Becoming a Tenant
Tenants should add up the costs involved in renting a house or flat. Generally they should aim to ensure that they are able to afford the rent regularly.
When searching for accommodation, tenants can search online, look in the newspaper (The Saturday Mercury is generally considered rental property day, but there are many advertisements every day including on the website www.gumtree.com.au), or visit real estate agents in the area and see what houses and flats they have listed for rent. Ask the agent about all the expenses involved in renting the available accommodation. A guide listing real estate agents is in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory, and real estate agents also have a huge online presence with their own websites or on sites such as: realestate.com.au.
A prospective tenant should be on the doorstep of the premises being let or the real estate agent’s office as early as possible. The etiquette around calling advertisers from the newspaper is unclear, but generally it is ‘first in, first served’, and calling earlier has a distinct advantage on waiting to call later. A tenant should ignore advertisements in newspapers placed from time to time by letting agencies, as distinct from real estate agents, as tenants will have to pay them an amount before the agency will refer them to property owners or real estate agents. They merely give access to their listings. However, advertisements for these agencies are rare in Tasmania.
Housing Tasmania (a division of the Department of Health and Human Services) may provide temporary housing in extreme emergencies. However, very strict guidelines are applied and it depends on the availability of houses. Low income families may apply for permanent public housing through this department, as may pensioners.
Families and individuals who are unable to raise the money needed to meet initial rental expenses may obtain some financial assistance (such as bond money) from community organisations such as Anglicare and Colony 47.
Rent assistance may also be payable by Centrelink for individuals and families in receipt of pensions or allowances. For further information see the Centrelink site on rent assistance. Rent subsidies may be paid by the Department of Health and Human Services. Other community organisations such as Shelter Tasmania also provide support for particular groups of tenants in search of accommodation, and help sort out other tenancy problems that may arise.