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How to be a successful applicant in the most competitive rental suburbs

By George Hadgelias

Location continues to be a high priority for Australian tenants and while competition to secure a rental property in certain suburbs is rife, there are some clever tactics to help improve a tenant’s chances of nabbing their dream home. 

From crafting a rental application to building good rapport with a property manager, there are several steps to ensuring success in a competitive rental environment, and it helps to understand the market before starting the application process.

Where are Australia’s most popular rental suburbs?

Despite many tenants turning their attention to regional areas during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, new data from realestate.com.au shows the top 10 most popular rental suburbs for houses and units remain in Australia’s capital cities.

The inner Melbourne enclave of Richmond was the most popular suburb in the country for tenants looking for houses in 2020, while Melbourne had the highest engagement for unit hunters.

Elsewhere at a state level, Blacktown (ranked sixth nationally) was the most popular suburb for tenants seeking a house in Sydney, while Parramatta was the most sought-after area for those looking for a unit.

In Queensland, Redbank Plains was the most in demand suburb for rental houses and Brisbane City was the most popular for units.

Melbourne-based property manager Sam Nokes of Jellis Craig – Stonnington said he’s not surprised Richmond continues to be in high demand.

“Richmond has got everything. It’s an island that abuts the city. It’s got access to the rest of the east as well as the north and the south. There’s always a new venue popping up, a new coffee shop,” Mr Nokes said.

“There’s also the developing parts of Richmond, so more dwellings. Not only are there more people wanting to get into the suburb, but there’s more opportunity to get into it.”

Mr Nokes said many tenants are also taking advantage of rental decreases due to a glut of rental properties on the market while international borders are closed.

“We’ve leased out more executive homes in Richmond in the last 12 months than have been leased out in many years prior to that,” he said.

“The Melbourne CBD is also seeing three times the normal transaction for this time of the year. There are more people moving in the CBD than ever before and many are moving within the same buildings.

“If there has ever been an opportunity to snap up the coolest, highest apartments in the city, now is the time to do it.”

While city suburbs continue to be the most sought after for tenants, some regional areas are also in renters’ sights including Byron Bay, which has seen a surge in interest during COVID. Realestate.com.au data shows demand for rental houses in the holiday hotspot increased by 58% between January and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, while demand for units jumped by 29%.

Senior property manager at Elders – Bangalow Kimberley Virtue said they currently only have a few live listings available in the region.

“The demand from outside the area is still very high,” Ms Virtue said.

Five tips for winning the dream rental

With multiple applicants gunning for the same property, prospective tenants should consider these five expert tips when applying for a rental.

1. Have the 1form application ready to submit

Property managers expect rental applications to be correctly completed before forwarding them to the landlord. If there is information missing from the 1form, it’s less likely the tenant will proceed further in the application process, said Mr Nokes.

“We don’t have the resources to chase up one application when I’ve got four others that have everything filled out. I saw one recently that was a brilliant application but it had no contact details for any of their references,” he said.

The 1forms can be pre-filled giving tenants plenty of time to prepare themselves for the application process. There is a section for pets and any supporting documents, including a cover letter.

If there is more than one tenant signing the lease, Mr Nokes suggested applying together.

2. Inspect the property

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented many physical inspections from taking place, especially if the home is tenanted as occupants have been less willing to open their homes, according to Mr Nokes.

However, most real estate agencies have embraced digital inspections so prospective tenants can view a property before they apply. There is an option in 1form that allows the applicant to select that they have either digitally or physically inspected the property and are satisfied.

3. Have strong references

Landlords and property managers usually do background checks on potential new tenants, so applicants should ensure they have appropriate references who can give them an honest review.

Not every applicant will have rental history but this doesn’t mean they can’t nominate other referees, including managers, colleagues or even personal referees such as friends and family members.

Ms Virtue stressed that applicants should organise their references before applying for a rental.

“This is a big issue at present [in Byron Bay] as many applicants are failing to get back to me in time to provide the required reference,” she said.

4. Be a good communicator

It pays to be a strong communicator when it comes to applying for a rental property as property managers cannot afford to waste time on unreliable applicants.

Applicants need to be responsive and answer phone calls and emails. If the property manager needs more information or background checks, the prospective tenant must be willing to meet these requests quickly. It’s also important the applicant has their bond ready to be transferred.

5. Build rapport with the property manager

If a tenant strikes out with one rental, building rapport with the property manager could lead to the tenant finding another home in the area and even being the first to know about it.

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