Simple guide for first-time renters

couple sitting on couch surrounded by packing boxes

Nina Hendy

Posted March 04, 2022

Renting for the first time can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Moving out of home and renting for the first time is an exciting time in life. But there are a few things you need to know before signing your first lease to ensure it’s smooth sailing.

10 things that first-time renters need to know

You must apply 

Deciding you like the property is one thing. Whether or not the rental provider likes you is another matter entirely. 

You will need to apply to rent the property, and that means providing a number of documents to strengthen your application. Having these ready to go before you start looking at properties is wise. 

Make sure you have some recent pay slips handy, a reference from your employer and a couple of personal references, such as a neighbour or friend.  

A recent bill that verifies your current residential address and photo identification will also be useful.

Understand the extra costs 

The weekly rent you will need to pay is only one element of renting. The other costs that you are likely to be up for include the power, water and gas bills. 

Aside from that, you’ll need to furnish your new home, which adds up pretty quickly.

The garden is also likely to be your responsibility, so prepare to invest in some gardening tools or a lawn mower if the property has a lawn as well.  

Prepare to fork over the bond 

There are more costs involved in renting than merely the weekly rent. To start with, you will need to factor in the bond, which covers any damage and other costs that property owner may need to pay once the renter moves out. 

The most that can be charged as Rental Bond in Victoria is the equivalent of one month’s rent when the weekly rent is $900 or less. The Bond needs to be deposited with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority. 

It won’t come with a cleaner 

If you’ve been living under your parent’s roof, the chances are that you might not be completely aware of how much cleaning is involved in keeping a home. 

Regular weekly cleans will be important, because the property will inspected by the rental provider or their agent. You will be expected to do more than just vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. Cobwebs and gardens will be your responsibility.

You will need to seek permission to house a pet in your rental property.
Understand the extra costs, such as paying monthly bills, normally done online.
As of March 2021, all rental properties must have a working heater in the living room.

Inspections are the norm 

Regardless of whether the property is managed by a letting agent or by the home owner, they are going to want to conduct inspections of the property to check the condition of the property and to ensure you are looking after it adequately.

These inspections are usually conducted every six months, and you need to be given seven days’ notice before your home is entered, according to Consumer Affairs

There’s rules around pets 

Renters who have a pet must seek permission before signing the lease to ensure that you are allowed to keep a pet at the home. 

The rental provider can try to negotiate conditions for keeping a pet on the property, such as saying the pet is not allowed inside. If the renter doesn’t agree to the conditions and you’ve been asked to remove the pet, you can apply to VCAT, according to Consumer Affairs Victoria.  

Check the heating 

When you’re inspecting properties to rent, make sure you take note of whether the property has adequate heating and cooling. 

As of March 2021, the main living room of the property must have a fixed heater that’s in good working order. Portable heaters don’t fit the criteria.

Bear in mind that if you’re living upstairs, hot air rises and the property could be unbearable by the time that summer rolls around. So check for cooling too if the property is likely to get particularly hot. 

You’re going to need renters insurance 

Obtaining specific renters insurance is strongly recommended, which provides cover for loss or damage to your personal items at the property in the event of a fire, theft or storm, for example. 

Leading renters insurance policies also provide temporary accommodation if a rental property is unliveable following an insured event.

Learn more about what renters insurance is and how it helps tenants from this video:

Learn more about the benefits of RACV Renters Insurance

Be prepared to sign on the dotted line 

You will be expected to sign a residential tenancy agreement, or lease. This can feel a little overwhelming for first-time renters, but you are going to need a legal contract between you and the rental provider. It’s designed to protect both of you. 

The agreement should include information about how much rent you need to pay each week or month, how long the tenancy period will be, the amount of bond you need to pay, and details on what will happen if you break the lease, or you’re asked to leave before the agreement expires. 


There will be a condition report 

You will be provided with a property condition report when moving into the property. It notes the state of the property when you first move in, which acts as a benchmark when the lease starts. If there’s damage to the property during the time you’re living there, it will be obvious because it won’t be mentioned on the condition report. 

This report can be used as evidence if there is a dispute, so take the time to look over it closely before signing it and be sure to note any existing damage or issues with the property. 

Safeguard yourself from financial loss with RACV Renters Insurance.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.