How to find the right rental property

Living Well | Sarah Marinos | Posted on 29 July 2019

If you’re moving into the rental market, how do you find the perfect property?

In recent months the number of vacant properties for rent in inner Melbourne has dwindled, with the Real Estate Institute of Victoria putting the vacancy rate at around two per cent. In regional Victoria the competition is even tougher, with vacancy rates sitting at 1.3 per cent. If you’re looking for a place to rent and call home, how do you beat the competition and find a house or apartment that’s right for you?

Couple inspecting a house
  • One of the first things to consider is location, says Leah Calnan, senior vice president of the REIV. “If you have school-aged children you might want to be close to a particular primary school or within a private school zone. Also think about location in relation to work and transport – do you have to get to and from school or work via public transport?” 

  • “Familiarity is also important, particularly when people move out of home for the first time. It can be easier not to move too many suburbs from home so you can use the same shops, doctor and dentist for example,” says Leah.

  • The days of picking up a rental list from agents is long gone. Instead, go online to real-estate portals and set up your search criteria. “When an agent uploads a property that suits your criteria, you get an alert,” says Leah.
  • When you go to an inspection, take a tape measure to measure up the fridge space and room sizes. Will your furniture fit? You can also check if NBN is available and ask about parking permits if the property is in a permit zone. New properties may have car stackers. Leah says that not all cars fit stackers and you will need an induction to learn how to use one.
  • If the property isn’t spotlessly clean, ask if additional cleaning will be done. Also check if the owner is undertaking any repairs to the property.
  • If you see a property you like, apply for it. “Sometimes I run an open for inspection and might get several groups of people through, but nobody applies,” says Leah. “Often, people assume everyone else is going to apply and they won’t get it. If you are interested in a property you have nothing to lose by applying.”
  • Follow up with a phone call. The day after the open for inspection, ring the property manager or agent and check that they’ve received your application, and ask if there are any other applications. Make it clear that you’re interested in renting the property.
  • Complete all details on the application. Most agents use an electronic application form that will ask for your date of birth, driver’s licence number, current and previous address and current and previous employment details. You’ll need to provide copies of pay slips and bank statements to show you can afford to live in the property. “Don’t provide your employer’s mobile number. We want to ring a landline to make sure they’re legitimate,” advises Leah. 
  • If you have a pet, send a picture of your pooch or kitty with your application so the agent and landlord can see how cute and harmless they are.
  • As soon as you move into your new home, make sure you take out a Renter's Insurance policy so that your belongings are covered in the event of a break in or weather event. Don't assume your possessions will be covered under the Landlord's insurance.