If the numbers (and facial expressions) at open inspections are anything to go by, nabbing a nifty rental property to call home is proving more of a challenge than ever before. First-time renters, students and lower income earners are now competing against experienced tenants and full-time professionals, amongst the swathe of everyday Australians ultimately pushed out of the buyer’s market.
When applying for a rental property it’s important to bear in mind a landlord’s motivations for selecting the right tenant. In theory, the better suited a tenant is to the property in question, the more likely it is they’ll a) stick to a lease agreement for the full term b) be motivated to care for the property as if it were their own and c) sign on to an extended/renewed lease (and any increases in rent). So, if you find yourself amongst the many Australians huddling in front of a For Lease sign this weekend, here are a few tips to get your foot out of the cold and well and truly in the door:
Do your homework:
Research the market, and ensure your expectations align with your budget and availability: divide your rental property shortlist into ‘essentials’ and ‘non-essentials’ and stick to it –don’t let a fixture fixation compromise your quest for a property that would otherwise meet your needs.
Be in touch:
Introduce yourself to your property manager: we’d love to meet you in person and get to know a little about who you are, and what you’re looking for.
When it comes to scheduling/attending an inspection, consider taking a little time off from the 9 to 5 to meet with your property manager and check out the property before it opens up to the weekend market. While weekends are wonderful – time for coffee with friends, strolls in the park and a few leisurely open inspections – everyone else will have the same idea!
Present yourself well at an inspection: have your questions ready to go, along with a handshake and a smile. Once you’ve submitted your application, keep communication lines open, honest and just frequent enough to set you in good stead for future opportunities should ‘the one’ not land at your feet. After all, websites can’t always be updated instantly when a property is added to, or removed from, the market.
Cross the t’s and dot the i’s:
In the paperwork-heavy world of real estate, it comes as no surprise that full and complete applications go straight to the top of the processing pile. It’s important to cross-check to ensure your application is a complete and thorough representation of you as an organised, reliable and financially capable tenant:
- Tell your story. A brief cover letter will provide context for your application and fill in any gaps. Tailor it to the property you’re applying for and include examples of how you’ve cared for similar properties before. So there’s a big grassy yard out back and a garden bed in the front? Excellent, it so happens you’ve always kept a lovely garden and have the tools to ensure the property is always looking its best.
- Ensure necessary identification is provided with application: One hundred points of ID is the standard requirement. Photocopies or scans supplied need to be clear and legible, and that drivers licence photograph needs to show clearly, too.
- References: provide professional/academic references over personal references where possible. Your landlord-to-be needs assurance that another’s assessment of you is unbiased. Keep things professional and traceable by providing business contact details, as opposed to personal mobiles, for your referees. As agencies follow similar procedures and share similar terms/obligations in lease agreements, it makes sense to present agency details over private landlord details when referring to current/previous tenancies. Your landlord can be further assured that you’re familiar with standard requirements within your lease agreement.
- Provide assurance. It should come as no surprise that landlords are looking for a tenant who can confidently budget for rental payments and meet all financial obligations for the duration of the tenancy. For this reason, your application form will most likely request copies of recent payslips. First-time or lower-income renters might consider going a step further in this department by offering their parents/legal guardians as guarantors on the lease agreement.
In a particularly competitive market, it’s advisable to have your application and supplementary documentation filled out, cross-checked, printed and ready to submit to the agent manning the inspection on the day.
Whether you’re a first-time renter or a trusty tenant from way back, it pays to understand the motivations behind and the process for selecting the right tenant for a rental property. Assuring your prospective landlord that you’re the right fit for the property and the obligations that come with it comes down to presenting yourself as the organised, reliable and financially capable tenant you are; in person, and on paper.
Wishing you every success in finding your perfect rental property – enjoy the view from the top of the pile!