Experts in the Media

Ashleigh Goodchild – WA Today

Property Investor Expert | Real estate trainer

Perth insider spills: Why you can’t get a rental (and what to try now)

The rental market is brutal right now. Not enough supply, too much demand and outrageous cost of living pressures means that competition is fierce and securing a rental is tougher than ever.

As a property manager, I see numerous applications, so I have some insight into why some applications are processed quickly and why other people struggle.

From my perspective, these are the five things that might be holding you back. I’ve also included some tips that could just help get your application noticed.

Your references are taking too long to respond

Before you put someone forward as a personal or work reference on an application, make sure that you’ve had a discussion with them, not only to ask permission, but also so they know responding is a priority. If applications remain incomplete for 24 hours or more, they’re less likely to be shortlisted for a landlord’s approval.

This is a big one, and it’s often where applications fall down. We’re receiving a high volume of applications per day for each rental, so it’s vital to make sure you’re references are up to date and reliable. The applications that are processed and completed the quickest will be put through to the owner first.

You have poor rental references

If you have a poor rental reference in your past, be upfront and talk to the property manager about it. We’re people too, and we understand that in the past you may have lost a job, had an accident or faced some personal challenges that didn’t make you an ideal tenant at the time. It’s always best to be honest, rather than us finding out something about you after you’ve submitted an application.

I’ve just helped a tenant find a place, who was upfront and honest about the fact she’d not been an ideal tenant in the past, due to an accident that meant she was out of work for a time. Because of her honesty I was able to speak on her behalf to a landlord I knew would understand, and now she has a new rental and fresh start.

You’re applying for properties you can’t afford

When you’re looking at rentals, be honest with yourself. As a general rule, try to make sure they don’t exceed 35 per cent of your household income. Property managers want you to be able to pay your rent comfortably. Sit down and budget before you look at rentals, so you know what’s in your price bracket and what’s not.

It’s crucial in the current market to have a “it’s not forever, it’s just for now” mindset.

I’ve seen this time and time again … if you’re pitching too high in the rental market over and above what you can afford, you will constantly be overlooked because landlords and property managers need to have some peace of mind that you can pay your rent and that they won’t have to chase you constantly.

You’re not being flexible with location and size

If you’re struggling to find a rental in the suburb you’d like to live in, it might be time to widen your search area. Make sure you look at suburbs close by, and on different styles of houses including apartments and townhouses. Don’t be afraid to look at different areas or sizes of homes that might not be your preferred option, but could be a good temporary solution for you and your family.

I had a successful tenant recently who couldn’t find what she was looking for in terms of bedrooms for her three children. So she thought outside the square, and instead looked for a property with two living areas, so she could convert one of those into another bedroom. It’s crucial in the current market to have a “it’s not forever, it’s just for now” mindset.

No cover letter with your application

While a cover letter might seem like an outdated notion, it’s an important part of your application. A good cover letter helps property managers tell your story to the owners, and put your best foot forward in the application process. It helps us if we understand your family dynamic, who will be living at the property, what you do for work and what you enjoy in your social time, so we can create a picture for the owners of who might be living in their house or apartment.

This might seem like an old-school thing to do. But the adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” exists for a reason. An application with a cover letter that explains a bit about you will land at the top of the preferred tenant pile every single time. Including a photo is always a bonus.

If you can tick off these five things, I believe you’ll be well on your way to being a successful applicant and securing a great rental to live in.