- Posted By Prince Lakshman
Planning to move out of the family home and rent your own space?
If this is your first time renting, we’ve got you covered with the deets!
You might find hunting for the right rental a fun experience, but once you stumble upon that property you’ve been searching for, things would likely to get serious from there.
For one, you will have to fight against other potential tenants for the rental and win the favour of the property’s landlord.
Here’s a first time renters’ guide to help you make the rental process a smooth one.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Preparing for your application early on is a wise move so you can submit it as soon as you find the right house, as this often spells the difference between securing a rental and missing out.
A good practice would be to have spare soft and hard copies of all the documents you need to include in the application, such as identifications, utility bills, and payslips.
These documents prove who you are, show that you have stable income, and help to show you’re capable of looking after a rental property.
In addition, references are also important in your application. This is the reason you should line them up well before inspections begin, and let them know that a property manager or a landlord may contact them once you’ve lodged an application.
Since you don’t have any rental history, it’s best if your referees are credible and relevant people. A good choice would be a boss or a colleague.
INSPECT THE PROPERTY
This might be obvious, but some first time renters only search for a house online and fail to inspect the property before signing a lease, only to find the rental property defective.
Renters should visit a property at least once to check:
- The property is not damaged
- The garden is maintained
- All current appliances, including ovens and heaters, are working
- The number of bedrooms as stated
Inspecting a rental also gives you the opportunity to get to know the agent and ask them for tips on how to put together a winning rental application, which could put you ahead of the competition.
THE RESIDENTIAL TENANCY AGREEMENT
If you succeed on getting the landlord or agent to choose you, they will get you to sign a contract known as a residential tenancy agreement or what’s more commonly known as the “lease”.
Signing the lease may feel daunting as a first time renter, but it’s necessary to have a legal agreement between you, the tenant, and your landlord.
A residential tenancy agreement should outline:
- the amount of rent and how it is to be paid
- the length and type of tenancy
- the amount of bond required
- details on what will happen if you break the lease or ask to leave before the agreement expires
- special terms related to pets and cleaning requirements
- other conditions and rules.
PAYING THE BOND
When signing the contract, you will be asked to pay a bond, which is a deposit that serves as security for the landlord or owner, in case you don’t meet the terms of your lease.
Your landlord may claim some or all of the bond for cleaning, repairs, or replacement of missing items at the end of your agreement.
Please note that the bond and rent are separate payments and often you will be asked to pay a certain amount of rent upfront as well.
A bond cannot be used to pay for rent, which means that if you decide to move out, you can’t ask the landlord to deduct your last rental payment from your bond.
In Victoria, 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.
THE CONDITION REPORT
Before you move in, the landlord or owner must prepare a condition report for you to check and sign within days of moving in. The condition report is a document that details the state of the property when you first move in. It should include the condition of the property’s walls, doors, floors, and cover existing damage or issues with any furniture or appliances.
A smart move would be to take photos before you move in to help record the property’s original condition.
The condition report is essential 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. Which means it’s very important that you and the landlord agree on the contents of the condition report before signing it.
Landlords can claim a portion of your bond if you fail to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. They must, however, account for wear and tear.