitement of moving into your first rental home wears off it’s time to consider your new responsibilities. As a tenant you are responsible for the following things:

  • paying rent on time as per the tenancy agreement
  • keeping the premises reasonably clean and tidy
  • notifying the landlord as soon as any repairs are needed
  • using the premises principally for residential purposes
  • paying the bills for what you consume or use, such as: electricity, gas, internet/telephone, and metered water
  • notifying the landlord as soon as possible if any damage occurs
  • leaving the property clear of rubbish and possessions at the end of the tenancy
  • leaving the keys and all chattels supplied with the landlord at the end of the tenancy

Moving Out

Moving out from your first tenancy can be as monumental as moving in, but luckily it should be much easier! Before you move out, make sure you’ve done the following things:

  • paid the rent in full
  • removed all of your belongings
  • left the property reasonably clean and tidy
  • disposed of all rubbish
  • checked that there is no damage to the property
  • returned keys to the landlord
  • notify utility providers of your move out day and new address

Lastly, you should arrange to conduct a final property inspection and agree to the bond refund with your landlord. myRent also provides a more thorough explanation about what to do at the end of tenancy.

Just like that you've made it through your first tenancy, and hopefully by following this advice the experience will be one you remember fondly forever!

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