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Before you arrive in Victoria
It is best to book temporary accommodation before you arrive, and look for longer-term accommodation after you arrive.
If you prefer to organise your longer-term accommodation before you arrive, or find a rental property when you arrive, only sign a rental lease or contract after you have viewed the property and are happy with it. Once you have arrived, check the property is clean and safe. Ask the landlord or owner to fix any problems before you pay money or sign an agreement.
If you sign a lease but then change your mind and decide you do not want to live there, you may have to pay extra money to end the lease.
Renting in Victoria
Video transcript: International students - Renting in Victoria (Word, 86KB)
You have the same renting rights as local residents have under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
You have the right to ask your landlord (the owner of the rental property) or property manager to meet the obligations agreed in your rental lease - this will not affect your visa.
Types of rental accommodation
It is important to understand the different types of rental accommodation available in Victoria, as there are different rules for each.
A rooming house is a house or apartment where one or more rooms are rented to four or more people. Rooming house residents usually have individual agreements with the owner, rather than sharing a rental contract.
You should check that a rooming house is registered before you sign an agreement or move in as registered rooming houses must meet minimum standards for privacy, security and safety. Read our information to find out what your rooming house must have:
To see if a rooming house is registered, check our Public register of rooming houses.
When you agree to move in to a rooming house, the owner must give you:
A private rental means that you have private use of a whole apartment or house. You will sign a tenancy agreement (also called a lease), which is a contract between you and your landlord or estate agent. The lease states the rent and bond amount, how often the rent is to be paid, the length and type of tenancy, and other conditions and rules. View our Before signing the lease page.
A share house is when you share a private rental with friends or housemates. All tenants are listed on the lease and pay their own share of rent and bond.
Sub-letting is when a tenant rents out a room in the home they are living in to another person who is not on the lease. If someone offers you a room to rent in a sub-letting arrangement, you should ask them to show you that they have written permission from their landlord, before you agree to move in and pay them any money. If a tenant sublets without the landlord's written permission, the landlord can end the tenant's lease and your lease agreement with the tenant.
For more information on share houses and sub-letting, view our Types of rental agreements page.
Boarding or homestay
Boarding or homestay is when you rent a room in a home, and live with the home owners. This is a private agreement between you and the home owner, which does not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. For information on your rights in a private agreement, view our Contracts section.
A landlord, estate agent or owner may ask you for a ‘holding deposit’ before you sign a lease. They must refund it after both you and they have signed the lease. If the lease is not signed within 14 days, the deposit must be given back to you by the next business day.
A landlord or agent cannot charge fees for other things, such as administration. If you are unsure if you should pay for something, contact us.
If your landlord, estate agent or owner asks you to pay a bond, they must:
- give you a completed bond lodgement form for you to sign
- lodge the bond with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA). You will receive a confirmation letter from the RTBA within two weeks of your bond being lodged
- prepare a condition report, which notes the general condition of the property. See 'Condition report' below.
If you cause damage or fail to keep the property clean at the end of your tenancy, your landlord can claim some or all of the bond.
View our Lodging the bond page.
If you pay a bond, your landlord, estate agent or owner must prepare a condition report. This document records the general condition of the property or room, including fittings and fixtures, such as carpets, curtains and heaters.
Your landlord or estate agent must give you two signed copies of this report before you move in.
Once you have moved in, inspect the property and fill in the report with any existing damage, such as cracks, marks on the walls, or broken handles. Also note on the condition report if you disagree with what the landlord or agent has written.
You must complete and return one signed copy of the condition report to the landlord or property manager within three days of moving in, and keep the second copy of the condition report as a record for yourself. You will need it at the end of your tenancy if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage, or replacement of missing items.
View our Condition report page.
While you are renting
Pay your rent on time. You are entitled to receive a receipt for each rent payment. View our Rent responsibilities and receipts page.
Tell your landlord or estate agent about any repairs that need to be done. See important information about repairs in our Repairs, maintenance and changes to the property section.
If your tenancy agreement is a periodic lease – that is, a month-by-month agreement - you must give 28 days written notice to your landlord/agent when you decide to leave. You must still pay rent for the 28 days.
If you have a fixed term lease - for example, 12 months - and you plan to move out on the date your lease ends, you must still give 28 days written notice to your property manager or landlord.
Check the minimum notice periods to end your lease, and download the forms for giving notice from our:
Important renting tips
- Do not sign anything unless you understand what it means.
- Never sign a blank form, even if it looks official.
- Keep a copy of anything you sign.
- Ask for a receipt every time you have to pay for something, and keep the receipt in a safe place.
- Do not pay a deposit or bond if you have not visited the property yourself.
- Ensure you receive confirmation from the RTBA that your bond has been lodged.
- Check our website or call us for free advice if you have a renting problem or question.
- Lodging a complaint about your landlord or property manager will not affect your student visa.
- Ask your school for help and advice.
- Know where you stand with share house living.
Information in other languages
Ask for help when things go wrong
For more information on your renting rights:
- view our Renting section
- search our rental bond information
- call our helpline on 1300 55 81 81. Calling us costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile or payphone.
For advice and information in languages other than English, call 131 450 and say the English name of your language. Then ask the interpreter to call 1300 55 81 81.
Your consumer rights in Victoria
Knowing your consumer rights will help you avoid problems when you buy products or services. View our information on:
Other organisations that help international students
Study Melbourne Student Centre
The Study Melbourne Student Centre is a free and confidential support and welfare service for international students studying in Victoria. Call its 24-hour phone line on 1800 056 449 (free call from landline phones) or visit the Study Melbourne website.
Study Melbourne also has a list of other support services for international students on their Help and advice page.
Fair Work Commission
If you work, the Fair Work Commission can help you with information about workplace matters such as how much you are paid, the conditions where you work, or if you lose your job.
For information and advice, call the commission’s national help line on 1300 799 675 or visit the Fair Work Commission website.
For information and advice, call (03) 9416 2577 Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm, or visit the Tenants Victoria website.
Refuge of Hope
Refuge of Hope is a non-profit organisation that provides assistance and advice to refugees and international students from Latin America.
For more information, visit the Refuge of Hope website.
Problems with your education course
If you cannot resolve a problem or complaint with your education provider, contact:
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