Introduction to renting in Victoria for international students

By Anika Legal | Mon 4th March '24

If you’re an international student who just arrived in Victoria, Australia - welcome! We hope you enjoy living here, and that your renting process is as smooth as possible.

International students in Victoria have different options for accommodation, including:

  • Private rentals in Share houses;
  • Private rentals in apartments;
  • Student accommodation;
  • Homestays.

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s crucial to evaluate your preferences, budget and lifestyle before making a decision.

Anika specialises in helping renters with problems in private rentals. Our information below is focussed on giving you information about what you should be aware of when renting in a private rental.

We want to make things as easy as possible for you, so here’s our guide to renting in Victoria:

Starting your private rental

Please see our article titled How do I find an affordable rental property in Victoria? if you need help finding out how to look for an affordable private rental property in Victoria.

Once you’ve successfully found a private rental property, your rental provider or their agent will ask you to enter into a rental agreement.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about your rental agreement:

  • A rental agreement is a legally binding contract between you (as a renter) and your landlord. Before signing, carefully read the terms in the agreement. Once you sign the agreement, the contract becomes binding - so it’s important you understand what you’re signing!
  • Remember to keep a copy of your signed lease for future reference.
  • When signing your rental agreement, make sure you understand the rent payment schedule in your lease so you know how much you are paying and how often. You can set up automatic payments if that makes things easier!

Around the time you enter your rental agreement, your rental provider or their agent will ask you to pay a lump sum of money, usually comprising your first month’s rent and bond. Once paid, your rental provider must lodge your bond with the RTBA.

For more information about bonds, please see the following blog posts:

Around the time you move into your property, you should also be given an Incoming Conditions Report by your rental provider or their agent. This is a report that allows you to document the current state of the property when you first move in.

For more information about the types of documents that are important when starting a new tenancy, have a read of our article on “Which documents are most important when I move into a new place?”

During your tenancy

We hope that you settle happily into your new home. Here are a few tips to help you minimise the likelihood of any disputes arising during your tenancy:

  • Communicate with your landlord or agent! Effective communication is a great way to maintain a positive relationship with your landlord. If you have any questions or you’re encountering issues, let them know as soon as possible (ideally in writing).
  • Respect the property and your neighbours. As a renter, you have certain responsibilities. This includes abiding by the terms of your lease agreement, not damaging the property, and being considerate to the people living around you. Keep noise levels within acceptable limits and maintain the premises in good condition.
  • Look after your home, and let the landlord know if you have any concerns about its state of repair. While you have a legal duty to maintain and look after the home, your rental provider must keep the property in a reasonable state of repair. It’s important for you to promptly notify your landlord of any necessary repairs and maintenance.
  • Pay your rent! A common misconception is that you can stop paying rent if there’s issues at the property that you think the rental provider is responsible for - this is not the case. You should continue to pay rent even if you have a separate dispute with the rental provider that you think you should be compensated for. Do not stop paying rent if your lease is ongoing.

Leaving the Property

If you are thinking of leaving the Property (ideally after a long and secure tenancy), there are still key steps you should be aware of.

Firstly, if you are considering leaving your Property, please make sure you are following the terms of your rental agreement and Victorian law to do so properly. You don’t want to run the risk of breaking lease! If you leave the property before the end of your lease without proper notice, your landlord might be able to claim money from your bond.

When leaving a property at the end of the lease, it is important that:

  • The property is in the same condition as when you moved in
  • Any modifications (such as picture hooks) are removed
  • All keys, remotes and access cards provided by the landlord are returned

Once you have vacated the property the landlord will complete an Outgoing Conditions Report to ensure that it has been left in a reasonably clean state. If the property is not left in a reasonable state the landlord may claim money from your bond to make up for any costs they incur to fix or clean the property.

To learn more about what might happen at the end of your tenancy, here are some other blog posts that might interest you:

Asking for help with rental problems

Remember, in Victoria, there are free legal services that may be able to help you if you have a legal problem with your rental! To learn more about these service, have a read of our blog post entitled “How do I get legal help when I have a rental problem?”.

Anika Legal can help if you require your landlord to complete repairs or if your rental provider is trying to claim your bond at VCAT. Please submit an enquiry via our intake form if you want to check whether your matter is eligible for our service.

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