23 Jun 2017

Standing out when applying for rentals


First Step buyer’s agent and investor Dave Ward said it was crucial to remember who you needed to impress to secure a rental. This is usually not the property owner themselves.

“The landlord is often sold the tenant by the rental manager,” Ward said.

“The property manager undertakes the reference checks and ultimately provides the landlord with their opinion,” he said.

At the open for inspection

  • Dress smartly.
  • Be on time.
  • Introduce yourself to the property manager.
  • Be genuine.
  • Communicate clearly.

One of the first contact points for most tenants and landlords is at the open home. This is usually the first time a property manager has seen a tenant in person and often the first time they have spoken.

Tenants Union of NSW policy officer Ned Cutcher recommended tenants try to make themselves “memorable” and “known” to the property manager, particularly at a busy open home with lots of people viewing.

“Building up a rapport is the best advice I can give to tenants,” he said.

LJ Hooker Double Bay senior property manager Nicholas Hayes said being on time is critical as being late suggests you are disorganised and forgetful.

“Even if you’re running five to 10 minutes late, a simple phone call or SMS is common courtesy and keeps everyone happy,” he said.

Many tenants do not converse with the property manager when they see a rental, particularly if it’s busy.

In reality, if it’s busy it means the property is popular and it’s even more critical to introduce yourself to the managing agent, Let’s Rent managing director Lisa Indge said.

“A tenant should introduce themselves, even if it’s busy, and follow through if they promise an application,” Indge said.

However, controlling how you speak to the agent is also critical – you want to appear “reasonable” but not “demanding”.

“When we’re talking to someone, what we don’t want to hear is that the home needs to be re-painted, re-carpeted and with a new kitchen for them to consider it,” she said.

“They should instead ask whether the landlord would consider making the change.”

She also warned against bringing children to the open for inspection, particularly if they’d struggle to stay behaved.

“How the tenants act at an open home is a clear sign of how they’ll treat the property if they rent it,” she said.

Your application form

  • Ask how the agent prefers to receive the application.
  • Fill it out completely.
  • Aim for a personal touch.
  • Provide detail to explain anything that may be unclear.
  • Provide the application in a timely fashion.

A quick way to alert a property manager that you’re a good person to do business with, is to inquire as to how they would like to be sent their applications.

Many agencies preferred online applications for the ease of processing and contacting tenants, Indge said.

If you’re applying with other people, ensure you all have your applications completed on time so the agency isn’t waiting for more details to consider you.

Although filling out every field on the application is critical, you should also consider giving it a personal touch.

“It’s nice to have a bit of a story in your application, not three pages but a paragraph is great, as really all we’re doing is basing it on that application,” Indge said.

This could include details on why you’re moving to the area, but also any explanations around discrepancies in your application.

Indge said it’s “not an exact science” – however, she would be hesitant to rent a property to someone where the rental cost was 40 per cent or more of their income. If there was other income coming in that wasn’t from your main employment, this information would be best included on the application.

Ward said that adding detail could also help remove suspicions that would otherwise be unfounded.

“I am wary when it’s a four-bedroom home and it’s a single person applying [to rent it] as you don’t know if they’re going to be subletting it out or what they’re doing,” he said.

“It’s always difficult to assess beforehand, especially with younger people who don’t have as much of a rental record.”

For a prospective tenant who can explain why they need the extra rooms, or can provide alternative references to explain their character when they have not previously rented, these issues can be quickly ironed out.

Supporting information and other considerations

After your application, your next chance to impress a property manager is with your references.

These will usually be from previous landlords, housemates, property managers and even campus building managers if you have never rented in the private market before.

Indge warns that regularly she calls references who are unavailable or had not been told they had been used as someone’s rental referee. Speaking to your references beforehand and knowing what they are likely to say is a good way to make sure you’re not caught off guard.

Similarly, if a tenant has pets, it’s recommended to include references that can speak to their behaviour.

Indge suggested including references from rentals where the pet has been before, information on whether the dog has a walker or goes to doggy day care and details about the pooch’s behaviour and vet details.

Once the references have been called, if it’s still a tough call for a property manager – offering a little extra in weekly rent may be good as it “shows you’re keen,” Indge said.

“If the competition is there it demonstrates the strength of your interest in the rental,” she said.

Hayes recommends going above and beyond with the details provided to support your application.

“A potential tenant who is able to show their income on a payslip is standard, however a potential tenant who is also able explain their spending trends, show bank statements and demonstrate their saving capabilities can show forward thinking and planning,” he said.

Despite all these efforts, you may still not be the strongest applicant for the property and will have to keep searching.


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