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For first-time tenants: How to get a rental property

By Paige McCallum

People enter the Australian rental market every day. It could be your first time, or you might have been out of the game for awhile. The good news? That’s completely acceptable.

Many Australians choose to rent for a period of time. They might be saving up for a house, enjoy the renting lifestyle or simply don’t have a more affordable option. But if you’re someone who hasn’t rented a property before, you might feel a little stuck without references from a previous landlord or agent.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. You can easily demonstrate that you would make a good tenant.

Understanding why references are required will help you to tailor your rental application accordingly, even if you’ve never rented before.

  1. Give the agent/landlord some financial  proof

    If you’re not currently renting, you can easily show that you can meet your financial obligations. Print out your bank statement showing the payments you’ve consistently made for your mortgage or any other loan or payment plan you’ve been on for the last year. Even if the best bet you have is a mobile phone plan, they’ll be impressed that you took meeting your financial obligations seriously enough to provide this.

Note: For current renters, it’s easy to show you can consistently pay your rent on time by providing a Rental Ledger (ask your agent or landlord for one).

2. Think about getting a guarantor

A guarantor is someone who will back you up if things go pear-shaped along the way. Normally, a guarantor will be your parents. They will need to complete an application form, provide identification and proof of income, as they will be equally responsible for looking after the house and paying the rent. You should just mention on the lease that they will not be living at the property. This can be a huge boost to your chances of application success.

3. Show you can look after a house

Proving you can look after a rental property as a first-time renter when you’ve got no rental experience is tough – but not impossible. If you’ve just sold your house, get a letter, or provide the phone number of the agent you sold your house through. This can explain to your agent or landlord how well-presented your house was for inspections. A phone or written reference from a long-time friend, or current / ex-employer mentioning how well your house / workspace is kept can also help.

Note: If you’re currently renting, you can obtain copies of routine inspections or references from your agent or landlord. These will identify how well-presented your house was for inspections.

4. Come armed with good references

While references from previous landlords are usually requested when you apply for a rental property, that’s not to say you won’t be able to demonstrate your trustworthiness in other ways. If you’ve been living in a student hostel, you could provide a reference from the complex manager. References from your employer or manager can demonstrate your sense of responsibility. Otherwise, references from neighbours, teachers, or even your doctor could help bolster your application.

Good luck!


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