A Guide for First-Time Renters
There’s not a whole lot of information out there for first time renters, and it’s certainly not information you’re given in school. But never fear, Savoy are here to give you all the information you could need if you’re thinking about renting a property in Victoria for the first time!
Searching for a Rental Property:
First, you’ve got to decide what you’re looking for. What suburbs? How many bedrooms? Bathrooms? Heating and Cooling? Do you need a garage? Do you have pets and need a yard? How much can you reasonably afford? There are a lot of things to think about.
You’ve got a few options for finding rental properties. Websites such as realestate.com.au, Domain, rent.com.au and Homely are all excellent and generally feature all available listings from all agents. Some of these websites offer the ability to create an account and set an “alert”. When you set your alert you enter your price range, bedrooms and bathrooms required and what areas you are looking in. Then, each day you’ll be sent a list (if available) of properties that sit within your specifications. Using an alert means you don’t have to spend time combing the internet for suitable properties.
You can also go to the real estate offices in the general area you are searching for a property to pick up their rental lists. Most offices provide these or will simply ask you what you are looking for and show you anything suitable.
Generally, by the Tuesday of each week, most agencies will have their open for inspections for the week advertised online. It’s a good idea to send through an online enquiry or call to pre-register for the inspection. That way, if the time changes or the inspection is cancelled the agency can notify you.
If there aren’t inspections available, you can email or call to see if private inspections are available or to put your name down to be notified when an inspection time is made. Do not SMS an agent outside of office hours asking for inspection times, this won’t paint you in a great light come time for applications.
When it comes time to go to the open for inspection, there are a few general rules you should follow to maximise your chances of being noticed and having a successful application:
- Don’t park in the driveway
- Present well (Dressing like it’s a Sunday morning and you don’t plan to leave the house does not give a good vibe)
- Take a moment to introduce yourself to the property manager if there’s time, that way they are more likely to remember you if you apply
- Take a good look around the house, don’t rush, you need to make sure it’s right for you
- Take your shoes off if the agent requests it or ask if you’re required to do so
- Give feedback to the property manager whether you are interested or not, they value feedback that they can give to the owners (They might be at the next property you view too!)
- Ask questions if you have them, most property managers will know the answer on the spot, or otherwise will be happy to find out for you
- Don’t walk around the house loudly pointing out flaws or generally speaking negatively
- Be respectful of others viewing the property
- If tenants are still living there or the property is furnished, don’t touch anything and keep children off the furniture
So, you’ve found the property you want? Time to apply and do it fast! Often if there are multiple applications and if all are good, it’ll be first in best dressed.
Make sure you fill out your application in it’s entirety. Don’t leave fields blank or miss information, most property managers are busy with many applications and will not take the time to call to help complete a half-done application.
Provide all required documentation including photo ID and pay slips and make sure you sign the privacy statement or your application can’t be processed.
You can include a cover letter with your application which can help show a bit of your personality and why you like the property. Some ideas to include in the cover letter are:
- Information and photos of your pets if you have any
- A family photo
- Information about what you do for a living and why you want to live in the area the property is in
- Why you are leaving your current property
- Why the property is suitable for you
- Anything else you’d like to share about yourselves
There are some strategies out there that tenants use to get ahead of the pack. It is purely up to the applicant to decide if they’d like to use these strategies, an agent is not allowed to encourage these:
- Applying at higher than advertised rent
- g. When rent is $350, some applicants may offer $355 to help their application stand out
- Offering a higher bond
- This is often done by tenants who have pets to put the landlord’s mind at ease
- Offering more than one month’s rent up front
Preparing to Move:
If your application is successful, the property manager will call to offer you the property. During this call they’ll discuss what day you’d like to pick up the keys (move in). Once this is set they will arrange a time with you to sign leases or send you leases for digital signature. It’s important to sign your leases as soon as possible to ensure the property is yours.
You will be required to pay a calendar month’s rent in advance and a bond as advertised (most commonly one calendar month’s rent). Some agents require this amount straight away, others just before your move in date.
Rent in Victoria is most commonly charged calendar monthly. You can work this amount out in two ways:
- Weekly rent divided by 7 multiplied by 365 divided by 12
- Weekly rent multiplied by 52 divided by 12
An agent may opt to use either method with the first method being the most common and the one prescribed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Your agent may also offer the use of their moving assistance company. For example, at Savoy we use Connect Now. They are a free service that assist you with electricity, gas, water and internet connections as well as moving vans, contents insurance and more. They are extremely easy to use and take a lot off your plate.
Finally, on your move in day, you will have an appointment with your property manager who will run through everything you need to know about your tenancy and renting through that agency. You’ll sign some documents and be given a copy of the condition report which is used to determine your bond being returned at the end of your tenancy and given your “renting a home guide” from Consumer Affairs Victoria which outlines your rights and responsibilities. After all that is done, the keys are yours and it’s time to move in!
During Your Tenancy:
During your tenancy you will have inspections every 6 months, with the first one being after the first 3 months. It’s important to present the property well for these inspections and note that the agent is legally entitled to conduct these inspections. It’s best to be as accommodating as possible.
You are required to care for the property and garden during your tenancy. Make sure the lawns are mown, keep the property clean and avoid causing damage. The landlord has a legal right to claim compensation for damages should the property be returned to them in a state less than that which it was handed to you in (less fair wear and tear of course).
You are required to report maintenance to your property manager. If you don’t report maintenance that gets out of hand and causes further damage, you may be liable. Should you report maintenance, say an electrical fault that turns out to be caused by one of your appliances, you will be liable for the electrician’s bill. Make sure you test the maintenance item rather than just simply calling the property manager to complain about something not working.
Towards the end of each fixed term lease, you may receive a rent increase (or not) and an offer for a further lease (or not). The best tenants are least likely to get rent increases and are most likely to be offered further leases. Your property manager will be in contact to discuss, or if you’re keen on getting a new lease you can call them to follow up.
When dealing with your property manager, be patient and kind. Property managers are extremely busy professionals with pressure not only coming from tenants but also from landlords. It’s a tougher gig than people give it credit for. Acting the right way towards your property manager will make dealing with them much easier and make your rent experience much more positive overall.
Are you a first-time renter that needs some assistance? Feel free to contact Jess at Savoy Real Estate on 0417 787 985, he’ll be sure to help you out.
* The above information is general in nature and may not apply to your situation. The above information is in accordance with the current legislation as at the 9th of July, 2018.