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Ten ways to come first in the search for a rental property

February 08, 2021

If you’re renting in Canberra, you don’t need us to tell you: it’s tough out there. Canberra has the highest rental demand of any Australian capital city, and it’s not getting easier any time soon.

The first quarter of the year is always the most competitive, with people moving to Canberra for new jobs or to start university. And with fewer people leaving than in previous years, the rental squeeze is tighter than ever.

Finding a great property to rent isn’t impossible, of course. But with this much competition, it’s important to stand out as a great tenant. We spoke to Independent Property Management's Melaia Tonga to find out how you can improve your chances of securing a new place.

Make it personal

Leasing consultants might get 10, 20 or even 30 applications for some desirable properties. To make yours memorable, help them see the person behind the form.

1. Introduce yourself to the leasing consultant

Rather than submit an early application, go to the open and make a good impression. Dress nicely, put on a smile and introduce yourself to the leasing consultant. That way, when they see your application come in, they will be able to put a face to the name.

“We love to get to know people at open homes, so feel free to say hi,” says Melaia.

If you’ve made a good impression already, it may affect how your application is received. And even if you don’t get that property, it can help you in the future.

“Leasing consultants handle multiple properties at a time, so have a chat to us about what’s coming up next,” says Melaia. “Independent handles a lot of new developments, so we know when they’re about to hit the market. If we know what you’re looking for, we can give you a heads’ up even before something is advertised.”

2. Wait until you’ve inspected the property to submit an application.

The leasing consultant can’t process applications until after the open inspection. They also don’t know if you’re serious about the property if you haven’t seen it yet. If you submit an application too early, you take the risk that it will be overlooked or get lost in the pile.

Once you’ve gone to the open and met the consultant in person, then you can submit the application. But don’t wait too long: landlords want a tenant sooner rather than later, so get your application in the same day.

Treat your rental application as seriously as a job application

In a rental market as tight as Canberra, it’s not enough to simply show up. Just like winning that dream job, you need to put some effort into the application process.

3. Make sure your application is comprehensive

Answer all the questions honestly and provide as much information as you can with regards to your employment, income and rental history.

Make sure all applications have 100 points of identification. “Before we go to the owner with our suggestions, all ID needs to be submitted and we don’t accept any applications without the necessary documentation,” says Melaia.

Acceptable forms of ID can include your:

  • Birth certificate
  • Drivers licence
  • Citizenship certificate
  • Passport
  • Medicare card
  • Utility bills


4. Write a cover letter

Just as you would do for a job, your rental application should also have a covering letter. It’s another way to help you stand out from the crowd and add a personal touch to your application.

“Application forms can be very impersonal, so the cover letter is your chance to sell yourself. Tell us who you are, what makes you a great tenant, and why you want this home in particular. Landlords want to know that you’ll love their property as much as they do.”

5. If you’re a first-time renter, get a guarantor

If you haven’t rented before, or you haven’t rented in a long while, don’t panic. “We tell our owners that first home renters are just as committed as other renters,” says Melaia. That said, it’s a good idea to put a little extra effort in. Just in case.

“One way you can show that you’re a good bet is to get a guarantor. Parents are ideal. You would add them to the application as if they’re another tenant, so that we can check their identification and financial information, but make it clear that they will be the guarantor by putting “guarantor” in brackets after their name.”

6. Pre-warn references

If the leasing consultant can’t get in touch with your references, you risk losing out. “We will try a couple of times, but our landlords want a tenant in as soon as possible and they won’t want to wait several days while we chase people down,” says Melaia.

Advise references that you are applying for properties, and ask they frequently check their emails to respond as soon as possible. The quicker references come back, the quicker your application can be processed.

Develop an efficient system

Looking for a rental property can be a bit of a slog. Get organised and develop a system to make it go more smoothly.

7. Create an account with all the main rental platforms.

That way, if you see a property that requires you to apply online via a platform, you’ll have done half the job already. Independent uses Sorted, where you can set up an account to save time applying for future properties.

8. Register online.

Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective steps you can take is registering your interest with our property management team. You can do this by booking an appointment to view one of our properties to rent on allhomes. You will receive SMS updates on open home times and applications. If you miss out on that property, our leasing consultants are then able to recommend similar properties that are available.

9. Set up alerts on property websites.

Whether you favour Allhomes, realestate.com.au or Domain, you can set an alert so you never miss a new listing. Just put your search filters in (location, number of bedrooms, price), and get a notification every time a new property comes onto the market.

10. Apply for multiple properties.

You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, in case something doesn’t work out, so apply for multiple properties to increase your chances of finding a home. “When you apply for a place, we recommend you select six other properties you have your eye on, in the order of preference,” says Melaia. If you don’t get your first choice, the leasing consultant will contact you when you’ve become successful.

If you're on the hunt for a rental property get in touch with our property management team.