Looking to rent

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Looking to rent?

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

How do I find and inspect a property to rent?

The easiest way to find properties to rent is via the Internet or by visiting your local real estate agency. The property manager at your local real estate agency will be happy to provide you with a list of available vacancies and information about how to apply to lease a house or apartment/unit.
 
A First National Real Estate property manager can also add you to a tenants’ database so you will receive updates by email or text message. That way you’ll be first to know when your ideal rental property becomes available.
 
Australia has major websites that display most, but not all, rental vacancies. Some major websites are www.squiiz.com.au; www.realestateview.com.au; www.realestate.com.au; www.domain.com.au.

How do I inspect a property to rent?

Some rental properties advertise ‘open for inspection’ times. There’s no need to make an appointment when this is the case. Just turn up at the advertised time and place.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to see the property sooner, telephone the property manager and ask if you can inspect the property by private appointment.

Make sure to take your photo identification with you as you may be asked to register your details (for security purposes) before entering the rental property.

A professional agent will never give you keys to inspect a property without being accompanied.
 
Scam warning:
There are a number of scams that have been reported to Australian police whereby non-real estate industry websites such as www.gumtree.com.au advertise the same property as an agent may be advertising on their website, but for a much lower price. Typically, the contact on such websites will not be available to show you the property but will instead ask you to send a cash deposit in return for the key to the property. Unfortunately, once the cash has been sent the key never arrives. A professional real estate agency will always make an appointment to show you the property or schedule an open for inspection.

What should I look for in a rental property?

From an investment perspective, a rental property is best when it is located close to transport and centres of employment. Typically, this means properties within a 10 km radius of town centres of CBDs will perform better over time.

Tenants like the same fundamentals in a home that you do so look for bright and sunny aspects, neutral colour schemes, good security, parking, storage, and modern conveniences like air-conditioning and dishwashers.

Ideally, your goal should be to buy a property that will deliver maximum capital growth over time. This depends on the three laws of real estate; position, position, position. Also, talk to your mortgage broker about the areas that banks are happier to finance because this generally provides a good guide to areas of lower risk.

Likewise, rental yields differ from area to area, so do your homework. You should be aiming to invest for the medium to long-term and will need solid cash flow to maintain your mortgage repayments.

Think about the demographics of the area in which you want to invest as well. If you’re buying a property near a university, more bedrooms are likely to be more popular with students than a big garden. By contrast, a big garden and a pool will be far more appealing to tenants in a family area.

When it comes to buying an apartment in a Strata Title or Company Title building, make sure you obtain a report on the building’s finances and management from the company that manages the building. This could reveal whether there is any major upcoming maintenance on lifts or pools, or whether there are major future expenses such as roof replacement or fire safety compliance work. With houses, conduct a building and pest inspection before buying.

Above all, focus on buying with your head and not your heart. Many investors look to buy something they would be happy living in but this can lead to mistakes. Stick to the principle of buying a quality property in a good location with all the features that will keep your property rented. That way, when you come to sell, another savvy investor will be prepared to pay a good price for your property.

What should I look for when inspecting a rental property?

There are plenty of things that can make a big difference to how happy you’ll be with a rental property. First National Real Estate suggests you pay attention to the following features:
 
Storage. Built-in wardrobes are an extremely handy feature that saves you the financial outlay on furniture that you may not need in your next rental property.
 
Security. Not all rental properties have deadlocks on doors or alarm systems and it isn’t necessarily a legal requirement that they do. Make sure the property you inspect has security that satisfies you, as the landlord may not respond to requests for an upgrade after you move in.
 
Walls and carpets. Make sure you check the condition of all walls and carpets. While minor cracks shouldn’t concern you, make sure all cracks, scuffs, picture-hanging hooks and marks are noted on the Condition Report. If the agent doesn’t note them down, you have a short period of time - after you move in - to correct the record and it is vital that you do. Likewise, all marks on carpet should be clearly noted.
 
Dampness and mould. When inspecting the property, look out for signs of mould at the base or tops of walls and in corners. This could indicate rising damp, a leaking roof, or ventilation problems.
 
Smoke alarms. All rental properties in Australia must be fitted with a working smoke alarm.
 
