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When can I rent a flat or house?


Frequently asked questions

Here at Lawstuff we frequently receive Lawmails asking us for information about how old you have to be to rent a house or flat. We’ve included some of our most commonly asked questions below along with our answers. Details including names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

I’m 17 - when can I rent a house or flat?

Q. Hi my name is Max. I’m 16 and live in Belconnen. How old do I have to be to rent a house or flat for myself?

A. Hi Max. In the ACT, there is no law that says how old you must be to rent a flat or house. Generally, it is possible for you to sign a lease agreement before you are 18. The lease agreement will be binding if it is shown that the contract is to your benefit and you knew that it was legally binding when you agreed to it.

Having enough money

Renting can be expensive and it’s important to work out whether you will have enough money to pay the rent each week. You will need an amount of money upfront equal to four weeks rent for bond money   and rent in advance to give to the landlord when you move in. The amount of rent to be paid in advance will depend on your rental payment period however you can’t be asked for more than four weeks rent in advance.

When you apply to rent a house the landlord will want to make sure that you are a suitable tenant. They will ask you to provide identification, references and proof of income. If you are under 18 you may find that it is difficult to find a landlord that will rent to you.

It will help you to convince the landlord that you will be a good tenant if you can show:

  • proof of income – show that receive a regular income. The landlord will ask you to provide the details of your employer or of any Centrelink benefits that you may be entitled to.
  • references – provide the names of at least two references who say that you are a responsible person who will look after the property.  It would be helpful if your references came from older people who have a position of responsibility.
  • ID - they will ask you to provide identification like a driver’s license, passport or student ID.

If your application is successful you will be asked to sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement. A Residential Tenancy Agreement is a written legal agreement (contract) between the person who rents the house or flat (the tenant), and the person who owns it (the lessor or landlord). The landlord may be represented by a real estate agent.

It is important to read the Residential Tenancy Agreement carefully before you sign it and get legal advice if you do not understand the Agreement or you feel it is unfair.

Can I be refused a place because I’m under 18?

It is against the law for a Landlord to refuse to rent a house to you because of your age.  It can be difficult to prove this as there can be a number of reasons why the landlord doesn’t want to rent their property to you such as: 

  • not having a regular income;
  • not having a good rental history;
  • not being able to supply references who can vouch for you as a responsible tenant;
  • not having the money to pay for bond money and rent in advance.

If you believe that your rental application was rejected because of your age and you would like to do something about it you can:

complain directly to the landlord or real estate agent and ask for reasons for their decision
make a complaint to the ACT Human Rights Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission

Staying at home…

Max, there are also laws that say that your parents are responsible for you until you are 18 . This means that they must take care of you and ensure that you have a safe place to live. While it is technically not against the law for you to leave home before you turn 18 your parents can contact the police or the Care and Protection Services and ask for their help to have you return home. Whether or not you have to return home is subject to a lot of factors however you won’t be made to go back home if it is not safe for you there.

For more information on repairs and damage to a rental property, check out these videos:

1. What happens if I damage my rental property?


2. What happens if my landlord won't fix a repair?

I'm a co-tenant - how do I get my bond back?

Check out this video for more information:


When can I do if my co-tenant stops paying rent?

Check out this video for more information:


Can I sublet my room?

Check out this video for more information:

For more information

For more information, visit the Tenants' Union ACT Inc. website by clicking here.

This page was last updated 10 March 2015.

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