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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 agreement 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 rental provider or rooming house owner to fix any problems before you pay money or sign an agreement.
If you sign a rental agreement but then change your mind and decide you do not want to live there, you may have to pay extra money to end the agreement. You can read more about Breaking a rental agreement.
Renting in Victoria
You have the same renting rights as local residents have under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
You have the right to ask your rental provider or property manager to meet the obligations agreed in your rental agreement (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 building where at least four people can rent rooms and access communal facilities. Each resident has an individual rental agreement. It is different to a share house, where everyone signs the same agreement.
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:
- their contact details
- the Rooming houses guide
- a written list of your rights and duties as a resident
- the house rules
- a notice stating if your room is exclusive or shared and if so, how many people are sharing the room
- a notice stating any additional costs for services (for example, cleaning or meals).
A list of your rights and duties and a copy of the house rules must also be displayed in your bedroom.
A private rental means that you have private use of a whole apartment or house. You will sign a rental agreement, which is a contract between you and your rental provider or their agent. The rental agreement states the rent and bond amount, how often the rent is to be paid, the length and type of agreement, and other conditions and rules. Read more about signing a rental agreement.
A share house is when you share a private rental with friends or housemates. All renters are listed on the rental agreement and pay their own share of rent and bond.
Sub-letting is when a renter (a head renter) rents out a room in the home they are living in to another person who is not on the rental agreement. 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 rental provider, before you agree to move in and pay them any money. If a renter sub-lets without the rental provider’s written permission, the rental provider can end the renter’s rental agreement and your agreement with the renter.
You can read more about renting in a sharehouse or subletting.
Boarding or homestay
Boarding or homestay is when you rent a room in a home, and live with the home owner. 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 Contracts.
A rental provider, agent or owner may ask you for a ‘holding deposit’ before you sign a rental agreement. They must refund it after both you and they have signed the rental agreement. If the agreement is not signed within 14 days, the deposit must be given back to you by the next business day.
A rental provider 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.
If you cause damage or fail to keep the property clean at the end of your tenancy, your rental provider can claim some or all of the bond.
View Lodging the bond.
If you pay a bond, your rental provider (landlord), estate agent or rooming house 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 rental provider or agent must give you two signed copies of this report before you move in. This can be done electronically if you have agreed to that.
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 check if any appliances that came with the property work. Also note on the condition report if you disagree with what the rental provider or agent has written. Take close up photos of any damage to support your comments.
You must complete and return one signed copy of the condition report to the rental provider or agent 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 rental agreement if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage, or replacement of missing items.
You can read more about Condition reports.
While you are renting
Pay your rent on time. To calculate rent for daily, monthly or other payment periods, use our Rent calculator.
You are entitled to receive a receipt for each rent payment.
Tell your rental provider (landlord) or agent about any repairs that need to be done. You can read more about repairs.
If your rental agreement is periodic (a month-by-month agreement), you must give 28 days written notice to your rental provider or agent when you decide to leave. You must still pay rent for the 28 days.
If you have a fixed term agreement – for example, 12 months – and you plan to move out on the date your agreement ends, you must still give 28 days written notice to your property manager or rental provider.
If you are living in a rooming house, you will have to give the rooming house operator at least 2 days’ notice if you want to leave or 14 days if you have a fixed-term rooming house agreement.
Check the minimum notice periods to end your rental agreement, and download the forms for giving notice from:
If you want to move out early you can break the lease, but there are different notice requirements. You may have to pay a fee if you move out early, too. Read more about Breaking a rental agreement.
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 rental provider (landlord) or agent will not affect your student visa.
- Ask your school for help and advice.
- Know where you stand with share house living.
Ask for help when things go wrong
For more information on your renting rights:
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 Hub
The Study Melbourne Hub provides international students in Victoria with confidential advice and support on range of issues including:
- financial hardship
- wellbeing and mental health support
- legal information
- education providers.
To access the Hub:
- visit 17 Hardware Lane, Melbourne 3000, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
- call 1800 056 449 (24 hours).
The International Student Employment and Accommodation Legal Service (ISEALS) is a specialised legal service exclusively for international students in Victoria. The service is run through Study Melbourne and provides international students with free, independent and confidential legal advice on issues including:
- rental properties that fall below standard
- bond and rent
- changes to renting arrangements.
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.
For information and advice, call 03 9416 2577 Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm, or visit Tenants Victoria.
Problems with your education course
If you cannot resolve a problem or complaint with your education provider, contact: