Cover all bases: How to secure a rental property in today’s tight market

18 Sep 2023 Posted By:

It’s been a tough year for tenants – rental properties are in short supply and competition is high. So what can you do to boost your chances of getting a rental in the current market?
It’s all about standing out from the crowd, developing a relationship with property managers, and being as prepared as possible. Not unlike a job interview.

Write a cover letter

It doesn’t have to be an essay, just one page that provides an overview of who you are, why you’re moving and who will be living in the house. It makes you a person, not just an application number.
Sometimes with online applications there’s no room for this but you could consider adding such information in the comments section so the property manager and owner can get a feel for your situation and what kind of tenant you’d be.
While most property managers attend home opens and try to get to know the applicants, they may not remember them all, or may have had an assistant attend on their behalf. A cover letter can be useful in that situation.

Meet the property manager

It’s essential to introduce yourself to the leasing manager or property manager at the inspection so they can put a face to a name. Ask any questions you may have about the home, owner and any special requirements, and explain your situation to the property manager. This gives both parties the opportunity to develop a rapport.
Building a connection and understanding the rental situation is important. Property managers work to match the right tenant to the property, and they consider many factors, not just who offers to pay the most money. For example, if they’re looking for a tenant for a unit that only has one parking spot, they may choose a single person with one car over a couple with two cars, even if that couple offers to pay extra.

Register your interest with local property managers

Just like the sales market where homes sell ‘off market’, some rental vacancies are filled before the property gets advertised. Property managers may look through their database of potential tenants and find a match there. It might help to register your interest with several property managers and let them know what you’re looking for in case they find a match for you.
Other tips to help you secure a rental include:
  • Have all your paperwork ready to apply. For electronic applications, make sure all information is up-to-date and in the portal ready to click ‘apply’. This includes proof of income, bank statements, proof of identity, proof of address – everything property managers need to efficiently process your application.
  • Give your referees a heads-up – this includes past employers, personal referees and past landlords or leasing agencies. Let them know they can tick the box ‘make this reference available to anyone’ to avoid filling in countless references for different properties, which can become labour intensive for them.
  • Follow up your references – In online submission portals such as 2Apply you can check whether a referee has completed a reference check. If they haven’t it might be worth a polite prompt. Applications with incomplete references have little chance of getting to the top of the pile.
  • Be honest. Apart from your supplied references, property managers may do other background checks including previous rental history. It’s better to be upfront about any issue that may affect your application. This gives you a chance to gain trust and explain any concerns from your rental history.
  • Don’t be tempted to inflate your income. Any property manager worth their salt will look into your ability to keep up rent payments without risking financial duress. Your financial suitability for a property is also automatically assessed by an algorithm within the application system. Most experts recommend capping rent or mortgage payments at 30 per cent of your salary.
  • Be on time for the home open and take the time to properly inspect the property. If you like what you see, be ready to apply the same day. Prior to the inspection, you can check if the location meets your needs in terms of schools, public transport routes, shops, lifestyle amenities, sporting clubs etc

20 December 2022