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7 rental application hacks that actually work

By George Hadgelias

Getting your rental application to stand out can be hard – especially when they all look the same.

However, there are some tricks of the trade that can help give you an edge in the application process.

Read these tried and tested hacks from real renters.

1. Get in quick

Have everything you need for your application ready to go before you inspect the property.

“Some inspections can be incredibly competitive and you’re in a market with a dozen other shining candidates – it can literally come down to timeliness,” Sydney-based renter, Rebecca shares.

If an agent is accepting applications in-person, have all your documents handy and your application filled out and ready to hand over on the spot. If the applications are being submitted online, ensure all your relevant documents are saved in an easy-to-find file on your computer, ready to attach or upload and send off as soon as you’ve inspected.

“I once left an open inspection and saw a couple filling out their application on their laptop in their car!” Rebecca notes. “I didn’t get the house.”

2. Be organised

The key to timeliness? Organisation.

Little things like unclear file labelling or accidentally leaving out a vital supporting document can make or break an application.

Remember, the owner might be syphoning through 50 applications – they aren’t going to chase you for a document everyone else has supplied.

This can be a particularly important step if you’re applying with multiple housemates.

3. Work on your presentation

Show up to an inspection looking like a model tenant.

“I remember going to an inspection where there were at least 20 other people, mostly students,” says Holly, a young renter based in Hobart.

“While most of them were dressed like students – a little dressed down, a little grunge, if you will – I dressed up a bit, like I would for a job interview. I looked a bit more polished, perhaps a bit more responsible, and I think the agent noticed. We had a chat at the inspection and I’m 99% sure that’s what got me that house.”

4. Add a cover letter

Adding to the last point, Melbourne renter Emma says she always treats rental applications like job applications – which means including a cover letter.

“I always include a cover letter explaining my circumstances and finances, [which can be] particularly important if you are self employed and have various income streams,” she says.

“I’m a single parent. I get child support from the kids’ dad, Centrelink payments, plus, I run my own business. I also have shares which I mention in the letter too.”

5. Talk yourself up

Don’t be shy to submit a couple of extra documents with your application that show you would be a stellar tenant.

Get written references from former landlords or your employer. If you’ve received any awards or recognition for your work in the community, pop them in. Do you run a really great blog or do volunteer work? It can’t hurt to mention!

6. Make a relationship with your agent

Leigh from Sydney, now a home owner but with 15 years of rental experience behind her, used this tactic to land a few rental homes, most notably an apartment in beachside Coogee.

“In a competitive market like Sydney, every high-quality house is easily going to get more than half a dozen decent applications,” Leigh says. “This means, if you want to get that amazing place, you have to separate yourself from the crowd in a way that doesn’t rely on just the application.

“I found the best way to do this is to spend time at the inspection hanging out with the agent and just chatting with them. At the end of the day, the agents will give the place to someone they like and if you can get them to like you, they’re more likely to choose you.”

7. Follow up

Finally, if it’s all about standing out, gently follow up after you’ve submitted your application.

Keep it friendly and simply ask the agent or owner what the field was like, what they were looking for in a tenant and if there’s anything else you can do.

Once you get approved, it’s time to start putting things in place. Pay your bond quickly, organise your move, get your utilities hooked up and consider getting rental insurance to protect you and your belongings in your new home.

And if you’re ever unsure of the advice you’re getting from various providers, talk to friends and family and listen to what they have to say.

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