Finding housing and accommodation

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Finding a property

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.

Tips for finding the right accommodation

  1. Be careful and watch out for scams! Many students have lost money by agreeing to pay for fake rental listings posted online.
  2. Check the University Accommodation Service’s accommodation database.
  3. Some useful Facebook groups include Inner West Housemates (Newtown, Enmore, Marrickville etc.); Inner East Housemates (Surry Hills, Darlington, Redfern etc.); and Queer Housing Sydney (for LGBTQA+ friendly accommodation). Be sure to check our share housing advice if you are considering moving into share accommodation.
  4. The Tenants’ Union of NSW’s rent-tracker lists average rents for all Sydney local government areas.
  5. It’s a good idea to rent somewhere that has access to public transport. Buses are less reliable than trains, so it’s good to live near a train station.
  6. Express trains make it easier to live further from campus. For example, Parramatta is about 25kms from Camperdown campus, but less than 25 minutes to Redfern Station by express train.
  7. If you have a car, you’ll need to consider parking options. Some properties don’t include off-street parking, or have limited parking spots. Also, parking on or near main campus is limited, and student parking permits offered during 2020-2022 are no longer available.
  8. If you’re a local student on a low income, and you’re finding it difficult to pay bond for a private rental, you may be able to apply for a bond loan from the NSW Government DCJ Housing.

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 propertybefore 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.

Know your rights

It is important to know how to protect yourself when looking for housing. Here is a list of important things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t pay any money, sign anything or send your personal documents to anyone until you’ve inspected the property.
  • You can’t be asked to pay more than advertised. As of December 2022, real estate agents are legally prohibited from soliciting rent offers higher than the advertised price (this is known as rent bidding).
  • Keep copies of all documentation, which should include a written agreement, a condition report, and receipts for any payments you make, such as bond or security deposit and rent.
  • Get the full legal name and residential (or business) address of the person you’re renting from (the property owner, their rental agent, or the leaseholder). The full legal name of the landlord and one method of contacting them needs to be provided on your Residential Tenancy Agreement, even if they rent their property through an agent.
  • Take photos or video of everything in the property when you are doing your condition report, make sure they are date stamped.
  • When issues arise, communicate with your landlord (or head tenant) in writing. Email or letter are best, but SMS or messaging are okay too – just make sure you keep a copy so you can print it off later if you need to).
  • Keep copies of all correspondence with the person you are renting from.
  • The agent or landlord must offer you the option of lodging your bond online with the NSW government service, Rental Bonds Online – this is the safest method for lodging your bond. If you choose not to use Rental Bonds Online, your landlord must deposit your bond with Fair Trading and not in their own bank account. Contact Fair Trading if you do not receive a confirmation.
  • Read more about tenancy law: before you move in, during your tenancy and moving out.

Illegal subdivision and overcrowding

Because housing in Sydney is expensive, some landlords offer accommodation in overcrowded dwellings that are illegally subdivided. This can look like:

  • room sharing
  • ‘hot-bedding’ (renting a bed for specific hours of each day while someone else rents the other hours)
  • a partitioned section of a common area (for example, part of the living room)
  • outbuildings such as garages, sheds, and caravans.

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.

Are you facing eviction?

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.

Further assistance

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. 

Sydney University students who require emergency accommodation may be able to stay at STUCCO, a student managed housing cooperative located in Newtown. Contact us for a referral.

The University also offers emergency accommodation for a limited period of 2 weeks. Contact us for a referral and information.

Useful links


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.

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Written by SUPRA Postgraduate Advocacy Service March 2023

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