What You Need to Know About Sydney's Competitive Rental Market.
When I arrived in Sydney back in 1988, I was looking for a rental apartment in Neutral Bay. Real estate agents happily drove me around, showing all the suitable vacant units they could find. Me, a foreigner, a student with no real job, no tenant record, no bank statements. It was easy. I could pretty much choose whatever I liked. Sadly, of course, those days are long gone, and now I cannot even imagine how it could have been ever like that in Sydney.
I started to see a change in the house hunting scene probably around 2004. Even mid-week inspections started to attract so many people that I would have to wait outside until there was room. I thought that was outrageous, but then things only got worse. When I put an application in, the agent advised me that I should enclose a work reference. By then I was able to provide a tenant record, but work reference for a rental property? I thought that was just over the top, but I was wrong.
The wheels have turned. Sydney is a landlord's market. Demand now exceeds supply and owners can afford to be stricter when screening applicants. Over the past decade, the rental market has gone from strong to the extreme.
Sydney's low vacancy rate
It is no wonder the rental property market is so tough, according to Real Estate Institute of NSW, Sydney’s residential vacancy rate is 2.9% (as of October 2019). It has been hovering around that figure for some years now and doesn't look like it is going to get easier anytime soon.
As a relocation agency, we assist many international clients who just landed in Sydney. Just like you, they have no tenant history in Australia. This is a common problem so don’t despair. The purpose of submitting your tenant history is to show that you are consistent and reliable in paying rent. This can be done without a tenant record.
If you have a rental history from your country, bring it with you.
You could also ask your real estate agency if they could write a letter showing how much rent you paid and for how long. If you own a property and have a mortgage payment record, that will also prove you are capable of making regular payments. We also recommend that you consider having photos of your previous home. You could submit a record of car loan repayments too if you don’t have anything else.
Did you just move to Sydney and don’t have a payslip yet?
You can instead show a work contract stating your salary. If you don’t have money in Australia, I would suggest opening a bank account before you leave home and transfer money. That way, you have a bank statement to show which will help compensate for the lack of a tenant record or pay slips.
Have your application ready to go.
If you don’t quite have all the required documents, you should seize every opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants. We recommend our clients fill in a generic online application form called 1 Form before they start house hunting. 1 Form requires more details than most agent's applications but once completed you are ready to submit it online the instant you find a place you like.
All you need is your agent’s details such as company name and email. Just let the rental agent know you will be submitting your 1 Form application online. You'll be the first in line to show interest, and you appear organised and committed.
Other ways to make a positive impression.
Let the agent and owner know that you are happy to set up a direct debit to pay your rent. You could even go as far as to offer to have this in your contract.
If you can offer more rent than what is asked, that would obviously give you an advantage over others but don’t forget that many people do that already these days. Depending on how desperately you want the place and how competitive it looks, offering to pay six months rent, up front in one payment, will put you ahead of the competition.
Be creative with your application.
Here's an example of one client we worked with at Kathryn Hall Real Estate who owned an older dog that was in poor health.
As much as it hurts to say it, pets are not desirable to many rental property owners. With this dog, the client found it hard to find a place that accepted dogs and was within her budget. We suggested to include two things in her contract; compensate any damage to the carpet and agree to not get another dog if her dog passed away.
You don’t always know what will work, but you might as well cover all your bases to improve your chances, especially if you are starting out in Sydney. With house hunting, your charms and trustworthy appearance do not count. Your chance of securing a rental in Sydney will depend on your application. Try putting yourself in the property owner’s shoes and prepare your documents properly. If you are from a non-English speaking country, don’t forget to translate anything that is not in English for the rental agent's convenience.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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