Renting private houses and units, let’s holidaymakers enjoy the comforts of home while staying at their favourite holiday destination. But short-term renters in NSW don't have the same rights or responsibilities as regular, long term tenants, so it’s a good idea to find out what your rights are before renting a holiday house or unit.
Online booking services
Online booking services such as Airbnb, Stayz and Wotif allow homeowners to advertise and rent out their homes, or rooms in their homes, for holiday accommodation. If you book a holiday home, you’re entering into a private contract with the homeowner but be aware that the online booking service may not see the contract, and are not obliged to help either you or the homeowner if there is a dispute.
Some tips for renters using an online booking service are:
- Check the agreement’s terms and conditions, especially the refund and cancellation policies. Ask about anything that you are unsure of when you make a booking. A short conversation may prevent unpleasant ‘surprises’ later on.
- Check if you have to pay a form of 'bond' for damages and how it will be released when you check-out.
- Clarify what you are renting and be aware that you could be in someone’s home (or bedroom). If you have booked a room, you may want to confirm that the landlord has the permission of rest of the household.
- Understand what the booking includes. Landlords may have policies about whether they supply linen, internet, cleaning or certain household items (like cutlery or toilet paper).
- Ask about any special conditions or 'house-rules' that the landlord has (eg. noise, pets and shower times). These may be based on Council restrictions.
- Consider how amenities may differ in shared accommodation. Compared with staying in a hotel, it may have a different standard of amenities and level of privacy.
Who should I rent from?
It’s entirely up to you to decide where and how you want to travel. If you use an agent or broker, then they must be licensed with NSW Fair Trading as a real estate agent. Dealing with an unlicensed agent or broker exposes you to unnecessary risks. Do a licence check or call 13 32 20.
It doesn’t matter if you’re renting directly from the property owner or through a licensed agent, you should sign a written agreement that clearly sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
What services are provided?
Before signing a written agreement, talk to the owner or agent about anything you are unsure of. For example:
- does the owner have the right to enter the property while you are living there? If so, in what circumstances?
- is the accommodation rated according to an accommodation classifications system (a star rating) and how does it work?
- is the accommodation serviced and if so, how often?
- is there anything in the property which you cannot use (eg. garage, cupboards) or are any of the facilities (eg. bathrooms) shared?
- is the accommodation fully furnished, including cutlery, bedding and towels?
- how close are the premises to points of interest and transport?
- how will disputes be settled? Does any formal dispute resolution system exist?
- who do you call in the event of an emergency?
Before making a booking
If you make a telephone booking for accommodation you’ve never visited before, it's important to keep the following points in mind.
- When speaking to a person, ask for their name and who they represent.
- Take notes of all important points of your conversation, including dates, times and names.
- Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions. If you don't understand something, don't be afraid to ask questions.
- Ensure you receive written confirmation of everything you request. That way you can be certain you will get what you are paying for.
- Read all correspondence carefully.
- Check that the business you are dealing with is licensed. Contact NSW Fair Trading for this information on 13 32 20 or do a licence check online on our website.
- Where possible, it is a good idea to deal with people you know or who have been recommended to you.
- Don't be hesitant about reporting fraud or other misconduct to the appropriate authorities. Ask questions. It’s your money.
A real estate agent is required to give you a trust account receipt for any money you have paid. If a dispute arises, you will need this receipt as proof of payment.. Receipt details should include the date of payment, amount paid, period covered by the payment, what the payment was for, the owner’s or agent's name, contact details and a licence number if the receipt was issued by an agent.
Together with the owner or agent, you should do an inspection of the property before moving in. During the inspection, make note of any existing damage, what is contained in the property and any missing or faulty appliances.
Your comments should be in writing and you, and the owner or agent, keep a copy of the report. This will help you avoid disputes when you move out. Remember, you’re responsible for damage to the property or its equipment, fixtures or fittings if it was caused through your negligence. You’re not responsible for any damage that is regarded as 'fair wear and tear'.
You’ll probably be asked to provide a security deposit. It's important to get a receipt for the security deposit, as well as written information on where it will be held, who it will be paid to, how to claim it back and the responsibilities of you and the owner or agent. Security deposits for short term holiday accommodation not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 do not have to be paid to NSW Fair Trading.
If you have a dispute with an accommodation provider, try to contact the owner or manager first. If you cannot settle the problem, contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20, or lodge your enquiry or complaint on our website.