What Will It Cost to Move In?
You need to be certain of how much you will have to pay when you find a place to rent. If you are having problems getting enough money to meet the costs, see chapter 1.06 Financial Assistance for Tenants.
At the beginning of the tenancy you may ONLY be charged:
- A Security Bond (in most circumstances no more than 4 week’s rent) (Residential Tenancies Act, section 29(1)(b)(i));
- A Pet Bond (if you have a cat or dog – $260 max) (s.29(1)(b)(ii));
- Two weeks rent in advance (s.28(1)); and
- An Option fee (s.27(2)(a)). This is sometimes charged when making an application for tenancy. An option fee is usually no more than 1 week’s rent, and the money is returned if application unsuccessful or deducted from rent if application is successful. If you get the property and decide not to move in, you may forfeit your right to the option fee and it may not be returned.
The owner may be liable for a penalty of $1000 if they require you to pay costs you do not have to pay under tenancy laws (s.27).
Make sure you get a receipt for any money you pay. Your receipt should show how much you paid and exactly what it was for.
DISCLAIMER: While making every attempt to present general legal information accurately in this publication, TAS claims no liability for any loss or damage arising from its use. This publication should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.
The bond is paid as security to the owner for any damage to the premises that may occur and/or for any monies you may owe at the end of the tenancy.
The most you can be charged for a security bond is 4 weeks rent unless:
- The rent is more than $1200 per week (then there is no limit) (s.29(2)(a) and Regulation 15 (b)); or
- The owner has lived in the premised as their main place of residence for at least 3 months, and has just moved out (then there is no limit) (s.29(2)(b) and Regulation 15 (a)).
See The Security Bond for more information about the security bond.
The owner/agent can face a penalty of $1000 if an unlawful amount of bond is charged (s.29).
If you are allowed to keep a dog or a cat, you can be charged $260 total as a pet bond (s.29(1)(b)(ii); Regulation 15).
You can only be charged one pet bond even if you have more than one pet.
The pet bond is to cover the costs of fumigation which may arise at the end of the tenancy because you have a pet.
If fumigation is not necessary, the pet bond must be returned in full to the tenant. The owner/agent cannot use the pet bond for any other purpose.
Rent in Advance
When you start a new tenancy the owner can ONLY ask for two weeks rent in advance (s28(1): penalty $1000).
The owner cannot ask you for the next rent payment until the first rent in advance period has run out (s28(2): penalty $1000). Your tenancy agreement should show how often you will pay rent after the first two weeks.
For example, your tenancy agreement may say that rent is payable weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It is important to work out when rent is due and try to arrange for it to coincide with your pay period.
You may be asked to pay an Option Fee when you apply for a place (the amount is usually no more than 1 week’s rent). If you are asked to pay an option fee and you get the place, the money should be put towards your rent payments.
If you don’t get the place, the law states that the money must be refunded (Residential Tenancies Act, s.27).
If you get the property and decide not to move in, you may forfeit your right to the option fee and it may not be returned. Also see The Application for Tenancyand The Option Fee for more information.
Other costs associated with moving in
When you move into rental premises you often need to have services such as gas, electricity and the telephone, connected in your name.
There may be a cost for this.
You will need to contact the relevant service providers to organise this – Alinta Gas, Synergy and Telstra (or other phone companies such as Optus).
There may be a wait period for connection, so it is a good idea to contact these companies BEFORE you move in.
If it is a term of your tenancy agreement that you pay water costs, make sure a water meter reading is done. If this has not been done, you should do it yourself and make a note on your Property Condition Report. See Water Charges for more information.
Meter Reading Charges
If the electricity and gas accounts are not in your name make sure electricity and gas readings are taken when you first move in. If the owner/agent doesn’t do this, you should do it yourself. Make sure you make a note of the readings, for example on the property condition report.
It is also best to have a witness.
If your place has sub-meters for electricity and/or gas, you may be charged a fee every time the meters are read and accounts prepared. Such charges may be in breach of section 27 of the Residential Tenancies Act even if has been written into your tenancy agreement.
For more information, see Electricity and Gas Meters.
Strata and Property Fees
The owner is responsible for all rates and taxes on the property (s.48).
However, this section may be “contracted out” in your tenancy agreement by the owner/agent, meaning that you may be held liable for the property rates and taxes!
MAKE SURE TO READ YOUR TENANCY AGREEMENT CAREFULLY – see The Tenancy Agreement for more information on “contracting out”.
Tenants Advice Service – Tenants’ Rights Manual August 2011
Remember to take into account:
- Furniture removal;
- Buying household items;
- Paying for mail to be redirected from your previous residence.