Securing your ideal rental property might just come down to how quickly your references answer their phones – or even what your dog looks like.
As it gets harder to find somewhere affordable to live, property managers across Australia are raising the bar in terms of how they decide which tenants to recommend to landlords.
For instance, even your references can hijack your application.
“When references don’t answer our calls or only mobile numbers are given, this gives the property manager a red flag,” Jo Leonardis from Melbourne agency hockingstuart said. “It usually means the applicant is not being honest.”
In March, there were 67,000 properties were available to rent across Australia. Of these, however, only 3729 were affordable for households on income support. For those on a minimum wage, that number grew to 18,976.
Here are property managers’ tips and advice to help you get ahead of the game.
Fill out the application form properly
Make sure your application goes in with all the required documents and supporting information.
Debbie Copley, a property manager with LJ Hooker Kensington and Unley in Adelaide, said missing information might hamper your chances of getting the property.
“If there are four applications and they have everything that is needed and you don’t provide certain information, you may miss out,” she said. “We want to get tenants in as soon as possible.”
Once the application is in, make sure you are easy to contact – and that goes for your references, too.
Landlords, real estate agents and property managers want to know the rent will be paid on time.
This is why property managers thoroughly check applicants’ references. Make sure you offer people who are reliable and trustworthy.
References can include current or past landlords, employers, friends or your next of kin. Ms Copley recommended using four or five references.
Write a cover letter
A brief cover letter will give the property manager an idea of your background.
Include two or three paragraphs about who you are and what your job is. Make sure it has your contact details, current living situation and whether you have pets – and tailor it to the particular property.
Those applying in a group should give a brief introduction of each potential housemate. Remember to keep it professional.
“An applicant should mention the features of the property or area; this may be the lively bar or shopping scenes,” Ms Leonardis said. “They should really explain about the area.”
Emily Sim, from Ray White in Sydney, said applicants should also state what they are “prepared to commit to”. This includes the start date for the lease, its length, the amount of rent, frequency of payment (monthly, fortnightly or weekly) and method of payment.
“Direct debit will be an advantage as the property manager can present to the client that the rent won’t be late,” Ms Sim said. “This is not a requirement of legislation but it leaves everyone feeling as comfortable as they can.”
Also include the name of your next of kin – someone who can be contacted in urgent situations if the property manager or landlord can’t get in touch with you. “Urgent situations” include floods or even deaths in a house.
Ms Sim said if a tenant can’t be contacted within a fortnight, that was a reasonable timeframe to contact their next of kin.
Remember the pets
Pet owners should include detailed information about their four-legged friend or friends, Ms Sim said.
“People get creative and go beyond. They usually include vaccination dates, the animal’s last vet visit and if they are house-trained,” she said.
Some even include photos.
The theory is that this allows the landlord to feel more comfortable with the animal in the house.
“Landlords are not against animals. Sometimes they have a lack of understanding,” Ms Sim said. “This is why the applicant should put together a little description of the pet.”
Remember your manners
Make sure you are approachable and show genuine interest at the open-for-inspection. Introduce yourself to the agent and make yourself memorable.
“People who tend to be more quiet at inspections and don’t express interest, fall behind in the application process,” Ms Leonardis said.
Ms Copley agreed, saying applicants should ask lots of questions about the property, including about the price.
It is also important to be well-presented. Applications are not based on looks, but being well dressed makes you look more professional and responsible.