Top tips for new renters: Eight things to know before you apply
Getting your first rental is a rite of passage into the big wide world. You’ll have lots of fun times nesting in your own space. But there’s a lot to learn to make it a great experience.
1. Be prepared to wear out your shoe leather.
You may need to sign up with several local rental agencies and keep a hawk eye out online until you find the one – and get accepted. Before signing the tenancy agreement ask yourself: is it in good condition? Will it be cold in the winter? Is it secure? Tip: Find out if you are expected to mow that football field-sized lawn out the back? Can you park off road? How far is the bus stop/supermarket/pub?
2. You need squillions of $$$$ up front.
If you’re living on the bones of your credit card limit, it can be difficult to get the money together for your first rental. You’ll usually need to pay up front for up to six weeks’ rent in advance as bond, PLUS the first two weeks accommodation, PLUS two weeks rent as a letting fee if you go through a real estate agency. Tip: If you’re really lucky, your landlord may let you pay some of this off over time. In some cases you may have to borrow the money to get your foot in the door.
3. You’ll need to sell yourself.
Sometimes hundreds of people attend viewings. Get yourself to the front of that queue by looking clean, tidy and professional; that means having all the necessary detail in the application and having a good attitude (which includes, for example not letting kids run amok). Tip: Make sure your car is spotless inside and out. Landlords and agents often take a peek to avoid letting to messy people.
4. You pets can cause you trouble.
Many more rentals are available to people without pets. We know that Charlie’s the best behaved dog ever. But for some landlords, all they can see is damage caused by pets. Pets in rental properties can destroy curtains, urinate on or rip up the carpet, scratch doors and walls and so on. In some states, landlords can charge a ‘pet bond’ – check out your rights if this is the case for you.
5. You need to keep your credit record clean.
Landlords often want to check potential tenants’ credit records. Guess what? If you’ve done a runner from rent or bills in the past the chances are you won’t get a look-in on the perfect house you’ve just found. Check your credit file to see if there are any blemishes (you can check your credit score right here with Credit Simple). Pay off outstanding debt to clean up your record. Tip: You might need a guarantor if your credit record is a little blemished.
Finally, happy house hunting.