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Tips for getting into a rental property in Canberra

By Property Manager - 9 February 2011 19

shoes

Traditionally this is the toughest time of year for people searching for a rental property, with the influx of DFAT, Defence and other posted people, as well as a large contingent of students putting a lot of pressure on the market.

In a market where the rental prices are already uncomfortably high, this added pressure just makes it harder for the core of the market to secure affordable rental accommodation.  Here’s a few tips to help improve your chances:

Complete the application form properly – I know what a pain in the ass it is: each agent has their own form and you just keep repeating the same info. Problem is, if you don’t fill it in properly your application will probably (read: definitely) be put at the bottom of the pile. With multiple applications for each property the agent isn’t going to waste time chasing you for information that you were already asked for.

Provide supporting documents, but keep it simple – the more information you can provide to make the job easier for the owner/agent, the better. You can go too far though, and an application that will take 45 minutes to read will be put at the bottom of the pile. Make it easier, not harder. I’d suggest adding:

  • ID – Licence + other photo ID + Medicare Card. NO CREDIT CARDS. Make sure something shows your current address and DOB. And condense it all to one page. A separate page for each item is just cumbersome and a waste of trees.
  • One SHORT introductory letter for the whole application, NOT one per applicant.
  • Any written rental references.
  • 2x payslips, annual payment summary or letter of offer/reference confirming income – the agent/owner can’t legally ask for this, but if you offer it you’ve made it easier for them to process your application.

References – If you don’t have a rental history it can be tough. Generally what the owner wants to know is “Are they going to pay the rent” and “Are they going to look after the property”. If you can’t substantiate that with a rental reference do whatever you can to do ease their mind some other way. If you have to rely on personal references make sure they’re from someone credible. Your friends, family etc are only ever going to say good things and anyone reading it knows that.

Guarantor – Again, without a rental history it can be tough, but if you have a parent or someone willing to co-sign the lease with you it’ll be a massive help. Having a letter of guarantee from them is of little value – they need to co-apply, so get them to complete the application form and make sure they can come in to sign the lease with you (if you get the place).

Talk to the landlord/agent – imagine there are 20 people at an exhibition and two of them politely introduce themselves and have a brief chat. When the owner asks the agent for feedback on the applicants the agent can give more information on someone they have spoken to than anyone else who just walked through silently. Every little bit helps.

Show respect for the property – simple things like insisting on taking off your shoes even if they don’t ask you to. It is such a simple gesture but it says a lot!

At the end of the day this is only going to help so much. With multiple applicants for any given property only one can be successful. All you can do it make it as easy as possible for the owner/agent to select you ahead of someone else.

Happy house hunting.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Tips for getting into a rental property in Canberra
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georgesgenitals 3:37 pm 10 Feb 11

There’s really only one answer to this problem: more supply. Unfornately, even if the govt acted now (which it won’t), and there were plenty of tradies (which there aren’t), it would still take several years to get enough stock into the market to alleviate the problem.

Interestingly, I have read that the rental market typically lags the property purchase market by a couple of years, so after another 6-12 months we may get a respite from rising rents.

justsomeaussie 3:17 pm 10 Feb 11

People are forgetting a few of things.

1. There is a huge demand for rental accommodation in Canberra.
2. The majority of the people applying for rentals are suitable tenants (good salary, stable job).

The above two points have made property mangers lazy. Why look for the absolute best tenant when you have 20 tenants who are perfectly suitable too.

We have an oversupply of quality prospective renters in a market that has vacancy rates of 0.5%. We have low-medium density housing where we least need it (close to CBDs) and lastly, those who make the rules certainly do not rent, and do OWN rentals and are making are killing out of the Canberra market.

LadyxBec 1:20 pm 10 Feb 11

fragge said :

Been applying for rentals since December, lease ended in January, been couching it up for nearly two months waiting for any kind of communication (LJ Hooker Dickson has possibly the worst agents I’ve ever dealt with: rude, unresponsive, no courtesy, unhelpful), it’s practically impossible for two single young males (despite being on very high incomes) to secure a rental over the influx of public servants and young families flooding the market. Sigh.

