Housing in Australia
Your First Home
Unless you’ve managed to buy a house in Australia before you move over here or you
are planning to stay with relatives in Australia, it is most likely your first home will be a
rented house or apartment. There are pros and cons to this and you have to be aware
of the pitfalls of renting as well as the advantages it offers.
If you are here on a temporary visa, it will be more difficult and more expensive for you to buy than it is for residents or those with
permanent visas. This is because you will not be entitled to grants or Stamp Duty exemptions as a first time owner.
If you’re planning to stay just for a year or two, it might not be worth buying a house, because of the taxes and other expenses
How to Find a Rental Property
Choosing a Location
You should apply the same criteria to finding a rental property as you would to buying a house. This is especially true if you intend
renting for a long time.
First find a suburb that you like, that you can afford and which is convenient for work. Also, if you are emigrating with a family you
need to check out the local schools.
The most useful resource for finding a rental property is the internet. In the Google Search bar, enter ‘Property to Rent’ followed by
the name of the city or town you are planning to move for a wealth of options.
A couple of very helpful sites are:
Real Estate Australia
These sites are userfriendly.
Just enter the suburb, size of house and your price range for the weekly rent. They then bring up a
selection of properties, usually ordered according to rental price.
Local newspapers usually carry a rental property section on a specific weekday and a supplement at the weekend. Also, free local
weekly newspapers have similar property listings. Advertisements in the newspapers usually provide information on a guide weekly
rental price and location.
Real Estate Agents (Realtors)
These are to be found on almost every main street or high street in the suburb you are interested in and they are not simply
restricted to buying and selling houses. Most estate agents (especially the larger, panAustralian
companies) have rental property
departments and they give over window display space for rental properties. The rental departments are normally referred to as
As well as High Street real estate agents, there are also companies who specialise in rental property (Letting Agents). They keep
printed lists of rental properties organised according to weekly price.
Don’t expect a rental agent to help you find a place. They’re very good at showing you specific properties once you’ve expressed
interest but they will not organise visits or escort you to multiple properties as happens in many countries. Be prepared to deal with
several different agents as you search for a rental property.
‘For Rent’ or ‘For Lease’ Signs
Properties that are placed on the rental market are often advertised using display boards outside the property. These carry details of
the property and contact information for the letting agent.
There is a huge demand for rental property in Australia and so rents are generally high. This is thanks to a number of factors.
Shortage of properties for the burgeoning population
House prices are high pushing up rental prices
Many foreign workers are entering the country to take up jobs, especially in the resources sector. This adds to the pressure
on the number of rentals available especially in areas where the boom is greatest.
A sign of how huge the demand is comes from the fact that in Sydney, there is only a 1% rental vacancy rate, and quite often rental
agents have twenty applicants for every rental property put on the market.
Because of this great demand, rental prices are high. A small apartment in the less desirable suburbs of the larger Australian cities
will cost at least $200 per week. At the top end, the sky is the limit. In the most upmarket
homes with views and pools can rent for up to $15,000 a week. Obviously, rural rental property or rentals in smaller towns are
cheaper than in the capital cities.
Average Rents in Major Capitals
Ranking City Median Rental Price for Apartments (Units) and Houses (per week)
1 Darwin $553
2 Sydney $511
3 Canberra $479
4 Melbourne $403
5 Brisbane $392
6 Perth $390
7 Adelaide $340
8 Hobart It would also be worth visiting: Realestateview.com.au
Another useful site is Realestate.com.au
Rules and Regulations
Renting is a heavily regulated process in Australia. Some things to remember:
You will have to pay a month’s rent in advance
You will have to pay a bond (usually 4 weeks rent). The bond is lodged with a State government body called the Rental
Tenancies Authority (RTA) and kept in an independent holding account. The account pays interest to the tenant when he
To succeed in applying for a rental property you will have to:
Sign a contract or Tenancy Agreement
Show employment and personal references
Show three months worth of pay slips or a letter from your accountant if you are selfemployed
Three months of bank statements
Provide multiple proofs of ID showing your name and address. Some of these must also include a photo. (passport,
drivers licence, utilities bill)
A letting agent will probably also run a credit check on you.
You will have to abide by the terms of the contract.
Some landlords object to pets while others are relaxed about it. Officially, if you wish to keep pets in a rental and the landlord
agrees to it, you will have to pay an extra two weeks of bond.
Every tenant in Australia must endure numerous inspections of the property they are renting.
You will be shown an ingoing
report by the rental agent. This will specify the precise condition of the property at the time you take
up tenancy. The letting agent may also take photographs of the condition of the property. You may also take your own photos to
document the state of the property especially if something is in need of repair.
You will need to thoroughly check the ingoing
property report and raise any concerns before signing it. It is important to do this $316
because this report will be the basis upon which the agent and landlord will judge how well you have treated the property during the
tenancy and therefore influence the return of your bond.
Australian rental properties are normally inspected by the rental agent every three to six months of occupancy. You will be expected
to be available to the agent at the time of the inspection. The property should be in pristine condition as any problems found with the
property will be reported to the landlord and could affect your continued tenancy. Any damage identified during the inspection will be
noted and you will be expected to repair it at your own expense.
You should report any problems you’re having with the property at this time or discuss any concerns you have with the agent. Failure
to do so could affect the return of your bond.
At the end of your tenancy, the rental agent will conduct another inspection and compare it to the preinspection
before you move in. Any damage or degradation to the property beyond normal wear and tear will be deducted from the bond you
lodged to secure the tenancy.
The Rental Tenancies Authority (RTA) has a very detailed website which can tell you anything you wish to know about renting in
The Pros and Cons of Renting
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the condition of your rented home and for repairing anything that goes wrong
You do not have to find a large deposit to buy a house.
You do not need to pay a mortgage.
You are responsible for any damage caused to the property except for ‘fair wear and tear’ or through anything that is not your
caused by bad weather or damage caused by contractors employed by the agent or landlord.
You have to pay a 4week
bond and 4weeks
rent in advance.
All the money you pay goes to the agent and the landlord. You are not paying off a mortgage.
It is not your home.
Vacating the Rental Property
In Australia, there are strict laws protecting both landlords and tenants. The letting agent, who charges the owner of the property a
percentage of the rent, is meant to act as middleman between yourself and your landlord. They are there to help both parties if there
are any disputes or if any serious problems arise.
At the end of your tenancy, you’ll be given an outgoing
report detailing the condition of the premises. You must go through this with
the agent checking everything is in order. If you agree with the contents of this report, you must sign it. The owner and the agent will
then compare the ingoing
condition reports and decide if you are entitled to your bond in full.