First impressions count
Just like a job interview, arriving well-presented and on time goes a long way to help make a positive first impression at a property viewing. Some successful renters even go so far as printing a “renting CV” or cover letter, with information about themselves and their renting background. This is especially handy if you’re applying as part of a group of flatmates. A short blurb about each tenant and how long you’ve lived together (or known each other) gives the landlord confidence you’re not going to move out in two months because one of you doesn’t like each other.
Providing printed copies of referee letters from previous landlords, or a letter from a guarantor, will also help you stay one step ahead. Make sure you take time to chat to the landlord or property manager, so they learn a little about you and are able to remember you when going through their stack of tenancy applications.
Complete the application form (yes, really)
Ensure your pre-tenancy application form is well filled out. It should go without saying, but a surprisingly large percentage of potential tenants leave blank spaces where their referee details or driver licence number should be (used for credit checks). In a competitive market, the landlord or property manager will be unlikely to chase you for this information, and you might find yourself at the bottom of the shortlist.
If you’re applying as a group of flatmates, it can be hard to get every one of you to the viewing. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary details for each of the prospective tenants, so you’re not left with any information gaps. Check out the government’s standard pre-tenancy form to get an idea of the details you’re likely to be asked for.
Know your weak spots and be honest
Consider any red flags that you might raise as a potential tenant, and how you can front foot them with the landlord or property manager. Whether it’s bad credit, employment status or two adorable family dogs, a conversation goes a long way in helping explain your situation. For example, you might be “unemployed” on paper, but perhaps you’re in between contracts, have just been made redundant, are taking time off to be with family or have just started a new business. Hunting for a rental property shouldn’t make you feel like you’ve got a skeleton in your closet.
With many renters refreshing online listing sites multiple times a day, it’s no surprise that a property manager will start receiving enquiries within hours or even minutes of a listing being published. If you’ve been sending emails or filling out online forms without much luck, consider taking it old school and picking up the phone. We’re looking at you, millennials. A phone chat helps you jump to the front of that ‘first impressions’ queue, and pitch your story to the property manager before they’ve even unlocked the door for the open home.
Understand the basics
Especially if you’re renting for the first time, it can be hard to get your head around the process or understand what’s going to be asked of you next. Do your research, so you’re prepared. For example, you’re likely to be asked for photo ID and referee and employer details. The landlord or property manager might want to run a credit check on you, and they’ll expect you to have enough cash to pay your bond up front.