It’s not just guys, my housemate and I, and another friend new to Canberra (all girls) are on our 4th week of looking. Despite over 20 applications, a perfect rental history, and high incomes we are about to be homeless. Or evicted, which would destroy our refrences and lead to an even worse situation! As for agents, I find the vast majority of them rude and unhelpful, is it really that hard to send an email or make a phone call getting back to people? Even when we call to ask what’s going on, they are never in the office, and never return the call. It is frustrating beyond words!

fragge 12:00 pm 10 Feb 11

Been applying for rentals since December, lease ended in January, been couching it up for nearly two months waiting for any kind of communication (LJ Hooker Dickson has possibly the worst agents I’ve ever dealt with: rude, unresponsive, no courtesy, unhelpful), it’s practically impossible for two single young males (despite being on very high incomes) to secure a rental over the influx of public servants and young families flooding the market. Sigh.

johnboy 11:41 am 10 Feb 11

Assuming three inspections a day, an inspection every six months, an average rent of $400, I reckon a well organised property manager taking 10% would be making around $14,400 a week.

Grrrr 11:34 am 10 Feb 11

el said :

Property Manager said :

And refer to my point on REFERENCES.

Yes, because someone who has owned and lived in their own property for over a dozen years is going to be flush with glowing rental references, aren’t they?

If you actually read his point about references, you’d see he talks about personal references where no rental reference is available.

As someone who is still cleaning up his house after previous tenants, I wonder whether a property manager would have helped. If so, would they have helped enough to justify the 8, 10 or even 11 percent they ask for now? Given that rents have gone up quite a lot in recent years, it seems that the recent rise from 5% fees means their earnings are increasing exponentially.

Out of curiosity, how many properties does the average full-time property manager manage?

el 11:05 pm 09 Feb 11

Property Manager said :

Inappropriate said :

Any tips for someone who is entering the rental market after being a homeowner for 12+ years (due to a marriage breakdown)?

When you’re having that brief chat with the agent at the exhibition, give them the quick run down on your situation. We’re all human, and you aren’t the first person to have to find somewhere to live after a relationship breakdown. And refer to my point on REFERENCES.

Yes, because someone who has owned and lived in their own property for over a dozen years is going to be flush with glowing rental references, aren’t they?

clueless70 8:02 pm 09 Feb 11

re all the points above:

No, thanks.

I don’t recognise property managers as sources of advice. The job must rank as among the lowest, most desperate and unthinking in the white-collar world – I struggle to name one more purely and expressly exploitative. The quoted remark of the property manager whose colleagues would merely go through the first ten applications (bin the rest) find the first suitable person and bing they get it is amusing in its frankness.

Whether or not selection of tenants is actually made on the ‘bing’ principle, I’m not interested in learning how to be inspected, vetted, subjected to rental auctions or in other ways used as a means to someone else’s (usually a bank’s) financial gain. Why not teach the frog in its pot of slowly heating water to breaststroke?

Not only do I have no interest in the advice per se, I reject its assumptions. The ‘tough times’ mentioned in the post are completely confected. It’s greed and price gouging that make such ‘tough times’.

Given that the ultimate beneficiaries of $500,000 mortgages are also banks, I’ll continue to rent, but only through private arrangements found on free advertising forums. The relationship between landlord and tenant may always be exploitative, but it’s more human when your landlord isn’t hiding behind a property manager. It’s also, by and large, cheaper and longer-lasting. A friend of mine has this method down to a fine art. For the last 15 years he has rented a small flat in inner western Sydney for $130 per week. I doubt he resents the few extra obligations that go with renting at this price point, such as mowing the lawn now and then, or switching off a smoke alarm which his ageing landlady has set off with her smoky cooking, but is too short to reach herself.

