Renting is reality. As affordability pressures increase for many Canberrans, living in a rental property becomes a preferable option to seeking out a home to buy. CoreLogic reports that even of those that still live at home, 40 per cent think they will rent before they buy.
What this means for tenants on the ground is that there is going to be more competition at flat viewings and throughout the application process. We spoke to Rachel Tynan, leasing consultant at our Tuggeranong office, about how tenants can put their best foot forward when they apply.
1) Make sure your paperwork is in order
Becoming a tenant means filing a lot of paperwork. Even before the tenancy agreement or bond lodgment form, most prospective renters will have to fill out a tenancy application to secure a lease. However, Rachel says many people struggle to get this done right.
"A lot of the time, tenancy applications are not filled out completely – or are filled out incorrectly. In some cases, people even provide false information. Our team checks through everyone's application thoroughly, so chasing this tenant information can be time-consuming, even delaying the approvals process. Being forthright and providing detailed, accurate information helps out tenants, manager and landlords a lot."
"Applicants that prepare a 1form profile in advance can have the edge over others"
"On top of this, understand the system. Most real estate agencies use some form of electronic application program, like 1form. Applicants that prepare a 1form profile in advance can have the edge over others – they'll have all of their supporting documents ready to submit, saving time and showcasing their organisational skills."
2) Communicate with everyone you need to
For many tenants, filling out an application is just that – completing a form. However, as Rachel points out, the best applicants will often take things a few steps further.
"The best prospective tenants are well-prepared with application and supporting documents ready. Furthermore, they will notify their existing property manager or landlord and even their employer about the process. These people are usually their references, so letting them know we'll call them is always a good move."
"Communication is important for every applicant we see. Specifically, we look for tenants who are polite, honest and up-front about their circumstances – no matter what they are. This includes their employment and any issues with past tenancies – being open with us will always count as a positive."
3) Everyone needs to be prompt – not just the tenant
Saving time with your application and paperwork doesn't just mean quickly filling out forms – good timing should be something tenants think about at every step of the process.
"It's not necessarily a case of 'the early bird gets the worm', but tenants should be turning up to open homes on time – they should also be well-presented," Rachel explains.
"Starting an application the right way isn't all on the tenant though – our property managers also have to hold up their end of a deal. This means arriving on time, being polite and courteous with every potential tenant, and providing prompt information updates on how the application process is going."
"Our managers should also provide enough information about a property and owner requirements. This means transparency through the whole process – applicants should not receive any unsavoury surprises when they get halfway through an application."
"It's important for both sides to build a good relationship, and that needs to be founded on open communication well before an agreement is signed. This ensures a smoother tenancy with no problems for any involved party."
4) Understand what people are looking for
In a hot rental market, competition can be tough. However, tenants can give themselves a good chance of success simply by understanding where the attention is – and where it is not.
"Traditionally, the rental market in Canberra starts to quieten down around April," Rachel says. "However, we are experiencing continued demand at the moment – on average, we are getting more than 40 people attending open homes."
"On average, we are getting more than 40 people attending open homes."
"This is certainly increasing competition amongst applicants – in particular, we are receiving a lot of interest in free-standing houses in the Tuggeranong area."
If tenants are willing to downsize, this could mean apartments will be the path of least resistance. However, if you have your sights set on a standalone home, it will pay to spend as much time preparing as you can.
5) There is plenty to choose from
Even with a great application, tenants will sometimes find themselves unlucky. "At the end of the day, it is the owner's decision on who gets the property," Rachel states. "They will review applications and references with me before they decide, but it is their choice."
But for tenants that are in this situation, remember there is a lot of property out there – it's just being snapped up quickly. SQM Research's data shows that Canberra' vacancy rate is currently less than 1 per cent – use these tips to get your best foot forward, and talk to the team at Peter Blackshaw Real Estate if you need more information.