Leaving home and becoming independent can be a very exciting time. Before you enjoy your new-found freedom, there are some things you should consider.
One of the key things you should think about are the costs – initial and ongoing. Initial one-off expenses include things like a bond, rent in advance and perhaps removalists or buying furniture.
Ongoing costs include regular expenses such as food, rent, water, gas, electricity, phone and internet bills, and, of course, entertainment.
Here’s a moving out checklist you might find useful:
Create a budget
Make sure you have enough money to cover your expenses and other things that are important to you.
Pay off existing bills
Avoid unnecessary late fees, return library books, DVDs and cancel your memberships if needed.
Research the area
Where is the closest train station or bus stop, supermarket and petrol station?
Set up utilities
Arrange electricity, internet and pay TV connections.
If your new place doesn’t come furnished, budget for some new or second-hand furniture.
Find a removalist
Either bribe a few family members or friends to help you, or book a removalist. With removalists, it’s a good idea to check online reviews to make sure they are legitimate.
Redirect your mail
Make a list of everyone who needs to know your new address, such as your bank, employer and service providers—electricity, gas, council and so on. And don’t forget about your Medicare card and driver’s licence. In the meantime, ask your local post office to re-direct your mail.
Your budget will largely determine your living arrangements. If you have the money, you might prefer to live on your own. Alternatively, you could share a flat with friends or even strangers. Depending on who you live with, your arrangements will tend to be more formal or informal.
Formal living arrangements
Sharing a lease with housemates is a formal living arrangement. This means you must sign legally binding contracts such as a tenancy agreement and contracts for services such as electricity, water, gas and internet.
Since all housemates are on the tenancy agreement, they are equally responsible for paying the rent, the bond and any damage costs.
Any of the housemates can be solely liable for debt owed to the landlord. So it’s important to understand any contracts before you sign them. Read them thoroughly. Don’t forget the fine print and understand your obligations. Be aware of the consequences if you cancel a contract. For example, if you break your lease early, you will need to pay an early-exit fee.
Think about whether you can afford the repayments you commit to because if you can’t pay your rent or bills, it could affect your credit rating. And a bad credit rating could affect your ability to borrow money in the future, for example, when you want to buy a house.
Informal living arrangements
Renting a room or a part of a house from another tenant without signing a lease is called an informal living arrangement. While you still need to pay your share of bills for utilities, such as electricity, water and gas, there are no legally binding contracts.
In arrangements like this, the principal tenant you are renting from will have signed the rental agreement with the real estate agent or owner of the property.
If you are the informal tenant
If you are in an informal living situation, make sure to get a written agreement with the principal tenant that covers how much rent you’ll be paying and how household bills will be divided and paid. This agreement can be very useful to set agreed rules and could be used to resolve conflicts.
If you are the principal tenant
If you are the principal tenant, be careful who you choose as an informal housemate. If things don’t work out and your informal tenant stops paying their rent and bills, you could end up out of pocket. You will also be responsible for any damage caused by the informal tenant because it’s your lease agreement. As a result, you could end up in debt or with a negative rental history which can affect your ability to rent another property in the future.
Protect yourself by asking your informal tenant to sign an agreement and pay a bond (usually four weeks rent) as well as rent in advance (usually two weeks).
The bond is a security deposit held to cover any damages the informal tenant may cause during their tenancy. It will be returned once the informal tenant moves out.
Other things to put into your agreement should include:
- notice required (2 weeks in advance)
- amount of rent to be paid
- amount of bond charged
- house rules
- how utility payments are divided.
As a tenant, it is important that you know your rights. Every state has different rules and regulations. To find out more about your state or territory’s policy and seek advice, see these websites:
- NSW: https://tenants.org.au
- VIC: https://www.tuv.org.au/
- ACT: http://www.tenantsact.org.au/
- WA: http://www.tenancywa.org.au/
- QLD: https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/Before-you-rent
- NT: https://www.dcls.org.au/legal-and-advocacy-services/tenants-advice/
- SA: https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/housing/renting-and-letting
- TAS: http://tutas.org.au/