What to look out for in share accommodation
Sydney is a great city, but it’s not always easy to find a place to live.
If you’re thinking of sharing with others, follow our quick guide to make sure your new home is safe and comfortable.
Finding a room
Rooms are usually advertised:
- on popular property listing websites
- on noticeboards in cafes
- at community centres
- at universities
- in newspaper property listings.
Rooms can be advertised by:
- real estate agents
- existing households looking for a flatmate.
Types of accommodation
When you’re looking to share a room or house, it’s helpful to ask:
- Is there a lease in place?
- Does the building/room have smoke detectors?
- Does the bedroom have a window?
- Does it have basic facilities such as kitchen, bathroom and does the stove, oven and toilet/shower work?
- Is the property clean and tidy?
- Are there more than 2 adults living in 1 room?
When you’re choosing a room in a boarding house, it’s a good idea to check if the property is listed on the NSW Department of Fair Trading accommodation register.
A listed property is more likely to meet basic fire safety and health standards.
Keep in mind that a boarding house resident does not have the same control over the premises as a tenant with a lease/residential tenancy agreement.
Hostels and backpackers:
If you're looking to stay in a hostel or backpackers, it's a good idea to check if they are listed with the NSW Backpacker Operators Association, which will help you choose a reliable company.
Watch out for scams
Be aware that some people may not be truthful when they advertise a property. If the owner makes excuses about why you can’t inspect the property but insists on upfront payment, for example, it could be a scam.
You should always inspect the room or house before you agree to move in.
Don’t be afraid to ask how many people live in the house. Overcrowded households can be a sign that the accommodation is unsafe or even illegal.
Try to meet your housemates before you move in. Consider your housemates’ day-to-day activities – cooking, watching TV and going to the bathroom can get pretty noisy. It’s a good idea to consider these things if you’re looking at lofts, attics or any ‘rooms’ without walls and a door.
Contracts and payment
Before signing an agreement:
- Confirm the weekly rent and what it does and doesn’t cover.
- Get the landlord (or head tenant’s) full name, address and bank account details.
- You may be asked to pay a security deposit in a boarding house – this should be no more than 2 weeks rent. As a security deposit for other accommodation types pay no more than 4 weeks rent.
- Bonds should be lodged by the landlord or agent with the NSW Department of Fair Trading.
Keep in mind:
- An electronic transfer or cheque is good evidence of your payment in case any disagreements arise.
- Regardless of how you pay, always ask for a rent receipt.
- It’s a good idea to sign a written contract with the owner, agent or head tenant, if you’re subletting. If something goes wrong, this will help you enforce your rights.