GUEST GUIDELINES AND USEFUL TIPS


Managing Expectations and Avoiding Nasty Surprises

It is very important to plan your trip properly.

Being able to find a place that you can call home for a couple of weeks, months or years is one of the best feelings you get when starting a new stage in life.

As many of you come from outside Australia, it’s likely you are not familiar with the regulations. The service you are receiving does come with rights and also responsibilities both legal and cultural. It is critical that you know about them before committing to a place.
Otherwise, the rental process will be very hard and full of headaches.

This document will help you avoid many mistakes.

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PLEASE NOTE: The below information is general advice and a guide only.
Bedssi does not assume any liability for the content provided in this page. Make sure you check other sources as well before making any decision.


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RENTING TERMS YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND

  • Landlord: person who rents out a property or room
  • Tenant : person who occupies a room / property rented from a landlord
    This means that as soon as you rent the room you become the "tenant".


LEASE AGREEMENT FORM

We recommend you ensure your tenancy agreement is documented in the form of a lease agreement. This will protect both you and your landlord in the event of a legal issue, and means you mutually understand what’s expected from one another. Agreements and other helpful documents are typically found on the state or territory’s Department of Commerce website.

Your lease agreement will formalise important aspects like monthly rent, bond amount, inspections and damage reporting, to name a few. You’ll also have the opportunity to clarify what’s OK and not OK for your renter, such as whether pets are allowed or whether repainting the walls is permitted. And of course, you can spell out the consequences of breaking the agreement. You can also confirm if the rent you pay includes bills, internet, etc. Please note that the only bill that has to be paid by the landlord is the water bill.

You can find lease agreement and damage report forms in the different state government websites:


THE TENANCY LEASE AGREEMENT

There are a number of set ways to end a tenancy agreement and these methods vary slightly from state to state. Even if an agreement has a fixed end date, both you and the landlord/host will need to give written notice to end the tenancy.

Always check:

  • The reasons allowed in your state for giving notice to end a tenancy.
  • Whether the notice needs to be given on an official notice or form.
  • How much time you need to give before the end of the agreement. Depending on which state you are in, you will be obliged to provide between approximately two and four weeks' notice before vacating.

You can terminate the Residential Tenancy Agreement in the following ways:

  • If you intend to vacate at the end of your Residential Tenancy Agreement you are required to give fourteen (14) days written notice prior to the expiry of the fixed term of your Agreement.
  • Once the fixed term has expired, you are at liberty to continue living at the property or to vacate. If you intend to vacate, written notice to that effect must be received by the host at least twenty one (21) days prior to vacating

Lease Break - Breaking your lease will normally incur penalty fees. This should be specified in the agreement (normally several weeks of rent). Clarify this specific point when checking in (move in day).

ALWAYS READ YOUR RENTAL AGREEMENT PROPERLY. VERY IMPORTANT.


HOLDING DEPOSIT

Some businesses will ask for a "holding deposit". This deposit will only be taken once your application has been approved. The amount is usually equivalent to one weeks rent. Your deposit will secure the property until the day you check-in (move in).
Important: Holding deposits are normally not refunded if you change your mind (check this specific point with your host before making any payment).


THE BOND

Hosts/landlords may ask for a bond as a security deposit.
This is paid at the time of checking-in and it is done directly between the student and the host/landlord.

In the event that you (the tenant) fail to keep the premises clean, damage the property or don’t pay rent, the landlord can claim some or all of their bond to cover these expenses at the end of the tenancy.

It is legally required that the bond is forwarded to the state’s residential tenancies bond authority.*
They will hold the bond on behalf of the tenant and landlord during the tenancy.

In most cases, the bond is equivalent to 2-4 weeks rent.

Occasionally hosts/landlords believe they can claim the bond because the property is not in the same condition as it was at the beginning of the tenancy.
Remember that the costs of “fair wear and tear” can’t be claimed (clarify this point at the time of moving in).

However, the landlord can make a claim on the bond for:

  • Damage caused by the tenant.
  • Cleaning expenses.
  • The tenant abandoning the premises.
  • The tenant leaving the landlord to pay bills the tenant should have paid.
  • Loss of the landlord’s goods.
  • Unpaid rent.

THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED, HELP ME!

THE RENT

A clear process needs to be followed in relation to the rent.
The installment amounts needs to be paid in full on the specified date with no delays.
Make sure that the agreement is clear regarding amounts and frequency of payments.

