Be on time! Real Estate Agents are generally very busy people; holding inspections or an open house can be quite stressful and involved – as a general courtesy rule, don’t leave your agent waiting.
Presentation and Attitude. Reputable Real Estate Agents have thorough Tenant screening processes in place - it’s important that you show your agent that you’re taking the process seriously. Look presentable, be pleasant, honest, charming and desirable – Landlords are looking for people that will look after their property and pay their rent on time – it’s important to highlight all those things that make you an attractive tenant.
Have the correct documentation ready and available. The Real Estate Agent you’re liaising with should provide you with a list of documents required, including but not limited to references, completed application form, pay slips/proof of employment and photo ID. You’ll need to have copies of these ready and certified to avoid any delay with your application, including documents for your housemates and/or spouse.
Follow-up. If you haven’t heard anything back from the Agent representing a Property you’ve applied for within 2-3 days, follow-up with them. It will highlight your interest in the Property and give you the chance to offer any additional information that might get your application over the line. A pleasant message from you might just get your name to the top of the list.
Leases are legally binding contracts between yourself and the landlord that defines terms such as the agreed rental period, weekly/monthly rent amount, and what your responsibilities are. Signing the lease indicates that you agree to everything outlined in the document. Ensure you read it thoroughly; a breach of the conditions can result in the Landlord having the right to evict you, or a financial loss.
Know your rights
If you are named on the lease, you are entitled to certain rights. For example, Landlords can't breach your right to privacy by turning up to the house unannounced.
Different states in Australia may have different laws when it comes to Tenants Rights – ensure you research your state for the correct information.
A rental bond, generally the equivalent of a calendar months’ rent, is required to provide financial security for the Landlord, payable by the Tenant prior to moving into the agreed Rental Property. Essentially, the bond is designed to cover any breaches in the terms of the lease; damage to the property, rent arrears and other costs.
The bond money is held by a regulatory body (in Victoria it is deposited with Residential Tenancies Bond Authority) until the time it can be claimed, which is generally the end of the agreed tenancy period. If by the end of the lease the property is damaged, unclean beyond general wear and tear, or you have rent arrears, the Landlord is within their rights to claim reasonable costs from your bond.
Repairs and Maintenance
Tenants are responsible for keeping the Property they lease clean and undamaged, whereas Landlords, or the Property Manager, are responsible for keeping the property in a good, livable condition.
General and Emergency repairs need to be organised by your agent. If problems aren’t fixed within a reasonable amount of time, you may have the right to seek compensation, or end your tenancy without penalty.
Always ask permission
If you want to make minor changes to the property, such as painting walls, or have decided to get a pet, ensure you contact your Property Manager or Landlord; your lease should generally state what you can and cannot do without permission, and a breach of these terms could result in penalty or eviction.