13 Renting Tips

1. Winning a Rental Application

If you show up to a rental inspection with fifty other people, you can't afford to be cavalier about your application. If an agent is trying to choose between you and another application and they have their bond, first month's rent and a list of perfect references you need to match them and top them.

Here are some things to consider when submitting a rental application.

  1. Have all documents ready
  2. Be on time
  3. Look good and behave well
  4. Follow up

Make sure that the application is fully completed, references are included, your 100 points of identification is there and anything else that's been requested.

One of the best predictors of human behavior is past conduct. If you want to impress the owner and beat the other applicants you need to be at your best.

If you've submitted an application but haven't heard back yet, a cheerful follow up call may help. They may well be trying to decide between your application and another candidate and if they receive a pleasant message from you, it might just put you at the top of their list.

2. What is a Bond?

A bond acts as security for the landlord or owner in case you don't meet the terms of your lease agreement.

Your landlord or owner may claim some, or all of the bond for cleaning, repairs, or replacement of missing items at the end of your agreement.

The bond and rent are separate payments. You cannot use any part of the bond as rent so, when you are moving out, you cannot ask the landlord to keep your bond as final rent payment.

In Queensland, the bond is paid to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) where it is held in trust until the end of your residential tenancy agreement.

3. Entry / Exit Reports

When you pay a bond, a condition report must be used, noting the general condition of the property, including fittings and fixtures. To avoid bias the tenants are usually asked to fill out the report on entry and the landlord or agent fills it out on exit.

You should check that the report covers any existing damage or other issues with the property. Take photos before you move in to help record its original condition.

The condition report is important because it can be used as evidence if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage or replacement of missing items at the end of the agreement.

You and the landlord should agree on the contents of the condition report before signing it.

4. Wow Thats Cheap!

The law of supply and demand, when applied to rental properties, dictates that a property will only ever achieve a rent that its worth.

On occasion you might find a genuine cheapie, but in most cases, there will be a reason why its so cheap.

  • Close to busy road
  • Noisy tavern nearby
  • Drainage problems from theblock above
  • Difficult to keep cool insummer

Before committing yourself to the expense of moving check out all possible outcomes to ensure your long term happiness in the residence.

5. Renting Direct

Once you accept the keys to the property you are liable for the condition of that property. So never move into a rental without first doing an Entry Condition Report and signing a lease.

Sometimes private rentals (not using a rental agent) prefer to keep things informal and not use a lease agreement. This is a danger sign. Leases protect both parties.

Cash can be hard to trace. If a landlord insists on cash payment then you must insist on receipts on the spot. Clear records are essential in the worst case that a dispute occurred.

6. Maintenance

It is the landlords obligation to keep the repair of a rental property in a safe and livable state. Many times though this leaves a lot of grey area.

When inspecting a property prior to leasing it, if you see bodgy repair jobs, notice the clues.

Some landlords simply can't afford the cost of doing repairs so they ignore it until its too late. Other times they use low quality handymen that do less than satisfactory work. If this has been the case in the past it may happen again during the time you're living there.

Smoke alarms are an exception. Legislation states that both landlord and tenant are responsible to keep these functioning well. The landlord must have them checked prior to a lease starting but this doesn't let the tenant off the hook. If it requires a new battery during the lease period the tenant must replace it.

7. Know the Steps

The process of finding, applying for, being accepted and moving into a new rental is much easier when there is clear understanding of the steps involved.

  • Inspect the property
  • Complete an application
  • Sign the lease
  • Pay the bond & rent
  • Complete an Entry Condition Report
  • Connect the utilities
  • Move in

8. Routine Inspections

>Many tenants experience unnecessary worry and stress around having the agent arrive for a routine inspection. These inspections are not designed with the intent to berate you and kick you out of the house. Landlords just want to know that their expensive asset is being cared for and not abused.

