Following on from my last article, ‘Applying for a rental became a full-time job application – what I wish I had known‘, I decided to pull out the guide itself for a comprehensive, concise checklist to empower renters to sell themselves in the best light and tell their story.
We are facing a national rental crisis and cost-of-living emergency which we have never seen, and we are at crisis.
My family was also drowning and fearing homelessness and worrying about having to compromise on basic human rights to support our child with various allied health needs.
There is a myriad of factors which have contributed to this current state of the economy, but nothing takes away from the urgent need for housing our people and the inability to fill these gaps.
Families of all income streams, backgrounds and social groups are feeling the pinch and we have been sitting back watching our expenses grow, while our salary remains the same. We are in a dangerous level of acceptance and compliance that seemingly has no answer.
Simultaneously, we are tenants that have lost our voice and wouldn’t dare advocate for our rights out of fear of ‘no grounds evictions’ at the end of the tenancy.
For many, it is a matter of choosing the least of the hard choices, and making it work as best as they can.
This is not living, and this should not be considered normal. You are not alone in this, and you are being listened to.
What can I share with you?
I have gathered together my insights that will hopefully be instructive and assist you with your rental applications. They have really made a difference for our family, despite spending more than one month trying to secure a new rental and having various applications turned down along the way. I know the process would have been that much more exhaustive and prolonged if I hadn’t put in the effort I did, so I hope this helps. Please see my latest article for more information, but this is your condensed guide which you can read below.
Your rental application checklist:
1. Register with the online realty platforms www.realestate.com and www.domain.com for rental alerts to your email within your price point and in the chosen areas, with surrounding suburbs included.
2. Begin to build a profile on http://www.realestate.com and on the 2Apply tenancy platform as this is what many agents use to filter candidates and applications. This needs to be created by every person who will be applying for the lease, not including children.
3. Visit the websites several times a day with your search terms defined and change the view to ‘most recent’ for the listings so you don’t miss new properties being listed.
4. Find out what real estates are operational in your area and visit their website page listings directly to look at the list of rental properties and familiarise yourself with the agent’s names and faces if provided.
5. Ensure you have references that are ready to be contacted and include personal references x2 who know you well and have frequently visited your home, employment references from the past 3+ years and also rental references from 5+ years. Reach out to them to ensure they are happy to be contacted and note their correct name spelling, email address and mobile phone number. Remind them they will most likely receive a series of requests to vouch for you and time is most certainly of the essence.
6. Prepare all necessary documentation for your application including:
*All rental history with dates of lease, amounts paid, agents, etc…
*Bank statements with your account balance and savings history
*Request a rental ledger from your current real estate to show regular payments that have occurred over a period of time
*Water bill/gas etc or something with your address listed
*Scanned in copies of all ID for people applying including driver’s license, visa information, passport, Medicare card, birth certificate etc…
*Proof of current employment and contract
*Previous employment history and dates of contracts, and
*Photos of you, your family, pets, your home (to show how you live).
7. Register for the home opens and accept the reminder notifications to ensure the agent is expecting you and list anybody who may be attending as they are taking notes of all arrivals at the homes and checking names off the list. You will also be sent correspondence to apply through your mobile number and email, so make sure this is included.
8. When you know what home opens you are attending, find the listing agent so you can greet them by name as you arrive. Arrive early and be prompt, with professional and/or neat attire. First impressions are very important and the agent will give feedback on which person and applicant stood out. They are your direct line to the owner and their recommendations go a long way!
9. View the property in a respectful way, taking notes if necessary and measure areas to check suitability of couch and furniture capacity and fridge and washer recesses. I visited so many home opens and it was easy to lose track of which house had what feature. I created individual albums of the homes with photos and individual notes on measurements and observations I noticed about whether there was central AC, parking access, the garden maintenance needed, whether there were walk-in-robes or the size of spaces.
10. Wait politely to speak to the agent again and introduce yourself and your family, making the opportunity to ask questions about the application process, stating you are interested and like the property for these reasons…
11. Once returning home, promptly complete the application within the next few hours if possible and make sure each item is filled out meticulously, taking time to personalise sections that are relevant to that specific property. Make sure your application is 100% finished, as incomplete applications will most likely go to the bottom of the pile.
12. Have the person you are applying with ready as well, as your application will send them an email, linking them to your account, and all parties must submit their application to be considered by the agent.
13. Once completed, follow up with an email to the agent to say you have completed the application, are interested in the property and remind them who you are. I would often send a photo and the rental application letter in the email as well, as a back-up.
Now, most importantly, you need to tell your story. Who are you, what are your values and morals, how do you live, what are your hobbies, what pets do you have, what are they like, talk about your children and who they are, why is this community important to you, why do you wish to stay in the area, what is your rental history, what do you like about the area, what do you do for work etc…
Play to your strengths, sell your values and be honest about your situation and why you will be the best candidate and deserve a fair chance to make this house your home.
I know it is hard, I know it seems hopeless and I know with each application you are unsuccessful with, the pain stings a little deeper, but hold on to hope. You will find a place to live, and it will be okay.
Words by Jacqui O’Leary
If you are a tenant or someone you know needs help with their current situation, please contact:
- Dept. Consumer Protection — evictions and tenancy advice 1300 304 054
- Circle Green Community Legal — for all tenancy advice (08) 6148 3636
- WAConnect.org.au – for emergency relief near you
- Financial Counsellors of WA – https://financialcounsellors.org
- National Debt helpline 1800 007 007