Moving to a new country can be difficult for everyone. One of the problems you may have is finding a place to live. Where should you start looking? What areas are within your budget? How many people do you want to live with?
On top of that, what should you do when you have a problem with your house, your landlord or real estate agent?
Here are some common problems when renting:
My rent keeps going up!
Finding an affordable house or apartment is not easy if you live in the city. But what happens if your landlord keeps raising the rent? If you are on a contract for a fixed period and have signed an agreement with a specific rental amount, then your landlord is not allowed to raise your rent. In Victoria, for those who are renting on a month-by-month basis, your landlord is only allowed to raise the rent every six months. They must tell you 60 days beforehand in writing, and the amount must be reasonable compared to other houses or apartments like yours. If you disagree with the amount rent you are being charged, then you can apply to Consumer Affairs for a rent assessment.
The house needs to be fixed!
Water, gas, electricity, plumbing – these are all essential items, and things that your landlord must deal with ASAP. If the owner puts you in charge of fixing it, then make sure that the fixes don’t cost more than $1800. Keep the receipt and give it to the landlord or agent, fill out a form from Consumer Affairs and you MUST be repaid in 14 days.
If the cost of repairs is too much for you, make a request to be heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You will hear back from them within two days.
For repairs that can wait, your landlord has 14 days to respond and repair the damage. If they don’t, Consumer Affairs Australia can be asked to inspect the property, and if the landlord still doesn’t fix it, then the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal can order them to.
My landlord won’t give me my bond back!
Sometimes your bond might be delayed when you move out a house or apartment.
How can you avoid being charged for damage you didn’t cause? When you move into a new property, it’s important to carefully write down and take pictures of all the places and items that are damaged or need fixing. These things should also be listed on your condition report, which will be signed by yourself and your landlord.
One thing to note is that all parts of the house have a depreciation value. That means that they have a life expectancy. So, the older the item is, the less money the renter will have to pay for damage. Additionally, if the item has lived past its life expectancy, then the landlord cannot ask you to pay for any damage. If the landlord asks you to pay for a damaged item, make sure to ask how old it is! Your landlord also cannot demand money when something gets damaged normally over time (‘fair wear and tear’).
Also, if you paid a cleaner to clean the house when you left, get an invoice. If they didn’t do a good job, and your landlord complains, it is the responsibility of the cleaner NOT YOU to clean the house again for free.
Your landlord MUST lodge a claim for your bond within ten days, and you are always free to disagree.
I don’t like my housemates!
The answer might be simple – just find a new place to live! The easiest place to look for housemates is on Gumtree. If you don’t mind paying a small fee, Flatmates is also useful. Always look for places that have descriptions of both the home and the people, and when you go for an inspection, write down a list of things that you want. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about your potential new housemates’ lifestyles and habits! They don’t have to be your friends, but you need to be able to live with them.
My landlord wants to kick me out!
There are a few reasons why your landlord might want to evict you. A few valid reasons might include:
- Your fixed-term lease is finished
- Not paying rent for 14 days
- There are other people living at the house that the landlord wasn’t told about
- Serious damage has been done to the property
If they want you to move out for other reasons (e.g. they want to sell the property), then there are a few things that landlords must do:
- If you have a fixed-term lease, then there must be a written agreement saying that the landlord and tenants both agree to end the lease
- If a lease is ending or the landlord lives at the property, then 14 days’ notice is required
- If the house is taken by the bank for mortgage reasons, 28 days’ notice is required
- Give 60 days’ notice for the property being sold, relatives moving in, or any other valid reason
- Give 120 days’ notice if there is no reason
All notices must be in writing, must be addressed to the tenant, must be signed by the landlord and have a move out date. If they don’t, then they are not valid.
So, if you’re looking for a place to live, make sure that you know your rights. Moreover, you don’t have to live in the expensive part of the city to have the lifestyle you want. Try exploring other suburbs in Melbourne – they might just be a better price and have better people!
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal – https://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/get-started/renting-a-home
Tenants Union Victoria – https://www.tuv.org.au/