Steps to finding accommodation
There are a few steps to finding accommodation that we recommend you follow.
1. Look on the map
Whereis.com is a great external resource for location information, maps and directions. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the location of the University and the surrounding suburbs and to locate services and facilities close to the campus that are important to you. These may include sporting facilities, public transport options, schools or churches. Checking the map will help you identify your location preferences.
2. Decide where to live
Which suburbs would suit you best? Do you wish to live closer to the University or the city, or would you prefer to live near the beach? Find out about more about the suburbs in and around Newcastle or Central Coast.
3. Consider how much money you can afford to pay for rent
Renting is an ongoing financial commitment, and you need to work out your financial capacity before taking on a lease. Our downloadable Budget Form (Word) may help you with your preparation.
Make sure you have references (in English), as you may be asked to supply these to landlords or real estate agents as part of the application process.
5. Know your rights and responsibilities
It is your responsibility to make sure that the housing option you chose suits your needs. Any arrangements with housing providers, financial or otherwise, are strictly between you and the provider of housing. Be very clear about your housing agreement with a housing provider. You can find out more information about these issues on our Rights and Responsibilities page.
You should also remember that a lease or tenancy agreement is a legally binding document. If you plan to leave your housing earlier than the end of the lease, you should ensure that you are aware of the financial and other implications. Make sure you read ALL the fine print and know all the costs involved in each housing option, including hidden and/or unexpected costs. Never sign blank documents.
Tenants NSW provides factsheets for tenants which are a basic guide to the rights and responsibilities of tenants. We strongly recommend that you read these factsheets before you start your search for accommodation.
6. Search for accommodation on the University's off-campus accommodation database
The Off-Campus Accommodation Service maintains an Off-campus Accommodation Database. Here you will find a variety of accommodation available for students. If you find a property that interests you on this database, contact the person/s offering the accommodation by telephone and ask as many questions as you can about the property. This will save visiting properties that do not satisfy your needs. You can get information about important questions to ask accommodation providers on our website.
7. Contact local real estate agents
Real estate agents can provide you with details of vacant properties in the area. For more information about real estate agents, visit our Real Estate Agents page.
8. Check local newspapers
The Newcastle Herald is published daily with rental accommodation information available in the classified section each day. However, the majority of advertisements are placed in the Wednesday and Saturday issues.
9. Visit the Off-campus Accommodation Office
10. Find something you would like to view
When you find a property that you would like to view, you should:
- Arrange to meet the agent/landlord
- Check that you have the right address
- Be punctual for your meeting
- If for any reason you are unable to keep your appointment, phone the advertiser and tell him or her
11. Check the condition of the property
When you visit the property, you should look carefully at the condition it is in. Here are some things to look out for:
- Does the property smell fresh and clean, or musty and dirty?
- Are the walls clean and freshly painted or dirty with paint peeling off?
- Are the sink, stove, cupboard and exhaust fan in the kitchen clean?
- Are the blinds and curtains clean, and are they in good working condition?
- Is the bathroom clean, or is it dirty, and does it have a problem with mould?
- Is there an exhaust fan near the shower, and does it work?
- Is the toilet clean? Does it leak? Is the toilet cistern working properly? Are the toilet bowl and seat damaged or in good condition?
- Can you open all the windows? Are there any broken or poorly repaired windows?
- Is there at least one good fly-screen on the window of each main room?
- Do all the doors on the wardrobes and to the rooms look in good repair and are they working?
- Can you see any evidence of window or roof leaks or water damage from under the front and back door?
- Does the property have a security screen door on the front and back doors, and are they in good repair and working?
- Does the property have deadlocks on the external doors, and do they work properly?
- Do the rooms have individual locks?
- Does the property have smoke detectors and do they work?
When you are viewing properties, and you see something you are not sure about, ask the landlord or real estate agent to explain it to you. The Department of Fair Trade has more information on rental bonds and condition reports.
12. Be very sure you want the property
It is important that you ensure that you actually want the property before you leave any money or sign an "Application for Tenancy" form. If you change your mind after filling in the application form you may have to pay costs, even if you do not move in. To protect yourself, you should be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
13. How long does it take to find a property?
Give yourself plenty of time. We advise that you start looking at least four weeks before your studies commence to give yourself enough time to house-hunt and settle in. Note that competition for good, cheap rental accommodation can be tough, particularly at the beginning of each semester. Don't leave it to the last minute. You do not want to be stuck living somewhere that doesn't suit you because you have left it too late.
14. How many places should you look at?
Don't necessarily take the first option that comes along. Put some work into finding a good option. The more properties you see, the better educated you will be to assess whether a property meets your needs and is reasonably priced. It is a good idea to see several properties each week.
Don't be discouraged if you miss out on that dream property. It can be a competitive process, so be persistent. Don't rely on just one application being successful. If a property suits you - apply!