Although you’re not planning to land yourself with the responsibilities of actual property ownership, renting is still an activity that demands rigorous attention to detail. Renting the wrong property – possibly with the wrong people – can lead to discontent all around.

So, what should you know about renting to make it a happy experience – whether long term or short term? The information you require can be broken into:

  • The rental property you can afford
  • The type of accommodation you would like to rent
  • The location you would like to rent in

The rental property you can afford
Three central costs are associated with renting, being:

  • Start-up costs
  • Periodic rental payments
  • Your day-to-day living costs

Scrupulous budgeting is required to manage these three cost areas. Inability to maintain control in any or all of these areas might see you miscalculate your total expenditure and blow your budget. Assessing your cashflow is imperative; you may spend money on the bond, furniture and the first month’s rent only to discover you cannot afford to purchase food and other necessities.

Be realistic about what you can afford each week or month on your rental expenses. Allow enough slack in your budget to cope with unanticipated costs in addition to normal living expenses. No one plans to catch the flu or select a set date for their car accidents. It would be prudent to apportion another 10% of expenditure to ensure you have covered unforeseen expenses.

If you’re saving for a future expense such as a deposit for a home, you should budget for the regular savings as an outgoing. Setting up special savings accounts for these amounts is a useful way of avoiding otherwise spending the money on entertainment.

Your start-up costs are likely to include:

  • Bond payments
  • Rental in advance
  • Moving costs
  • Utility expenses (connecting to gas, telephone, electricity etc)
  • Your furniture bed, tables, chairs, decorations etc
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Linen

Ask yourself whether you have sufficient funds to cover these items. Remember that many of items can be purchased cheaply – second hand or borrowed from friends and family members.

The type of accommodation you would like to rent

There is a wide range of rental accommodation available. Included are:

  • Private rental
  • Boarding
  • Campus residential colleges
  • Caravans
  • Public and community housing

Private rental is housing owned by either businesses or individuals and leased to tenants. As such, it is the most common form of accommodation for people who do not own property and are ineligible for public housing.
Co-tenancy occurs when more than one person shares the accommodation and each signs the Tenancy Agreement. Each co-tenant has equal responsibility for taking care of the premises and paying the rent.

Sub-letting occurs when the premises houses both the "head-tenant", whose name is on the lease, and one or more "sub-tenants", who are not registered on the lease. The head-tenant holds all responsibility for the premises, while sub-tenants are not entitled by law to the rights and protections that may be provided under the lease agreement.

Boarding is the act of renting a room, as distinct from renting or sharing a house or flat. Examples of this form of accommodation include self-contained residences in boarding/rooming houses and lodging in private houses often with a family.

Rooming/boarding houses are covered by residential tenancy laws in most states of Australia. Lodgers, however, are not protected by any residential tenancy or discrimination laws.

Campus residential colleges are for students, and can be located both on- and off-campus. Students obtain numerous conveniences in this type of accommodation. These include furnished premises, proximity to campus, relatively cheap rent and often catering facilities as well as access to other amenities and services.

Most University campuses have associated residential colleges. Information on this type of accommodation can generally be found by contacting a University's Student Housing Officer on campus. Be aware however, that the demand for this type of accommodation often exceeds the total availability.

Caravans located in caravan parks are generally covered by state and territory regulations. Where caravans are situated in residential areas, such as a back yard, local council regulations may apply.

Public and community housing is administered by government and community organisations. This form of housing is available for people on low to medium incomes, as well as special groups, such as people with disabilities. Demand for public housing is great and often a waiting list is the requirement after assessment of your application.

The location you would like to rent in

You will undoubtedly have a preferred location to live according to your budget and lifestyle. Study the average rental values of the suburbs you prefer. Lifestyle is an important consideration. Take stock of the things that are important to you.

Commuting

  • Work place close
  • Access to public transport
  • Family/friends nearby
  • Shopping facilities
  • Medical facilities

Education

  • Childcare
  • Pre-school
  • Primary school
  • Secondary school
  • University

Recreation

  • Parks
  • Sporting facilities (e.g. sports grounds, gyms, tennis courts, pools, etc.)
  • Beaches
  • Libraries
  • Entertainment

Environment

  • Appealing streetscape
  • Low noise area (away from traffic, flight paths and industry)
  • Clean air