Affordable accommodation in Sydney is difficult to find. For most students their biggest cost is rent.
Questions to consider when choosing accommodation include how much you can afford to spend on rent, what facilities you require, where you would like to live, and how much control you’d like to have over your accommodation.
The University produces an excellent accommodation guide that explains the different types of accommodation both on and off campus.
Scam alert! Be careful when looking for accommodation online
When you’re looking for a place to live, you should never pay or sign anything until you’ve inspected the property or sent someone you know to inspect it for you.
Be careful of scams when looking for places online. Sometimes fake landlords advertise online, claiming to be renting out a room or an apartment. These ads typically have an address and lots of photos of a real place which the fake landlord has downloaded from the internet.
In each case, the person pretending to be the landlord claims they can’t show you the place because they’re overseas or away. They are usually happy to provide copies of their passport as well as other official documents and tenancy agreements to trick you into believing they are legitimate. But the agreements are fake, and the copy of the passport, or other documents, have often been stolen from another person.
The fake landlord will tell you to transfer money into a bank account or through a money transfer company to secure the accommodation, and they will promise to send you the keys by courier. Once the money has been deposited the landlord is never heard from again and can’t be located – meaning you are not able to ever get your money back.
Don’t be a victim of this scam! Always inspect the property before agreeing to move in. Don’t ever send identity documents and don’t transfer money to anyone if you haven’t seen the property for yourself or had someone you know inspect it for you.
It is important to know how to protect yourself when looking for housing. Here is a list of important things to keep in mind:
Because housing in Sydney is expensive, some landlords offer accommodation in overcrowded dwellings that are illegally subdivided. This can look like:
These kinds of arrangements are often insecure and can be hazardous for students. They are often in breach of building codes and are at risk of being shut down by council authorities. You should be very cautious when entering into these kinds of arrangements. Confirm with the landlord how many people live in the property before you decide to move in. If you are unsure about your housing arrangement, contact us for advice.
In NSW, landlords can issue tenants with a no-fault termination of your lease. If they issue a no-fault termination, they are required to give you 21 days’ notice at the end of your fixed term, or 90 days’ notice if you are on a periodic (month-to-month) agreement.
If this time period lapses and you have not yet found alternative housing, you cannot be forcibly evicted by the landlord, or their agent. In most situations, you can’t be lawfully evicted without an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). This means your landlord or head tenant can’t change locks or throw out your goods. until you’ve had an opportunity to seek professional advice.
If you are living in a boarding house, the landlord must only give you ‘reasonable’ notice, and does not need an order from NCAT to effect an evict you.
Our Postgraduate Advocacy Service can provide you with free advice and assistance with tenancy matters. You can also contact your local Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service for free advice and assistance.
If you have nowhere to stay you can contact Link2Home on 1800 152 152 for referrals to accommodation providers and other support services. This is a free 24-hour service provided by the NSW Government. If you need somewhere to stay because of domestic violence, you can call the Link2Home domestic violence line: 1800 656 463.
The University also offers emergency accommodation for a limited period of 2 weeks. Contact us for a referral and information.
This information is current as at March 2023 and where it includes legal information is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.
Download this article as a Word document
Download this article as a PDF
Written by SUPRA Postgraduate Advocacy Service March 2023