Renting a house is no rocket science in Australia, but it’s not child’s play either. Arriving to the country for the first time, you can’t expect to own a house in just a few weeks or months. Even those who have been here for quite a while still choose to rent. Only seventy percent of the population owns their homes or on mortgage. The rest choose to rent. And why not? Renting involves less financial risks and disposes any home loan debt.
Here are six simple steps on landing your first apartment or flat in the Lucky Country.
Search For A Good Location
Give yourself two to three days and walk around the neighborhood to get a good feel of the area. Take note of the important spots in your town or city like hospitals, shopping malls, schools, and parks (if you have children) to help you decide the area where you would like most to settle in.
And more importantly, take note of the windows of agent displays to see what they are offering, if they fit within your budget, and if they are in the best locations. Carry a small notebook to take note of business names, contact numbers, and prices. This will make a huge impact on your house hunting.
Make sure your flat or apartment is convenient for your commute or has a parking space if you have a car. Most renters fail to consider this factor and end up with headaches and more expenses.
Get The Internet’s Help
In this day and age, there isn’t much you can’t do on the Internet, including apartment searching, and this makes the arduous task relatively more efficient.
Check websites like realestate.com.au, gumtree.com.au, exchangeclassifieds.com.au, domain.com.au, and craigslist.com. These sites offer detailed information regarding houses, apartments, and flats. You can also narrow the search down to your area or your preferred budget for easier selection.
Pro tip: if you have time to spare, you may do the internet searching in advance before flying to Australia. Take note of the name, email, and other contact details of the agents from these websites. Send an email to these agents containing an inquiry about the rental that you like, your arrival date, visa status, occupation, and number of people with you. This would give you the chance to outbid the other renters and/or provide a buffer on your apartment-search. Chances are, you will already have many options once you land ashore.
Find An Agent
Once you find an available property that meets your pre-requisites, contact the managing agency and/or agent managing the property. Calling the agent through the phone is the best option. If he/she doesn’t answer or call back, send him/her a mail containing all the important details he/she needs. It’s a competitive world out there when it comes to renting, especially in big cities, so don’t hesitate in exhausting all options to pursue the agent.
In case you finally reach one, ask all the questions you have in mind, starting with the most important ones. Always be polite and professional in talking to an agent. These people are dealing with a lot of people and undergoing stress but still gives quality time when it comes to potential clients, even if it’s just as short as a five-minute conversation, so return the favor.
Lodge The Application
When putting the application, make sure you supply all the details and documents as completely and accurately as possible. Otherwise, you may lose the bid over someone who’s better prepared.
The documents usually include the following:
- Proof of identity – passport/birth certificate/driver’s license
- Proof of income – payslips (if you’re employed) or bank statements for the last three months (if you are an international student and has no plans of working there)
- Rental payment history- official documents from a previous rental property about your rental payment records
- References – from your current employer and, if possible, a previous landlord; this is one of the most essential parts of the application
- Cover letter – this shows that you are interested about the property
- Current Australian Visa
- Applications are prioritized in the order that they are submitted. If your application lacks on certain documents or details, the agent will focus on the next one in line.
Pro tip: Applications are better submitted before the open house rather than giving them during the event. This saves time for yourself and increases your chances of getting the property.
Visit the Place
The agent/agency will usually hold an open house or viewing events for potential tenants (they need to, since it will be a violation of the law to rent a property that a tenant hasn’t seen yet).
Visit the event so you can see and have a feel of the apartment/flat. It is another opportunity for you to find out if this really is your apartment. Be sure you comply with the house rules (don’t lie on the sofas and keep your voice down) and read the listing sheets if there’s any (these are sheets containing images, specs, and prices).
If the sheets aren’t enough, don’t be afraid to ask the agent clarifying questions, as it’s his/her job to clear any doubts and objections holding back the renters.
If you are decided to rent the place, you may discuss it with the agent after the open house, unless the agent initiates the deal already.
Signing The Lease
Now that you’ve inspected the property personally and you like it, it’s time to sign the lease.
In Australia, it is ideal that you settle the first month’s rent. Also, you will need to pay at least six weeks’ worth of rent as bond for your landlord.
Functioning like security deposits, the bond safeguards the owner/landlord from any damages incurred to the property or any unpaid bills left by the tenant. In all states, the bond is kept by an independent government-owned body, except Tasmania and the Northern Territory, In New South Wales it’s called the Rental Bond Board.
Prior to signing, inquire with the managing agent for any accounts set up with any utility providers to save yourself from connection fees.
Also, remember that each state has a tenant’s association that aims to protect the rights of the renter for your additional support. So it’s best to find the main offices in your area.