About to move out of UTS Housing and finding the idea a little daunting? Finding an affordable place in Sydney isn’t the easiest thing to do. As the check-out dates approach, it’s time to get serious about accommodation, and luckily, we’re here to help.
Here are six steps to kick off your search for a new home:
Decide on location and price
First things first! You need to know what you’re looking for before you start looking. Location is incredibly important in a future home – consider the distance to your place of work or study, public transport options, local facilities (shops, gyms, libraries, etc.) and safety concerns, if any.
Figure out how much you can comfortably set aside for rent each week. Be sure to factor in bills, including gas, electricity, telephone, water (in houses only), internet and potential travelling costs. As many agency rentals come unfurnished, you might also need to purchase furniture – consider second-hand stores like St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army, value stores like Fantastic Furniture and online trading sites like Gumtree.
The internet is a wonderful resource for finding accommodation.
- Domain and Real Estate.com.au are both widely used by those looking to buy, rent and sell property. Most listings are through agents, making the process more secure. These sites are best for finding private accommodation rather than a spot in a sharehouse. Keep in mind that contracts with agencies are usually for a minimum of 12 months.
- UTS Study Stays is a free listing service for private accommodation. Log in using your UTS student number and password to browse listings, filtering by price and distance from UTS.
- Flatmates.com.au is designed to help you find rooms in existing sharehouses, find flatmates, and find properties to share. You can also create a profile and post a ‘looking for’ ad to help future roommates find you.
- Facebook is becoming increasingly popular for people looking to advertise shared rooms and share accommodation. The advantage here is that you can easily find the profiles of the advertiser and potential roommates and contact them if you need. Groups are organised by location, such as these:
Prepare your application
Each property application requires an application form, so be sure to have all your documents ready. 1Form is a free website to automate the application process. Instead of filling out a different application for each property, 1Form allows you to send the real estate agent* your pre-filled form online.
Property application forms usually require at least 100 points of identification, such as a passport, driver’s license, credit card, etc. Check with the relevant agent to see what they require. You can also collect a copy of your rental history from UTS Housing (email email@example.com or visit the front desk) to support your application.
Preparing everything the agent requires not only speeds up the process but helps distinguish your application from the others. Showing that you’re organised and can complete tasks in a timely manner assures them that you’ll be a good choice.
*1Form isn’t accepted by every agent, see the website to find out which agents do.
Check out the property
Once you’ve found a number of suitable places, organise visits to the open house held by each of the properties. This will often be between 15 and 20 minutes, usually on the weekend. Bring copies of your supporting documentation and arrive at least five minutes early so that you can make the most of the time. For listings that don’t use an agent, organise a time to inspect the
property. It’s also a good idea to chat to the existing residents to find out more about the place and ask any unanswered questions you may have. As this part will be the most time-consuming, organise your visits beforehand and put in the effort to see as much as you can of each property. After all, you’re going to be living there.
General tips for signing contracts
- Never sign any long or fixed term contract without having seen the property. Only once you have viewed the property and are happy with it can the landlord/agent ask for a bond (maximum value of 4 weeks’ rent) plus two weeks’ rent.
- Always make sure you read and understand the whole contract before signing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Avoid cash payments. If you must pay by cash for some reason, make sure you received a detailed receipt (including full name, description, date, address, amount and signature etc).
- Make sure you have a detailed written (rather than verbal) agreement.
- Keep and store any communication between yourself and the landlord/agency, such as emails or SMS.
Ask for help if you need it
UTS Housing is here to support you. You can find further in-depth info on share accommodation and leasing on our website. Don’t hesitate to come to the front desk or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns, need help or are just looking for some advice.
We’ve also made our own free, full guide to leasing private accommodation in Sydney, including average rental prices and a handy map.
For more complex issues, UTS also offers free legal advice for current UTS students, located on level five of the Tower building. Email email@example.com to make an appointment or check out the Facebook page for drop-in times.
Disclaimer: UTS Housing Service does not endorse any of the services mentioned above. We urge students to stay vigilant when searching for accommodation, as not all adverts are genuine. We also recommend having a friend or family member with when arranging individual meetings or visits.
Banner photography: FotoSleuth, Flickr.