Some ways to ensure the home passes with flying colours would be to start preparing early, you will feel more confident when the home is tidy and clean. Have a list ready for the agent of any concerns or repairs needed. Scrub the corners of the shower screen, give all the windows a good clean, spot clean the carpets and maintain the garden. Do any minor repairs, things like dings in the wall, carpet stains or blown light bulbs. Don't forget the garden. Landscaping is a huge investment cost on behalf of the owner and landlords really appreciate it when its cared for well.

9. Renting With Pets

The very first rule is, ask first. Tenants who ask and are prepared to make an extra effort are more likely to be accepted.

Create a pet report. A document that gives reassurance to the owner about the intended pet. It might include things such as the pet's age, temperament, the fact that they're up to date with vaccinations, that they're microchipped, desexed, and so on. You may also want to include character references for your pet from a previous property manager, vet or anyone who can credibly speak to your pets behaviour and be contacted to confirm.

Landlords have obvious concern around the damage a pet may cause and extra pet bonds are not allowed in Queensland. Consider offering more rent. Tenants who are prepared to offer more rent demonstrate their commitment and the importance of the pet to them.

10. Home Improvements

As a renter, your options sometimes seem limited when it comes to renovating. And that can be frustrating. 

Many renters are in long-term rental properties, or at least have plans to stay in the same place for a long time. As a result, making some basic renovations and changes at home can be a high priority: and why shouldn't it be? It's not just property owners who like to have beautiful interiors and a spruced up garden.

Contact your agent. A standard tenancy agreement usually prevents any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises without the landlord's written consent.

Consider some simple options. Hiding cracks? Consider artwork and plants. Removable, self-adhesive hooks are now readily available and can hold various weights. Don't underestimate interior decorating. If your living or bedroom needs a little colour, don't underestimate the effect of some colourful bedding and new curtains. Consider some interior tips from home stagers -  these tips aren't just for people who are selling their property.

Remember, if you remove it, you have to put it back when the lease is finished. This means storing anything you remove and keeping it in one piece.

11. Blacklisted?!

Tenancy databases are privately owned lists that contain certain people's rental history.  If you're on the list, in most cases it means an agent or landlord has reported that you haven't complied with the terms of a lease.

Tenancy databases are used by agents to screen prospective tenants and make sure tenants are reliable and respectful of the rental property. If you've never breached your rental contract, or done anything deemed as wrong in regards to your rental property and agreement, there's little chance you'll be listed.

Three easy ways to get blacklisted would be not paying rent, property damage and leaving your bond to cover outstanding rent.

The best way for a tenant to avoid a listing is really quite simple, stick with the terms and conditions of your lease.

12. Scams

Scams come in all types, and one that frequently rears its head is the rental scam.

Rental scams are a type of 'advance fee fraud', in which a scammer promises a financial reward or some other benefit, in this case a rental property, but first asks a consumer to make an up-front payment.

There are frequent stories telling of how scammers dupe renters out of thousands of dollars by placing ads for rental properties online, pretending to be the property manager.

The fake agent gets prospective tenants to sign a lease agreement and takes their money, then disappears.

Only pay in advance to a registered real estate agent.

Data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows Australians lost more than $93 million to scams in 2012. Around $30 million was related to advance free fraud, by far the most common scams category.

13. I've Been Burgled!!!

If you've ever been unlucky enough to have your house broken into you'll know it can be a stressful event. Fortunately, knowing what to do ahead of time can make it easier to respond.

Just follow this simple checklist and you'll be prepared and ready for action:

Call the police

See to urgent repairs

Check the house

Gather information

Contact your insurance company

Stay safe and secure

Personal safety is a must, so never enter a house that you think has been broken into without someone else with you. Just call the police first.

Call your landlord or agent and let them know what's happened.

Once the safety of all people has been assured check for missing spare keys to cars and houses. Also check for computer passwords and bank information.

Remember that you can only insure what you own. So you must insure your own contents. The landlord must insure the property.

Security alarms are useful, so are big barking dogs. Keep valuable items hidden and use password management systems.

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