As every experienced tenant knows, securing a rental property can take a lot of time and plenty of effort. First, there’s the search, where you spend multiple hours sifting through online listings and multiple weekends rushing between inspections. Then there’s the application, where you spend several more hours gathering documents and completing forms, with no guarantee of success.
This is particularly true at the moment, with tenants having to navigate an extremely competitive rental market. In most areas, vacancy rates and the supply of new listings have been at near record lows for a while now. At the same time, demand has remained strong with most properties attracting dozens of people at the inspections and multiple applications.
We understand the challenges this is creating and have seen first-hand the significant stress this is causing many renters. We have also heard reports of applicants going to extreme lengths to make sure they get approved. There are easier ways to secure a rental property.
In fact, there are a few simple things any renter can do to maximise their chances of success. Here, we explore these and share our top tips on securing a rental property.
Tip #1: Clearly define your requirements
Before you start your search, it’s important to have a clear idea of exactly what you are looking for. This will help you be quite targeted in the properties you pursue and minimise the time wasted on unsuitable places. It will also give you a framework for assessing your options and choosing the best rental property to secure.
As part of this, you need to look beyond just bedrooms and bathrooms, and about what you really need. Carefully think through your daily routine and identify the things you need to make that easier or more enjoyable. Also, consider the features you value and what will help make a new place feel like home.
You should also spend some time working out what you really must have and what you can compromise on. Given how competitive the market currently is, chances are you won’t be able to get absolutely everything you want. So, if you’re struggling to secure a rental property, you will need to adjust your expectation and make some sacrifices.
Tip #2: Focus on your first impression
While attending inspections can be stressful and time-consuming, it’s a crucial part of securing a rental property. In addition to having a chance to check a place out, inspections are an opportunity to meet the Property Manager. As they help choose who gets approved, it’s worth connecting with them and beginning to build a rapport.
In doing this, it’s important to make an impact, without taking up too much of the Property Manager’s time. Inspections can be quite chaotic for them, as they open up, take details, and answer questions, all within 15 minutes. Often, they will also have multiple inspections booked back-to-back, so running overtime will throw their whole schedule out.
Acknowledging this, you should make sure you arrive on time, and wait nearby until the Property Manager invites you in. When they do, greet them warmly, provide the details they require (usually your name and mobile number), then move on. As you make your way through the property, be courteous to other attendees and respectful of the current tenant’s stuff.
Once you’re done, you can return to the Property Manager to ask any questions you have about the property. This is also a good time to indicate your interest and seek further clarification on the application process (if required). But, again, make sure you are conscious of time and try to keep the conversation short and to the point.
A couple of good questions to ask the property manager:
- Are there any terms the landlord is looking for?
- Do you have any suggestions that will help us secure this property?
A couple of other recommendations when attending inspections:
- A “business casual” dress code: You don’t need to wear a suit, but you still want to be well presented, so we suggest avoiding activewear.
- Keeping your kids close: While children are welcome at inspections, we suggest holding their hands as you make your way around the property.
- Ditching the food and drink: To prevent smells and spills, we suggest finishing your coffee and breakfast roll before entering the property.
Tip #3: Be prepared to move quickly
The high levels of competition mean the market is moving extremely fast at the moment. Most properties will only have one or two inspections, and applications will usually be approved within a couple of days. As such, you need to be decisive and act quickly when you see a place you like.
To help with this, we recommend preparing your application – or at least gathering all the required documents – before the inspection. Then, if you’re interested, you can quickly submit your application after the viewing.
Tip #4: Only apply for properties you are genuinely interested in
If you need to move quickly, you may be tempted to apply for multiple properties, then accept the best offer. However, it’s better to be targeted in your approach, as Property Managers spend a lot of time reviewing applications. As such, they don’t appreciate approving an applicant, only to have them turn down the property.
Doing this can impact your chances of securing a rental property in the future with this agency – they may think you’re applying for lots of other properties and unsure on the one you apply for. With that in mind, you think carefully and decide whether you want the property before submitting your application. We also recommend letting the Property Manager know if you change your mind about a place or find somewhere else.
Tip #5: Make sure your application is complete
We understand that rental application forms ask a lot of questions and require a lot of supporting documents. However, the Property Manager needs this information to be able to assess your application and recommend you to the landlord. As such, it’s vital you fill in all of the required sections and attach all of the requested supporting information.
If you don’t provide everything upfront, your application will take longer for the Property Manager to process. Given how busy they are at the moment, this is time they simply don’t have. So, if someone else provides everything required, they will secure the rental property, even if your application is stronger.
Bonus Tip – Take some internal photos of the property you’re staying in and any projects or improvements you may have made to the property… like the garden and include in your application.
Tip #6: Acknowledge any past issues
A history of late payments, evictions, serious damage, or other problems can impact your ability to secure a rental property. These issues are generally listed on the main rental databases, which most Property Managers check when reviewing applications. As such, there’s no point trying to hide them when applying for a new property.
Instead, it’s better to actively acknowledge your previous problems and provide an explanation for why they happened. This is best done in a cover letter, in which you can also explain how your situation has changed. You may also want to provide additional assurances (e.g. offering to pay rent multiple months in advance) to the landlord.
Tip #7: Try to stay positive
It’s always disappointing to find out that you have missed out on a place that you really liked. The whole process can also wear a bit thin if your search drags on and you keep getting knocked back. However, it’s important to be patient and not allow yourself to get too discouraged.
To help with this, remind yourself that each property, Property Manager, and application are different. As such, you should approach each as a fresh opportunity and make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
Want to discuss this further?
If you’re struggling with securing a rental property or would like advice on strengthening your applications, call Local Agency Co.