If you’re staying only short term (say, less than three years), you may be better off renting. For those staying longer than three years, buying is usually the better option, particularly as paying a mortgage on a house or apartment is generally no more expensive (and often cheaper) than renting. It’s also more difficult to rent than buy a good property in most cities. All proposed acquisitions of urban property by non-resident foreigners must be approved by the:
Foreign Investment Review Board
c/o Department of the Treasury
Langton Crescent, ACT 2600
Most properties in Australian cities are rented through agents, whose main task is to screen prospective tenants. Always dress neatly when visiting properties or agents’ offices in order to create a good impression. When registering with an agent, you need two forms of identification (e.g. driving license and passport), written references from your employer and/or previous landlord, and character references. Agents usually contact all referees and may ask why you left your previous accommodation. If you have a pet, you may need a reference from your previous landlord stating that it was clean and well behaved, but animals aren’t usually permitted in rented apartments. You must complete a registration form and should ensure that it’s complete and correct in every detail, or you might jeopardize your chances.
Most letting agencies and estate agents charge tenants a fee of two weeks’ rent for a one-year lease and one week’s rent for a six-month lease, which are the legal maximum fees. Usually, you’re expected to pay one month’s rent in advance, depending on the type of property and the rental agreement, plus a bond (see below) which is held against damages. Tenants must also pay a fee for the lease document, plus a deposit for electricity and gas. Beware of hidden extras such as a fee for connecting the electricity, gas or telephone (or a refundable deposit).
When renting property in Australia, a bond (deposit) must be paid in advance. The bond is usually equal to between four and six weeks’ rent, and is normally higher for furnished than unfurnished properties, and can be as much as eight months’ rent for a luxury furnished property (the bond is unlimited in NSW on fully furnished properties costing over $250 a week). It’s lodged with the Rental Bond Board together with a copy of the inspection (condition) report. Information regarding rental bonds can be obtained fromƒv free call 1800-422 021.