5 tips for renting in Australia without a rental history

If you’re like most migrants, you probably won’t have a brand new house to call your very own when you land in Australia. But that’s ok. With house prices increasingly on the rise, home ownership is down to just 34% in the latest census anyway.

In short, renting is very much a normal thing in Australia these days, so new arrivals will fit right in.

But the first challenge you’ll face is actually getting the opportunity to put a signature on a lease. Because demand is up, so is the competition for that lease. And renters with a solid rental history will probably be higher in the queue, as occupying someone else’s house or apartment means a set of legal and financial responsibilities.

So what can you do to boost your chances of getting that first lease?

1. Use a guarantor

It may not be a viable option for many Aussie newcomers, but getting a guarantor to back up your application will reassure the agent and the landlord that the rent will be paid. Once six to 12 months of successful rental history is on your record, you will then be on your way to future applications without needing a guarantor.

As an alternative a reference from someone in authority – perhaps a boss, a university professor, a doctor or any eminent person in the community may help. The downside always is to find that ‘someone’ when you have just landed.

If they ask for guidance as to what to put in that reference, tell them that salary information, job history details and everything about your positive personal and professional attributes will all be very helpful.

2. Offer direct debit

Landlords have misgivings about applicants with no rental history for several reasons, but as suggested above, the major concern is about getting that rent paid. One option is for an applicant to offer to set up a direct debit. Some agents may even request it, but offering or being open to direct debit represents a solid commitment to pay rent each and every time, on time. Offering to pay six months rent, up front, will also put you in a favourable position. If some of your income is from Centrelink, you can look into the helpful Centrepay system that can make rent deductions automatically.

3. Demonstrate payment history

You may have no rental history, but you may have a history of making payments regularly. And that may be very helpful for the landlord to know. Many of us have paid off a purchase on a finance contract or paid every week or month for a car. Show that to the agent or landlord and it may boost your case that you are a reliable and responsible prospective tenant who pays consistently.

4. Be detailed about your income

On a rental application, one of the most important questions is about your income. So don’t skip over it without being very clear.

That’s because it’s especially important when you don’t have a rental history as a backup. So if you have managed to secure a job, be detailed about where the income comes from, how often it gets credited to your bank account, how long you’ve been employed, and whether you have a supplementary income.

5. 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.

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.

SOME MORE TIPS FOR FIRST TIME RENTERS

  • Do your paperwork: Get your documentation, ID’s, payslips and references in order prior to making your bid.
  • 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.
  • 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 – Need more help? The Australian government’s resource page on renting property is well worth a read – LINK 

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