It is the landlord’s choice to have the rent paid weekly or fortnightly (2 weeks).

Please note that the landlord can NOT increase your rent until the end of the fixed term unless your agreement states otherwise.
Rent cannot be increased more than once every six months and the landlord must give you at least 60 days notice of any proposed rent increase.

Please note: even if the rent increases, the amount of bond can’t be increased.
We created a rental guide for all Aussie cities (this was done last year so please add 5-10% more for rent)


RENT IS PAID IN ADVANCE

No reasons or excuses are accepted for delays on rent. Take this into account.

Please ensure your rent is always paid in advance.
Some tenants find this concept hard to understand, and some mistakenly believe that the first 2 weeks rent paid is held in trust for use at the end of tenancy, like a bond. It is important to note the first 2 weeks rent paid is for your first 2 weeks of tenancy, so at the end of the first week, you are only 1 week in advance. It is always important to maintain your rent in advance, therefore after moving in your next rent payment should be made within the following week.

For example:

  1. You are moving in to a place on Saturday 4 February.
  2. Both you and the host agree that rent is to be paid every fortnight.
  3. The first 2 weeks of rent will need to be paid in advance. This means that when you move in, rent will be paid until Saturday 18 February.
  4. The next 2 weeks of rent need to be in the host/landlord's nominated account on Saturday 18 February.
  5. Take into account that transfers between banks can take up to 3 working days which means you should make the deposit on Wednesday 15 February.
  6. Rent is paid the same way every 2 weeks until the end of your stay.


UTILITIES/SERVICES

The landlord must pay all installation and initial connection costs for electricity, gas and water supply.

In many cases your will be responsible for paying all services (except water). Make sure you clarify this specific point before making the booking or on arrival.


HOUSE RULES

You must honour the House Rules and instructions from the Host.

It is important that you sit down and discuss these within the first 2 days after your arrival.
This is your opportunity to ask questions to the hosts and to clarify all the issues/points you may have. Some examples are:

  • How many GIGs are included in your WiFi? Is the internet unlimited?
    Internet is normally capped in Australia. It is not unlimited as it may be the case in the USA or some Asian and European countries.
  • How often am I supposed to clean the social areas?
  • Can my friends stay overnight?
  • Can I organise dinners? Can I have pets?
  • Smoking is normally not permitted inside the property.

It is your responsibility to maintain and leave the Bed/Room in the same condition as it was when you arrived.
It's also the polite thing to do. Remember you are a guest in somebody’s home.

Different places/Rooms have different rules. For example:

  • In Australia very few households have cleaners or maids therefore you are required to maintain the place perfectly clean.
    However, some rooms include a weekly cleaning fee (for example a serviced apartment).
    This means you will just need to maintain your room in good conditions, but someone else will clean the place for you.
  • In other occasions you will be sharing an apartment with other people.
    You will have to comply with the house rules, which in many cases includes a cleaning roster where everybody living in the house helps with the cleaning.
    It will be your responsibility to also clean and maintain your room in good conditions.

If at the time of leaving (checking out) you left the Bed/Room dirty or untidy or in poor condition, you may not receive your bond or deposit back.
It is very likely that the host will have to use it to clean and bring the room back to its original condition.

Always remember that other guests will come after you.
They also deserve to arrive to a good, clean Bed/Room.

Important Note: Make sure you arrange this type of specific arrangements directly with the host.


REPAIRS

Your landlord needs to respond to requests for urgent repairs without delay.

If the landlord doesn’t anything , you have the right to arrange for these repairs to be completed up to the value of $1,000 – at the landlord's expense.

Non-urgent repairs must be carried out within 3 weeks (time varies depending on your state's legislation). If non-urgent repairs are not attended to, you may apply to the tribunal for an inspection and subsequent report.

Please note: You cannot withhold rent while waiting for repairs to be done.


TENANT SCREENING

It is very likely that the Landlord will want to know more about you.
Be prepared to answer to the same question asked in different ways in order to identify a discrepancy with what you have previously said.

After you have completed a tenancy application you might be screened by phone and then interviewed in person; this is really important for both parties as instincts will play an important part in your decision making. Make sure you clearly understand who they are and if their personality will fit the room/house you are renting.

During the course of your tenancy, the premises may be inspected periodically by your host. They should contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time to do this. They should not come announced.


