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The Competitive Rental Market

Whether you’re looking for a neat inner-metro apartment or a spacious family home with a good backyard, Melbourne’s rental market is one of the most competitive in the country. So it’s not surprising that rental opens can be a daunting affair, with a horde of prospective tenants all hoping to be the lucky candidate. It’s no wonder many people find the process as nerve-wracking as a job interview – but it’s a good comparison to make and in fact, by approaching rental applications like a job interview, you invariably stand a better chance of securing the home you want.

So, how do you get to the top of the list?

1. Put yourself in the landlord or property manager’s shoes

The two fundamentals that any landlord wants in a tenant are:
a) An ability to pay the rent in full and on time
b) An appreciation for the property and a willingness to look after it and be a good neighbour

The more you can do to show these two attributes, the better your chances. Throughout the whole process think to yourself, “If I was a landlord, what type of person would I want in my valuable property?”

2. Make an effort at inspections

All the best property managers pride themselves on the rapport they have with their tenants. You can start that good relationship by engaging with the property manager at the open inspection. Introduce yourself, have a chat with them, ask relevant questions and establish a friendly connection.

A neat and tidy appearance and responsive demeanour can send out positive subliminal first impressions about you that can work in your favour.

3. Fill out your application promptly, accurately and completely

These days, many rental applications are completed via online forms, some of which can’t be submitted unless all fields have been completed. But even then it’s possible to overlook or forget vital information.

Whether you’re filling in an electronic form or a paper copy, make sure you provide as much relevant information as possible. Explain why you’re looking for a new place to rent, what sort of person you are, and provide any positive feedback from previous rental managers or landlords. The better the picture you can provide, the better your chances of success.

4. Prove your financial capabilities

It’s well recognised that if you can show you’ve been consistently employed for the last two years or more, the more likely it is you’ll move up the list. But you also need to show that you can afford the place: i.e. no more than about a third of your income. If you’re self-employed, a letter from your accountant or a recent tax statement showing your annual income will give rental managers confidence in your paying ability, while if you’re unemployed, explain why you’re not working, include bank statements showing appropriate savings and provide evidence of your work potential such as your qualifications and references.

5. Be clear and upfront

If you have pets, you’re a smoker or you’ve had a bad experience with your previous tenancy, be honest and explain these things up front. Honesty and openness are highly rated by property managers. Pet owners should be ready to prove that their pet is quiet, well behaved and house-trained (or happy living outside). A good way to do this is to provide vet reports, puppy-training certificates and/or references from previous landlords/managers.

6. Watch what you put on social media

In order to get a clearer picture of a prospective tenant, it’s not uncommon for property managers to check an applicant’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts. These will often trip up secretive pet-owners, frequent party-animals and those who’ve been flexible with the truth on their applications – especially with regards to employment or previous tenancies.


Develop a good rapport and reputation with your current agent or landlord. A glowing reference from your existing tenancy is one of the most valuable tools you can have in any future rental applications.