Kitchen. Check the kitchen for cleanliness, built-up grease inside cupboards and on tops of cupboards. Look for signs of excrement that could indicate the presence of mice or rats. If there is a dishwasher, check that it is working and that the stove and oven is also in working order (and clean). If there is an exhaust fan, check that it works too. A good-sized pantry can be a very handy feature. Do the taps leak? Dripping taps can dramatically increase your water bill.
 
Bathroom. Test the taps and listen for any strange sounds that would suggest there could be a problem with plumbing. How long does it take for hot water to reach the shower? Is there a bath? Are there any leaks under the sink and does any rusty water come out when you turn the tap on? This could mean the hot water service is getting old, less efficient, and could be expensive to run. Does the toilet flush properly and fill in a reasonable amount of time?
 
Pool. As great as a pool can be for a family or a keen swimmer, maintaining a pool requires some commitment and expense. Talk to the property manager about the cost of pool chemicals such as chlorine, especially if you’ve never managed a pool before. Pools need topping up, cleaning, chemicals to keep them in balance, and most importantly, security fencing. Make sure the pool has safety fencing and a gate that swings shut and latches automatically.
 
Exterior. With houses, check for cobwebs and dust as well as the condition of guttering. Is there safe, well lit access at night time? Is the garden well maintained and do you have the time and ability to keep it well maintained?
 
Rental property checklist: -
1. Storage. Does the property have built-in wardrobes or other handy storage features?  
2. Security. Does the property have deadlocks, an alarm system or window bars?
3. Walls and carpets. Are the walls and carpets in satisfactory condition?  
4. Dampness and mould. Does the property show signs of moisture problems?
5. Smoke alarms. Does the property have a working smoke alarm?  
6. Kitchen. Does the property have modern conveniences and does the stove and oven work?
7. Bathroom. Is this bathroom in a good state of cleanliness and is the hot water service delivering strong, hot water?
8. Pool. Have you considered the running costs and are you confident you can keep the water balanced?
9. Exterior. Is there safe, well lit access at night time? Is the garden well maintained and do you have the time and ability to keep it well maintained?

How do I apply for a rental property, when I find the right one?

Bravo, you’ve found the rental property you want to lease. Now it’s time to apply for it by completing a Tenancy Application form.  Information your agent will be looking for includes, but is not restricted to:
  • Proof of your previous addresses including rental property history
  • Proof of current and previous employment history
  • How many people intend to rent the property with you
  • The date you wish to move in and length of tenancy
  • Proof of identity (copies of photo identification)
The more information you can provide the quicker your rental property application will be processed.

What is a residential tenancy agreement?

A residential tenancy agreement is a legal agreement between a tenant and landlord to lease a property for a period of time. The tenancy agreement (also known as a lease) highlights the legal obligation of both parties during the tenancy period, including:
  • The amount of rent to be paid
  • How often payments must be made
  • The term of tenancy agreement
  • Point of contact ie. if the property will be managed by a real estate agent
  • Conditions of entry and any
  • Special conditions that need to be adhered to.

What is a holding deposit?

Good properties don’t stay on the market for long.  
  • You have to be quick with your decision to apply
  • A holding deposit secures your genuine interest to lease a property and is paid when submitting your Tenancy Application form for a rental property
  • Not all states within Australia permit a holding deposit be paid
  • Check with the managing agent to see if they accept holding deposits or not

What is a residential bond?

A bond offers financial protection to a landlord when renting a property. It is used if a tenant breaches part of their tenancy agreement. 
  • The amount of the bond can vary from state to state and may also depending on the rental value and state of the property, and whether pets are allowed
  • By law, the bond should be registered with the state’s governing body via a bond lodgement form. Both parties to the tenancy agreement complete this.
  • Deductions from the bond may only be withdrawn by the managing agent or landlord. This is to recover costs relating to the end of the tenancy in the event the tenant does not adhered to their obligations as spelt out in the tenancy agreement.

Who pays for the utilities (Water, Gas, Electricity)?

This may vary from property to property however in most circumstances:
  • The tenant must pay for their own electricity, gas and water charges  
  • Details regarding the payment of utilities will be mentioned in your tenancy agreement
  • Ask the landlord or managing agent prior to leasing the property 

Do I need insurance while living in a rental property?

You should definitely take out your own contents insurance before renting a property to cover your personal possessions.   
  • If there were a theft or accident which prevented you from living in the rental property, you would not be covered under any policy the landlord may have in place
  • Ask your First National Real Estate property manager about Tenant Insurance products
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