Rights and responsibilities
Consumer Affairs Victoria (new window) and the Surf Coast Shire Council (new window) have been working together to develop a Code of Practice for accommodation providers and schoolies in the surf coast area, find out more at www.goodtimesgreatbreaks.org.au/ (new window).
Before you sign a contract
When you make a booking, ask for a copy of the accommodation contract and terms and conditions directly from the accommodation provider. Ask about fees and charges, particularly cancellation fees. Don't just rely on what the booking agent says.
Check the contract before you sign. Know ahead of time what's expected of you and your friends e.g. what's acceptable behaviour, how you can be evicted, and how you can resolve potential disputes.
Warranties and Guarantees
When you book accommodation, you have statutory rights under national consumer guarantees in the Australian Consumer Law (effective from 1 January, 2011). These rights automatically apply to buying goods and services, including booking accommodation.
Accommodation booked before 1 January 2011 is covered by existing statutory implied conditions and warranties for services, contained in the Fair Trading Act 1999.
Under the consumer guarantees, a provider must offer accommodation:
- With due care and skill
- That is fit for any particular purpose
- That is provided within a reasonable time (when no time is set)
If you book accommodation that does not meet these guarantees, you are entitled to a remedy – but your entitlement depends on how severe the service failure is.
Remedies can include terminating the contract, a refund or, in the case of a major failure, compensation. If the failure is minor, you can require the accommodation provider to address the problem within a reasonable period of time.
Major failure of accommodation services occurs when:
- The problem would cause a reasonable consumer not to make a booking if they had known about it
- The problem cannot be easily remedied within a reasonable period of time to make it fit for its particular purpose
- The accommodation is not fit for your desired purpose and cannot easily be remedied within a reasonable period of time
- The accommodation is unsafe
Contact Consumer Affairs Victoria (new window) for more information on your consumer rights with booking accommodation.
Most types of accommodation have a set of house rules that state what's expected of guests. It's your responsibility to know the house rules and follow them.
Most rules are fair enough and reflect what would be reasonably expected of any guest. The rules should also explain what happens if a guest breaks the rules and what steps are in place to handle complaints or resolve disputes.
Sometimes you may encounter rules that are unfair, unreasonable or aimed specifically at schoolies or young people. Unfair rules could include things like:
- Extra charges for visitors who are in flats/apartments/rooms outside the 'no visitors' period
- Restrictions that only apply during schoolies week
- Restrictions that don't allow visitors into shared pool or garden areas
- Making tenants liable for any damage even if it was caused by someone not staying at your property
- Allowing for evictions without any warnings
- Allowing for eviction of all tenants, even if only one person has breached the rules
- Making tenants liable for damage even if the damage was a result of wear and tear
- Allowing for random inspections without the consent of tenants
If you encounter any unfair rules, politely question their validity with your agent or the accommodation owner. If rules seem extremely unfair, consider looking for accommodation elsewhere.
A real estate agent or property owner can only ask for a bond if every other prospective tenant is also asked for one. Be aware that a bond is not usually necessary for short holidays.
If you have to pay a bond, get a receipt and find out when it will be returned to you and how disputes will be resolved. Also, ask for a condition report specifying the condition of the property before you occupy it.
Check the condition of the property when you arrive and take note of cracks in walls, broken doors/windows and faulty appliances. If you have a digital camera, take photographs. This will help you settle a dispute with the landlord or accommodation provider if one should arise.
House fires happen every day.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm
- Check that it is working by pushing the button
- Replace the battery if necessary
- Identify two ways out of every room
- Never deadlock yourself inside the house
If you're having a party or even if you're just hanging out in your accommodation with friends, it's important to know the local laws for when you have to turn the music down. Check out the local info in our Getting Organised section for a list of noise restrictions (and other local info) in the main Victorian schoolies hotspots.
If you're camping it's your responsibility to make sure you have a permit (where necessary) and that you adhere to the campsite rules. Respect your fellow campers and keep the noise levels down.
You must also be aware of campfire regulations and Total Fire Ban days.
Respect and help protect your environment by cleaning up after yourselves. Be aware also that most of the coastal areas enforce a no-glass policy.
Find out more on our Camping page.