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How to make your rental application stand out

By Matthew McCormack

In a rental market as tight as Sydney’s, it’s very likely that you’ll come up against some stiff competition when submitting an application to rent a house. The latest vacancy figures from SQM Research show that the Harbour City continues to post a limited number of empty rentals, with just 1.8 per cent currently unoccupied.

So what can give you the edge over other prospective renters? A glowing application can put you in good stead with the agent. Here are some tips to help you navigate the rental application process and secure your preferred home.

Gather your references

The important thing to remember about being a renter is your reputation is everything. The success of your application can depend on your performance, both fiscally and behaviourally, in a previous property. Agents use tenancy databases to screen prospective tenants, particularly checking whether they have breached the terms of a lease and the seriousness of the incident.

Your name will only pop up on a tenancy database if you’ve run into serious problems, so if you’ve maintained a clean rental history there’s little chance you’ll be listed. This means paying rent on time and in full, adhering to the lease agreement and keeping the property in good order. In fact, according to Fair Trading NSW, you can only be entered into the system for the following two reasons:

  • You vacated a property owing more than the rental bond for a breach of the lease agreement, which hasn’t been paid back
  • The tenancy tribunal terminated your lease because of something you did wrong, like serious damage.

Remember: While you might not be in the database, agents still ask for a list of references and contact details to establish your rental history. To save time and hassle for you and the agent, make you’ve got these organised these well ahead of your application.

Presentation is key 

Applying for a rental is similar to a job interview: First impressions count for everything. While your references may speak volumes about your character and reliability as a tenant, an applicant who can present themselves well at inspection is likely the one who will stand out from the crowd.

An agent is looking for a renter who will take good care of their clients’ property, and the way you present yourself can often be a good reflection of this quality.

You don’t necessarily need to turn up in a suit and tie, but a tidy appearance, polite manner and enthusiasm can signal that you are taking the process seriously. On the hand, showing up disorganised and unprepared can push you down the list.

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