Frequently asked questions

Students

I'm new to the area and I've never lived away from home before. What type of accommodation do you recommend for me?

When choosing accommodation there are a few things you should think about, including how many people you want to live with, how long you need the accommodation for and whether or want to live on-campus or off.

The University of Newcastle offers on-campus accommodation for just under 1800 residents. You can choose from 8 different residences that have a variety of room configurations, catering options and living environments. You can also live off-campus either with other students or independently depending on what you're looking for. 

You can also look for short term/temporary accommodation here.

Does the Off-Campus Accommodation Officer check the property, the landlord and any people living at the property?

Unfortunately not. The Off-Campus Accommodation Database is an information service only and whilst every effort is made to assist students to find suitable accommodation, any lease or other housing arrangement entered into are at the discretion of the student and the accommodation provider. It is vital that you inspect any property you are considering renting before you move in or sign any agreements.

How much should I pay for rent?

The amount you can afford will depend on the amount of income you have. Some students receive Austudy/Youth Allowance/ scholarships and some may also get assistance from their families and friends or have savings in the bank to fall back on. Others may derive income from part-time jobs. 

A general budgeting rule of thumb is that you spend no more than 30-50% of your income on rent as you may find it too difficult to cover other living expenses. However, this is a guide only.

If I have problems with the landlord, real estate agent or other members of the household what can I do?

To minimise the risk of things going wrong, you should try to do as much research as possible about your rights and responsibilities before you sign lease agreements and related documents. Students should familiarise themselves with information available from NSW Office of Fair Trading.

However, if you are having issues regarding tenancies or accommodation, we will happily refer you the appropriate organisations listed below:

These organisations can help you with information about starting or ending a tenancy and your rights and obligations as a tenant. They can also assist tenants in matters relating to tenancies in NSW where there is an issue with the landlord about rents, bonds and tenants rights.

What is the usual length of stay in a place?

You should always be clear on whether the people in the house or flat are the owners or are renting as this can sometimes have an affect on the length of the lease or stay. You should also be aware that if you intend on renting a vacant house or flat, the usual practice is to require you to sign a six or twelve month lease although you should negotiate a length that suits you. 

A lease is a legally binding document and the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act will apply. As breaking a lease can be very costly, we recommend that you decide before signing a lease whether or not you are confident of staying in the property for the duration of the lease.

Will I be able to connect to the internet?

Some properties may have internet ports for connecting to the internet and some may not have any access to the internet so it is important to ask the provider. There are many alternatives available to both PC and Laptop users for broadband connections, including:

  • Wireless USB
  • Wireless PC Card/Laptop Card

Why are database listings still displayed when the accommodation providers tell me the vacancy has been rented?

Providers sometimes forget to let us know their vacancy is gone or the property has only recently rented and they haven't had a chance to tell us. If students come across one of these listings, please let the us know so that way we can contact the provider and remove the listing. 

How much notice do I have to give to move out? And how much notice does the landlord/owner have to give me to move out?

This issue should be made clear before you move in and can depend on the tenancy agreement. In an owner-occupied situation both parties should discuss their expectations before the student moves in and put any agreement in writing. Two weeks is often agreed upon as the length of notice to vacate required by both parties.

Please refer to this fact sheet for more information.

Is it okay for people to advertise for 'female only', 'international student only' etc.?

In a vacant flat/house, student hostel, and hotels, the law prohibits people from rejecting your application on the grounds of your cultural background, gender or religion. In a share home situation the discrimination laws do not apply and the owner can specify female only, male only, international students only etc.

Can I have visitors/friends over?

Before you move in, some clear guidelines should be established about visitors with any roommates/housemates. For example: 

  • Is it okay to have friends over regularly for social or study groups? 
  • Can you have your boyfriend/girlfriend over? 
  • Can he/she stay the night? 
  • If so, how many times per week is reasonable?

You may be asked to contribute extra money for the cost of food and bills if you have friends stay overnight or for a length of time at your invitation.

Can I have pets?

You may have difficulty finding accommodation if you have pets as most landlords of vacant flats and houses prohibit keeping pets. It is entirely up to the landlord to allow or not allow pets, so it's best to check to see what their policy is.


Can I smoke?

Some landlords do not allow smoking at their properties. Often the people in a household will allow smoking but only if you go outside but other people prefer non-smokers as flat mates.

What are the food/cooking arrangements when I live off-campus?

Every student and household will have different procedures and types of food that are prepared. Newcastle is a cosmopolitan city and has food outlets that sell cooking ingredients originating from overseas countries. The Central Coast Region has similar outlets to cater for an expanding population. There is a wide range of cooking styles and this can cause conflict. Some cultures cook using lots of strong smelling herbs and spices and create a lot of steam. You should discuss any special dietary requirements and cooking arrangements with the owners or your fellow tenants before you move in.

How do I pay for telephone calls?

Many students now use their own mobile telephone (prepaid or contract), so there is less need of the landline telephone arrangements at many rental properties.

However, it is normal to pay for every telephone call you make and you should make arrangements to record your telephone calls to be paid for when the bill arrives. The major telephone companies have a range of services to help manage the telephone charges in a house with independent tenants.

If you are from a country or overseas location, you should respect the landlord or owner’s wishes and negotiate arrangements about the length of time you may spend on the telephone. Some landlords and owners prefer no interstate or international telephone calls to be made from their telephone and may have a lock or bar on long distance calls being made.