1. Collective responsibilityYou guys need to realise that your responsibility is shared amongst all of the housemates living together. You should ask for individual contracts for each tenant from your new landlord just in case one of your housemates leaves. This means that you won't be liable for their rent or other costs.
2. Check the vitalsMake sure that every little thing is correct on your contracts before you sign them. This includes all tenants' names, the landlord's name, the address of the house or flat and the dates of the tenancy. This should also include the tenancy notice period (i.e if the landlord wants you to move out, how much notice they need to give you).
3. All the infoYour landlord should provide you with a Property Condition Report when you move int, this document will list the condition of your property including any added furnishings or furniture included. You should check for any discrepancies between your own observation and the report and note down any that you see, from a cracked tile to a mark on the wall. Any that aren't reported could affect whether you receive your bond in full when you eventually move out.
4. Safety firstDon't forget to also ask for a copy of the gas safety certificate and check all the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms work once you're inside the property and if there's any dodgy floorboards or anything that could become a trip hazard or any other danger, get it fixed by your landlord straight away. Also check that all locks on windows and doors are 100% secure.
5. Admin chargesTry and negotiate any admin charges that seem ridiculous but there will probably be more than you expect. Make sure you're ready for these by saving a little money, (only a few dollars should do it!) each week just in case they're sprung on you.
6. NegotiationSometimes you'll get lucky and get a nice landlord that will let you negotiate freebies or half-rent over the summer, it's worth a try and if you need anything in particular, such as an extra refrigerator or microwave, it's a good idea to ask. Also, if you're moving into your third year and want to stay in the same house they might give you discount or let you off a second deposit if you've been a good tenant.
7. Cleanliness is everythingAsk for a deep clean before you move in, some landlords might think it's OK to just run the Hoover round but you're going to want to move into a spotless house. It might not stay that way for long but if it's nice when you move in, it's more motivation to keep it this way!
8. InspectionWhen you end your lease on a property it is common for your landlord to inspect your property against the initial property condition report. If possible, make yourself present for the occasion as it is common for landlords to look for damages that aren't there in the first place. This inspection will determine whether or not you will receive your bond without dispute. However if it does result in a dispute you can apply for the dispute to be resolved by a tenancy Tribunal in the state you live in.
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