LANDLORDS ARE REQUIRED TO:

  • Give you (the tenant) a copy of the booklet relevant to your state outlining their rights as or before they move into your property
  • Make sure the premises are vacant and reasonably clean on the day the tenant is due to move in.
  • Keep the premises and common areas in good condition and all items repaired.
  • When replacing any water appliance, fitting or fixture, ensure it meets Standards Australia ‘A’ rating.
  • Pay all installation and initial connection costs for electricity, gas and oil supply. If there isn’t a separate meter to the premises, the landlord must pay all other charges.
  • Reimburse the tenant if the tenant has paid the costs of any utilities for which the landlord is liable (eg water). If bottled gas is provided, the landlord pays for the supply or hire of bottles.
  • Make sure all external doors have locks and windows can be secured.
  • If there is a need to change locks, give the tenant the new key as soon as possible.
  • Let the tenant have peace and quiet and enjoyment of the premises. IF general inspections are required, follow rules regarding proper notice periods.
  • Do not arrive unannounced and unexpected. Landlords can’t just get in whenever they feel like it. Local legislation will stipulate how frequently they can do this and how to go about it. As a general rule, an inspection occurs three months after initial occupancy and every six to 12 months thereafter. Keeping thorough records and photographs is recommended.


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SIGNS OF ILLEGAL ROOMS & PROVIDERS. BEWARE!

  • No lease agreement / contract is signed on arrival (or they hand you a handwritten piece of paper)
  • Keys are shared with other tenants/guests
  • There are no shared / social areas (people are sleeping in living and dining rooms)
  • It is overcrowded (E.g. max 4 people In a 2 bedroom apartment)
  • Rooms have no windows and/or doors

So what can you do if you see yourself involved with an illegal provider?

  • Please do take action. Many students don't share their experiences because they are afraid that they will have retaliation from the host, be deported or be in trouble. Rest assured that your well being is at the top of your institution's priority list. If your host becomes aggressive and threatening look for help.
  • We suggest you talk to your institution. Most education institutions have support teams prepared to help you. They will provide good advice on how to move forward.
  • We suggest you talk to the police. The police force in Australia is trustworthy.


SCAM WARNING SIGNS

Scams are unfortunately common. Please be vigilant. The NSW Fair Trading is a useful resource in protecting yourself against scammers. It also contains information on how to avoid and report scams. You can report scams via the scamwatch website. Some warning signs are:

  • Offers which seem too good to be true (e.g. promises of cheap rent. Rent is also cheaper than any other room in the same suburb)
  • Host gives you ongoing excuses as to why the property cannot be inspected (e.g. The "landlord" claims that they are currently not living in Australia). Please note this only applies when you are already in Australia
  • The host/landlord asks you to make a direct deposit into their overseas bank account (which means the bank account is not in Australia), or to mail a cheque, money order, international funds, pre-loaded card or electronic currency.
  • The host/landlord tells you they will mail you the keys.


OTHER GENERAL TIPS THAT WE THINK YOU SHOULD TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION

Be Open Minded:
Keep your opinions flexible and receptive to new environments. Remember things will be different from home.

Sense of Humour:
In another culture there are plenty of things which can go wrong.

Flexibility and Adaptability:
Responding to or tolerating the ambiguity of new situations is important to intercultural success.
Keep options open and judgmental behaviour to a minimum. Try to be an adaptable or flexible person.

Curiosity:
This skill or personality trait is important for learning the many things you need to adapt to a new environment.
Get to know new people, get to see new places, experience new way of doing things, try new food, etc.

Realistic Expectations:
There are strong correlations between positive expectations for an intercultural experience and successful adjustment overseas and at home.
You need to have realistic expectations. For example: You will not have help in house chores, you will be very likely have to work as a team.

Tolerance for Differences:
A sympathetic understanding for beliefs or practices differing from your own is very important.
The ability to express warmth, empathy, respect and positive regard for other people is a key component of effective intercultural relations.
Remember that Australia is a multicultural society.
This is what makes it so culturally rich and interesting.

Ability to Cope with Failure
People who go overseas have often been the most successful in their home environments and have rarely experienced failure. In many occasions this will be the first time you will live away from home. Things will not go as planned sometimes.


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*Important note:

This document is general advice and a guide only. Bedssi does not assume any liability for the content provided in this document. Information in this publication is correct at time of publishing/printing (December 2016) but is subject to change. Bedssi reserves the right to amend, cancel or modify without notice, the content of any matter in this publication. Information related to third parties and services provided by others will be updated directly by them and we do not accept responsibility on any changes of information, policies or procedures they have.