Joe Canberran 5:33 pm 09 Feb 11

kezzafezza said :

When we moved to Canberra 1 year ago we applied for 7 houses, and got approved for them all. So it was nice to have a choice. We had all the paperwork filled out before we went to open homes, and also has copies of all relevant paperwork like payslips. All the agents were quite pleased when we handed them everything completed, while everyone else was standing around filling out forms.
We introduced ourselves to the agents, and had a friendly chat before we looked around. We dressed nicely.
We must have done something right as we have 2 cats and a dog which we did mention and still got approved for every property we applied for

In all the times I’ve rented, not that many only 4 in the last 10 years including 2 as a part of a share house, once as a single male after a marriage breakdown and once as part of a family, I’ve always got the first place I’ve applied for. And I suspect it was for the reasons PM, kezzafezza and others stated. In this day and age I also call and enquire about the property before the inspection and follow up with an email (or vis versa) stating how much I was looking forward to inspecting the property and having the opertunity to apply. There is a fine line between being seen as keen and coming across as a pushy nutjob but if you can sail on the right side of that line you will be remembered and have a much higher chance of getting the property you want. And I too have always had pets and still got the properties I’ve applied for even when some have stated ‘no pets’ and had flatmates in ‘no share house’ properties.

AussieRodney 5:29 pm 09 Feb 11

RE: Entering the marker after being a homeowner yourself, +1 for the advice. The fact that you have owned your OWN house previously SHOULD work in your favour, but you may have to make the effort to make it so.

enrique 4:03 pm 09 Feb 11

MatthewOfCanberra said :

Single guys will be at a disadvantage. If scruples don’t worry you, and if there’s a lass who’s willing to put her name on the rental agreement, you’ll have a better chance.

I disagree – single guys have been the best tenants in my experience. They are always extremely tidy, they don’t cook that much (hence low wear and tear on the kitchen) and they are usually very grateful to be the successful applicant (hence don’t cause much trouble).

Property Manager 3:43 pm 09 Feb 11

Inappropriate said :

Any tips for someone who is entering the rental market after being a homeowner for 12+ years (due to a marriage breakdown)?

When you’re having that brief chat with the agent at the exhibition, give them the quick run down on your situation. We’re all human, and you aren’t the first person to have to find somewhere to live after a relationship breakdown. And refer to my point on REFERENCES.

justsomeaussie 3:18 pm 09 Feb 11

The advice I received from a property manager friend which worked for me twice is to fill your application in and have all the required documentation BEFORE you see the property. If you like it, introduce yourself to the property manager and hand over all your forms on the spot.

She said that all her colleagues would merely go through the first ten applications (bin the rest) find the first suitable person and bing they get it. There is no advantage for them to do much more work as they get paid the same.

I learnt this the hard way when I was getting desperate not finding a place and even offered $40 over the price and still didn’t get one. I ended up asking her what to do. I did as she said, and I got a call the next day saying I was approved.

kezzafezza 2:55 pm 09 Feb 11

When we moved to Canberra 1 year ago we applied for 7 houses, and got approved for them all. So it was nice to have a choice. We had all the paperwork filled out before we went to open homes, and also has copies of all relevant paperwork like payslips. All the agents were quite pleased when we handed them everything completed, while everyone else was standing around filling out forms.
We introduced ourselves to the agents, and had a friendly chat before we looked around. We dressed nicely.
We must have done something right as we have 2 cats and a dog which we did mention and still got approved for every property we applied for

Inappropriate 2:51 pm 09 Feb 11

Any tips for someone who is entering the rental market after being a homeowner for 12+ years (due to a marriage breakdown)?

barbiekini 2:46 pm 09 Feb 11

Great advice! If i can just add a couple more tips to this…
* Download an application form and have it filled out, signed and ready to hand to the property manager after you have inspected the property. Too many people wait until the following day to hand their application in, and by then the property has usually been rented.
* Be on time to the property exhibition, and make sure you know where the property is located prior to the exhibition. This way you can have a good look through the property, instead of rushing in at the last minute as the property manager is about to lock the door.
* Be courteous to the property management staff! We know that looking for a property to rent is stressful, and you can be assured we do everything we can to help you.

MatthewOfCanberra 2:20 pm 09 Feb 11

Single guys will be at a disadvantage. If scruples don’t worry you, and if there’s a lass who’s willing to put her name on the rental agreement, you’ll have a better chance.

Gantz 1:56 pm 09 Feb 11

Great advice! Thats what ive always gone by 🙂

Also, are you American?

Spoono 1:47 pm 09 Feb 11

..and be the first person at the Real Estate agents with the completed paperwork after the rental exhibition.

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