Renting a Property in Australia for the first time

Your First Rental Home

More often than not, newly arrived migrants will move into a rental property, at least initially, until their main priorities like getting a job, schooling and other affairs are sorted. However securing a rental without any rental history, especially for migrants without any ‘local’ residence proof is easier said than done.

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How to Find a Rental Property

You should apply the same criteria to finding a rental property as you would to buy a house. This is especially true if you intend renting for a long time. First find a suburb that you like, that you can afford and which is convenient for work. Also, if you are emigrating with a family you need to check out the local schools.

The Web

Some of the leading online portals for property hunting in Australia are:

Realestate.com.au
Domain.com.au

Real Estate Agents

Most of the properties on the market will have a signpost with the name of the real estate agency who is handling the property. Besides, you could just walk into the offices of any agency on your street or in your suburb to discuss with the agent and get a brochure of recent istings.

Newspapers

Local newspapers usually carry a rental property section on a specific weekday and a supplement at the weekend. Also, free local weekly newspapers have similar property listings. Advertisements in the newspapers usually provide information on a guide weekly rental price and location.

Gumtree and Local Notice Boards

Some private listings can be found on Gumtree as well as the local community notice boards in shopping malls, libraries etc. However this should never be the first preference as you may not be aware of the legitimacy of the proposal as well as the legal requirements when getting into a rental contract.

Procedure for renting

Agents usually require you to present a set of documents for securing a rental property. Each document gets a certain score and you must achieve particular point level (usually 90 – 100). Some of the common documents requested are:

  1. Passport (Australian of Foreign) or Australian Driving license/Photo ID. –  50 points
  2. Bank Debit Card – 20 points
  3. Credit card – 20 points
  4. Library card/Student card/Medicare card or any other form of ID – this may vary
  5. Letter of Employment. Or Proof of income – this may vary

In addition, they will request you to provide contact to some referees. If you are new to Australia, you can provide them contact details of your teacher/employer/hotel. If you have been here for quite a while, they will prefer details of your current/previous landlord or real estate agent.

Here is a sample requirement from one of the leading estate agencies

 

You are required to meet a 100 point identification criteria upon submission of your application.

These typically are:

  • 10 Points: Medicare Card, Motor Vehicle Registration Papers
  • 30 Points: Bank Statements, recent utility accounts eg: phone, electricity or gas.
  • 40 Points: Drivers Licence, Passport, 18+ Card, Birth Certificate
  • You are also required to supply the agent with proof of your income.
  • Employed: Last TWO Payslips
  • Self Employed: Bank Statements, Group Certificates or Accountants Letter.
  • Not Employed: Centrelink Statement
  • If you are currently renting a property the last four rent receipts are required for photocopying

Rules and Regulations

Some things to remember:

  • You will have to pay a month’s rent in advance
  • You will have to pay a bond (usually 4 weeks rent). The bond is lodged with a State government body. For example in Queensland this amount is retained by Rental Tenancies Authority (RTA) and kept in an independent holding account. This amount will be returned (minus any deductions for any damage caused to property or any other pre-determined conditions) to the tenant on completion of the lease.

To succeed in applying for a rental property you will have to:

  • Sign a contract or Tenancy Agreement
  • Show employment and personal references
  • Show three months worth of pay slips or a letter from your accountant if you are self-employed
  • Three months of bank statements
  • Provide multiple proofs of ID showing your name and address. Some of these must also include a photo. (passport, drivers licence, utilities bill)
  • A letting agent will probably also run a credit check on you.

TIPS FOR FIRST TIME RENTERS

  • Do your paperwork: Get your documentation, ID’s, payslips and references in order prior to making your bid.
  • Payments: Let the agent and owner know that you are happy to set up a direct debit to pay your rent. Offering to pay six months rent, up front, will also put you in a favourable position.
  • Do your own legwork: Don’t expect a rental agent to help you find a place. They’re very good at showing you specific properties once you’ve expressed interest but they will not organise visits or escort you to multiple properties as happens in many countries. Be prepared to deal with several different agents as you search for a rental property.
  • Use 1Form: Use the 1Form online application and keep it ready as most leading realestate agents will have access to this form and it will expedite the process, especially if you are not physically present in the particular city or suburb. 1 Form requires more details than most agent’s applications but once completed you are ready to submit it online the instant you find a place you like. All you then need is your agent’s details such as company name and email. Just let the rental agent know you will be submitting your 1 Form application online.
  • Choose a house or unit suitable to your specific need. If you are a family with three children, looking for a two bedroom unit will not get you anywhere. You will need to look for a three/four bedroom house to accommodate the family. If you have a pet, read the requirements of the landlord or the agency in this regards.
  • Make an offer. Do not hold back or feel sensitive about it, especially if you know there is a lot of interest in the particular property. Even a 5$ extra bid may be enough to help you secure the property.
  • Follow up with a phone call: Always follow up your application with a phone call, preferably within the first forty-eight hours. Agents get inundated with forms and applications so it is advisable to put a face (or a voice) to the name.

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MIGRANT NINJA TIP – Go for a couple of house inspections, called as Open House, during weekends in the suburb you intend to relocate to. This does not necessarily be the ultimate property you intend to settle in but it will give you an insight into the application process and also give you an idea of the current market trend. 

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