Getting a rental application right how to wow property managers and landlords

How to create a winning rental application in a high demand market?

Aug 25, 2022 | by DiJones

With record low vacancy rates and climbing demand, the rental market is tougher than ever for prospective tenants, who might find themselves competing with over a dozen others to nab the perfect property.

One thing you can do to maximise your chances of getting the rental you want is prepare your application carefully, making sure that you present as an ideal tenant and giving yourself the edge over other applicants.

The two most important things that an agent or landlord will look for are your ability to pay the rent on time and your willingness to look after the property as if it were your own.

But how do you convince an agent that you can do both of those things better than anyone else?

Here, we look at key things that will strengthen your application and give you a greater chance of success when it comes to getting the lease on the perfect rental property.

First of all, what to include with your rental application

Many agents will be very specific about the documents they want you to supply. Always read through their requirements very carefully and make sure you include everything they ask for. Incomplete applications won’t get a look in, so take the time to gather all of your documents and double-check everything before sending it in.

Among the documents you may be asked for are:

1. Current rental ledger

A rental ledger is an official record that shows the rent and other payments made by a tenant to the owner of a property. Usually drawn up by the property manager using specific software, the ledger shows the date and amount of each payment, which will prove to your prospective new landlord or agent that you are in the habit of paying your rent on time.

To get a copy of your current rental ledger, simply request one from your current manager or landlord.

2. Statement from employer

A short letter from your employer confirming your employment status and, if appropriate, your salary offers proof that you are able to meet the financial obligations of a tenancy. You could also attach your most recent two or three payslips as further evidence of your financial reliability.

3. Bank statement

Providing evidence of a healthy bank balance will also allay any worries that a landlord might have about payments not being made.

4. Previous year’s tax return

If you are self-employed, it might be a great idea to provide a copy of your last tax return with your application, as a letter from yourself is hardly going to cut the mustard as a guarantee of your employment status and salary.

5. Reference from current agent/landlord

Having a good reference from a reputable agent is gold in the rental market. It should include information about the length of your tenancy, your reliability, and how well you cared for your current rental property.

6. Proof of identity

Typically, you will be asked to provide photo ID such as your driver’s licence, passport, or proof of age card and secondary identification like your Medicare card.

7. Cover letter

This isn’t essential, but a short cover letter could make all the difference in the right circumstances. Briefly summarise your personal and professional details and explain why you think the property is a perfect match for you. Don’t forget to highlight your reliability and willingness to look after the property as if it were yours.

You've got your documents, now what else can you do?

Besides proving that you can pay the rent, you will also want to show an agent that you are trustworthy and reliable when it comes to caring for the property. The reference from your previous agent will go a long way towards this, but here are some more tips on how to show yourself in the best light:

1. Inspection etiquette

Turn up for an inspection on time and dress appropriately. Bring your completed (and error-free!) application and all the required documents with you if you have agreed with the agent to lodge a paper application.

2. Be friendly and polite with the agent

Don’t be too pushy with your demands, especially if there are a lot of other people applying for the property. Ask any questions you need to ask pleasantly, remember that this is a professional relationship.

3. Be honest

Speak to the agent openly about anything that could affect your tenancy, such as pets, how many people will be living in the property, or any past issues you’ve had with rental properties. Being upfront about these things establishes your honesty and builds trust between you and the agent.

4. Show a degree of flexibility

You don’t have to bend over backwards to please your agent or landlord, but you might want to consider being slightly flexible when it comes to things like the length of your tenancy, frequency of payments, and even the cost of rent.

What if I've never rented before?

Impressing an agent can be hard if you’ve never rented before. After all, you have no rental history or references from previous agents to help you. But all is not lost! Here are three tips specifically for first-time renters:

Provide a personal reference from your employer. It doesn’t have to be very long, but it should highlight how reliable and trustworthy you are. It should also state the terms of your employment.

If you can, offer to pay rent in advance, for example, offer to pay three to six months upfront.

If you are renting with a group of friends, make sure that everyone’s documents are up-to-date, in on time, and completed correctly.

Summing up

It’s a competitive market out there, but taking the time to polish your application and hone your presentation skills will stand you in good stead when it comes to getting the rental property you really want.

Other renting a house or apartment articles and resources 

Renting a house or apartment in NSW eBook

Guide to renting a property in NSW

Home loan deposits - a complete guide for home buyers

Using superannuation to buy a house or unit - can it be done? 

8 key steps to buying a house or apartment


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