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When can I rent a flat or house?

I’m 17 and going to university. Can I rent a house or flat?

Q. Hi my name is Maxie. I live in Launceston and I’m 17. I’ve just finished school and am going to university in Hobart next year. I’ll be living away from home and have some questions about that. Am I old enough to rent a house? Will Centrelink help me with money for my rent? And do I have to pay a bond and if I do how do I get it back?

A. Hi Maxie. In Tasmania, there is no law that says how old you have to be to rent a flat or house. Generally, you can sign a contract like a lease agreement before you’re 18.  The lease agreement will be binding on you (that means you can’t get out of what it says) if the contract is for your benefit and you knew that it was legally binding when you agreed to it.

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 ID, references and proof of income. If you are under 18 you may find that it’s hard to find a landlord that will rent to you because they’re not sure that you will be able to pay the rent. Landlords may also be worried that they won’t be able to make you pay for any damage to the property because you don’t have enough money.    However, there are some ways to increase your chances of getting approved to rent a place.  Some of these include making sure you do the following things in your application

  • provide ID – they will want to get a photocopy of your driver’s licence or passport.
  • provide proof of income – to show that you receive a regular income payslips from your job or a statement of how much Centrelink money you get for rent assistance or youth allowance.
  • provide references – usually a landlord will want at least two references to say that you are a responsible person who will look after the property and not damage it – these could be names of people you have worked for in the past, or someone who has an important job. It would be helpful if your references came from older people who have a position of responsibility.

Paying a bond

The landlord will also ask you for a bond (security deposit)  or rent in advance.  A bond is usually four weeks rent which you pay before moving into a rental property – it covers any damage that you may make to the property.  You get your bond back when you move out, provided you haven’t damaged the property.   You can get it back by lodging a form with the Bond Authority. 

Generally, the bond money can be equal to 1 month’s rent.  The landlord can also ask for 2 weeks’ rent in advance if you are paying rent fortnightly or one week in advance if you are paying weekly.

Being a cotenant with other people

If you are going to university, your budget may be tight and you may find it is more affordable to share a house with other students. Depending on the tenant arrangements for the particular house, you may be able to move in as:

  • a subtenant - which means that you will be responsible for the weekly rent, bills and your own expenses; or
  • a cotenant - which means that your name will be on the lease and you will responsible along with the other co tenants to ensure that the rent is paid and any damage to the property by the tenants or guests is repaired. As a cotenant you will also be asked to contribute toward your share of the bond.

Getting Centrelink and Youth Allowance

Maxie, you may be able to get a Centrelink payment such as Youth Allowance to help you manage financially while you’re studying. Youth Allowance is a payment for young people who are studying, training or looking for work. Whether you are considered eligible will depend on whether you meet the Youth Allowance ‘independence test’.

Someone under 22 will be assessed as ‘independent’ if they have been working full-time (at least 30 hours per week) for eighteen months, or if they have to leave home because of family breakdown, violence, or serious risk to themselves. You can read more about whether you can get Youth Allowance here:

If you have a question that we haven’t answered above, please send us a Lawmail

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:

Further information about renting you can find here:


This content was last updated on March 2015.

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