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Preparing to Rent in Australia: Your Rental Application

Woman filling out rental application

Before you start looking for a rental home and well before you prepare to move, you will need to get your rental application in order. Your rental application is a collection of documents that show your potential property manager that you’re a star tenant - basically, why should they rent their property out to you? To find out everything you need to know about rental applications, what to include, and how to make your rental application shine through so you can get your dream rental home, continue reading below.

What is a rental application?

A rental application is a form all prospective tenants are required to fill out for a rental property, to help property managers/owners choose the best rental candidate(s). In addition to the rental application form, you should include additional documents to make your application stand out. These documents need to make you stand out, and show your potential property manager:

  • You will pay your rent on time
  • You’re a courteous neighbor
  • You will respect their property and leave it in good condition

The more information you include, the more you’ll stick out as a star tenant and the better your chances are of getting the rental home you want.

What should be included in a rental application?

In addition to your rental application form, which will outline all the basic details of you and your life, income, employment, education, and rental history, you will stick out even more by including the following information:

 Rental resume: Consider compiling a rental resume to bring with you to apartment viewings. A rental resume should contain all your basic information a property manager might want to know, including: personal and contact details, education, current employment status and salary, rental history, and references. Bring a printed copy of your rental resume to each apartment viewing, so you can give it to the property manager straight away when you find a place you like.

 Rental cover letter: This should include more about who you are, who will be living on the property, and why you’re the best potential tenant(s). For bonus points, cater each cover letter to the specific property you’re applying to, after you view it, and mention why you like the property (good commute to your university, nice location, etc). While this cover letter should be formal, let your personality show so your potential property manager can get to know you as a person a little better.

 Pet information: If you want to move with your furry friend, include a resume about them as well. Include their temperament, vet and health history, and other information a potential property manager/owner would want to know about any animals living on their property. Remember, pet bonds are only legal in Western Australia, but check your state’s laws when it comes to renting with a pet.

 Work reference letter: Have your boss, employer, or a colleague write a reference letter attesting to your employment and character as an employee. Property managers want to know you’re a reliable employee who will be able to pay rent on time.

 Character reference letter: Find someone who is not family to write a character reference letter. This could be a neighbor (to attest to the fact that you’re a considerate neighbor), teacher or professor (who knows you personally), and/or a past landlord who can vouch for you as a model tenant. Having more than one of these reference letters from different sources can boost your chances of getting your dream home.

 Pay slip or proof of income: Include your pay slips if you’re employed, and any Rent Assistance or other allowances/payments you might get that will prove to potential landlords that you will be able to pay your rent on time.

 Rental history: If you’ve rented previously, your rental history will show all former addresses, late rent payments, evictions on your record, criminal history, credit score and other information a property manager might want to know. This information can be accessed with your permission by landlords or managers, and is very important to a successful rental application.

 Photo ID: You will need a copy of your valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Make copies ahead of time rather than wait for the property manager or agent to follow up with you.

It’s important to remember that viewing and inspecting potential rental homes should be given the same weight as a job interview. Dress well, show up on time, and show interest in the property being viewed in order to stand out and increase your chances of your application being accepted.

How to create a rental application as a first-time renter

If you’re a first-time renter, you won’t have a rental history to show property managers. Don’t worry though! Everyone starts off as a first-time tenant, and by including a bit more information and creating a quality rental application, you won’t need to worry about property managers passing over you. In addition to everything listed above (where applicable), you should include and focus on:

 Find a guarantor: If you’re renting for the first time, or don’t have good credit history, you might need someone to co-sign your lease. This person will be held accountable if you don’t pay your rent or damage the property, and can add credibility to your rental application. In some instances, this can be your parent, guardian, or someone else who is employed and with good credit.

 More references: Good-quality character references can sway a property manager/landlord to rent to you. Teachers or professors, business partners or associates, employers, doctors, or neighbors can all act as references.

 Last utility bill (such as phone, electricity, or gas bill) or rates notice

If you’re a first-time renter, it won’t hurt to build a relationship with the agent, property manager, or landlord. Ask them what additional information or documents might increase your chances of your application being accepted, talk with them during the viewing, and show your interest in the property.

What if I’m blacklisted as a renter?

During the rental application process, agents and/or property managers will probably access your rental history. Your rental history can be found on the National Tenancy Database, and you will need to give the agent or property manager approval to check it when submitting your rental application. The National Tenancy Database checks and verifies:

  • The tenants identity
  • Bankruptcy and court records
  • Problems in previous rental history

This database will also highlight if you’re blacklisted as a tenant. To be blacklisted means a previous landlord or property manager lodged a complaint against you, that was effective enough to get you blacklisted as a future tenant. This can pose a problem if you had previous issues with a rental property, and want to rent again.

Reasons you might get blacklisted as a tenant include:

  • Consistently late rent
  • Excessive damage caused to property
  • You use your bond to cover outstanding rent
  • You’ve been evicted

If you’re notified that you’ve been blacklisted during the rental application process, you can take steps to change this status by paying anything you owe. If you pay the amount owed within three months of the due date, your name will be wiped from the database.


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