In some areas, the price of rent and competition for rental properties is fierce. When I left my abusive marriage and needed to get a place to rent, it was difficult.
Numerous people turned up each time, I was relying mainly on the single parent’s pension from Centrelink, along with some self-employment income, child support was nonexistent, basically, my finances looked terrible.
Add to that no rental history because I had been a homeowner (and at another time, homeless), I was a pretty poor applicant on paper when going up against families, or double income no kids couples.
I have one trick that has landed me a house to rent, every time and many agents have commented on it. In fact, when I was moving from Sydney to Canberra, I drove down on the day, inspected the house, gave the agent my file and beat numerous other applicants for a property in an area with a less than 1% vacancy rate.
Here’s what I do and numerous people have told me it worked for them too.
Before I go to a rental, I check the listing and prep my application on 1Form. Previously, I used to call the agent and ask a few questions. In the current market with so many applying, they do not want that.
When I go to the inspection I make sure to make the agent laugh or connect in some way to make them remember me. It helps a lot.
Have Your Application Ready
I have the application filled out, I leave the lease term blank and discuss it with the agent. Some owners like 6 months, others 12. If you are willing to be flexible it is more appealing to both agents and landlords.
Letter To The Landlord
In my last 3 applications, I included a letter to the landlord. In the first paragraph, I state how I would like to rent their house, how I understand as a landlord they want someone who will take good care of the property and how I will be that someone.
In the next paragraph, I outline the features of the home that make it suitable for my family and specifics of why I want to rent it.
Next, I will talk about why I am a good tenant. I am clear that I am a single mum of 2 kids, but I also work from home, I don’t smoke, I don’t have pets, I don’t drink or throw big parties etc.
The next paragraph is where I outline my income, although it looked small on paper I manage my money well and have other sources of income (which I outlined). I discuss how I keep my bills below average and how I source things for free. (I include copies of my bills to back this up, which I will discuss in a minute.)
My closing paragraph recaps why I love their property and how I will look after it.
Create A File
Use 1Form to have this online and ready to go as that is what most agents use. If for some reason they are not using it, keep all of this in a folder.
– The filled in application
– Letter to the landlord
– ID: For 1Form I just used a photo of each id. When they required printed applications, I had that ready to go at the inspection.
– Electricity and gas bills: These are included to prove identification and because mine are lower than average it makes my overall financial situation look better.
My water bills for 5 people living in a home were lower than the average one person household, the same for my electricity. This shows I am frugal and my expenses aren’t as high as others.
– All income documents: I included child support documentation even when I didn’t get it, carers allowance for my kids (when I left my ex they had severe expressive and receptive learning disorders requiring extensive help. This meant I was entitled to carers allowance for both of them), my self-employed income (I include my tax certificate to prove income plus a recent bank statement to show how much and where money comes from as that is higher than my tax shows due to deductions.) A statement or letter for each income source is included.
– A letter outlining income: I do this because I am self-employed and I receive income from my royalties, public speaking, financial mentoring, blog advertising and more. I list the various incomes, how much I get for each and how often on average. If I worked for a wage I wouldn’t bother about doing this letter.
I put all of these papers together in a folder and label it – Kylie Travers xx address (whatever the address of the property is). When using 1form, I have all of those documents preloaded.
With this in hand, when I go to apply it’s easy. I look at the house and leave my application with the agent on the day or I can submit my 1form application on the spot. It’s easy for them because everything is ready to go and in order. Time is money – this saves them time and it means they just hand a file to the landlord as well, making it easier on everyone.
Most agents tell me they have never seen anyone so organized and prepared with their application which made my application strong already. With the application for the Canberra home the agent even gave me his card in case I wanted to look at the property again over the weekend.
He also said I should know Monday, but that file made my application very strong. And if the managing agent didn’t ring me Monday (he was not managing that property, but doing a favour for another agent), then to call him.
One final thing – when I look at rental properties I dress in business attire. Looking like a professional makes me stand out. I know at each open home I have been to I have been the only one dressed this way and the agents tend to talk to me for longer. The agents are the ones who recommend you to the landlord so building a rapport, looking professional and being friendly really helps.