First-time Renters – What You Need to Know – Lauren Staley

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Whether you’re fresh out of your family home or opting for the flexibility that renting offers, bear the following hot tips in mind when you’re renting for the first time:

Finding the one

In a competitive rental market, it can be tempting to apply for all and hope for one: while the world wide web makes for a quicker, streamlined application process, for the sake of developing good rapport with agencies (not to mention saving yourself a whole lot of paperwork), ensure you only apply for the properties that genuinely meet your needs.

Make it clear

If you’re never rented before, join the club! We all start somewhere – the main thing is to maintain open, honest relationship with your property manager from the get-go.

Submit a covering letter detailing a little about your story, what you are looking for and why you think the property in question would be suitable for you. A character reference goes a long way, too: ideally an academic or professional contact who can vouch for your suitability, as opposed to a personal reference.

The Right Stuff

Nothing says ‘pick me!’ like a bright smile, a firm handshake and a freshly ironed shirt. Wherever possible, arrange to meet your prospective property manager or leasing consultant in person. Not only will you have the opportunity to ask important questions and scope out your options, you can paint a clear, positive picture of who you are.

Provide Assurance

Property Managers seek tenants who are able to meet all obligations detailed in the lease agreement.

For this reason, many agencies conduct credit checks on rental applications, in order to establish your financial suitability to the property in question and the leasing obligations put forward. If you have any concerns about your credit history, are new to the workforce or are considered underemployed, it’s important to facilitate an understanding of your circumstances by detailing your circumstances in your cover letter. You might even consider offering your parents or a financially stable significant other as guarantor (with their permission, of course!)

Even if your application doesn’t request this information, it’s also wise to provide a copy of your bank statement savings account and provide 100 points of ID to establish your record of responsibility.

The Full Picture

While it might sound obvious, in the paperwork-heavy world of real estate the simplest of things that can trip us up – and send our applications to the bottom of the processing pile.

Be sure to cross the t’s and cross the i’s in your application: Don’t leave any blanks (unless of course the section in question isn’t relevant to your situation), and if there’s more than one of you applying together, ensure you all submit your applications and supporting documents at the same time.

Check it Out

Open inspections are the best time to determine whether a property is right for you, which is why it’s often required that you attend one prior to signing a lease.

If you require x amount of space to house your grand piano or a patch big enough to plant your pumpkins, now’s the time to measure up – failing to identify what features of a property best meets your needs and ask any deal-breaking/making questions about the house you’d like to call home and will only cause headaches.

Great Expectations

So, you’ve been approved for a rental property that ticks all the boxes? Congratulations! As with any investment or business dealing, it’s important you are aware of the ins and outs of your legally binding agreement.

While it may not make for the most thrilling read, it’s crucially important (and legally required of you) to read through the renting rights and duties booklet supplied by agent when you sign the lease. The booklet contains helpful tips and guidelines about tenant/landlord obligations for throughout the course of the tenancy, including how to report/request maintenance.

Speaking of, make sure you have a clear understanding of urgent and non-urgent repairs and have reasonable expectations for the times frames in which these repairs should/can be addressed.

It’s important to keep records of your dealings with your agent to ensure communication is kept clear and consistent with your lease obligations. The simplest way to go about this for all parties concerned is of course via email. It’s important to allow property managers a reasonable period in which to get back to you, after all, with their busy, on-the-road roles, inboxes aren’t always within reach.

Ultimately, navigating the rental market is all about putting your best foot forward – and into a property that meets your needs. With clear and realistic expectations, open communication and attention to detail, you’re already on your way to making your perfect rental house a home.

Yours sincerely,

Lauren Staley

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