Finding appropriate housing in the right area is one of the most important considerations to take into account when moving to Australia.  It isn’t an easy task – not only do you need to find a property that you and potentially your family will be comfortable, you will also have to find the right suburb in terms of demographics, commuting for work, accessibility to services and of course how it feels to you personally.

A good way to test the waters in an area is to rent for a while in several suburbs to get a feel for the positives and negatives of various areas.  The rental market in Australian capital cities and major regional areas is dynamic and competition for housing can be quite fierce. For example, it would not be unusual to see 50 or more people turn up to view a rental property in Sydney’s inner suburbs on a Saturday morning.

With this is in mind, it is good to be armed with as much information as possible about the Australian rental market and have the necessary documentation ready to land your dream pad.

Understanding Property Options

Rental properties can be advertised as apartments, flats, units, studios, townhouse or houses. Apartments Flats and Units are usually self-contained homes with at least one separate bedroom located on the same land as other similar properties. Such properties are usually governed by a set of rules to protect the rights of all occupants of the tenanted buildings. A studio is very similar to a flat or unit but has the bedroom and other areas contained within one open space. It is usually a cheaper option than a flat or apartment and can be popular with those living by themselves. Houses are generally stand-alone buildings with an outdoor space while a Townhouse is generally a property with its own entrance, slightly larger than an apartment and connected to other properties. Houses and Townhouses are generally a better fit for families.

Location, location, location

Finding the right area that you will feel comfortable in is key to settling in to your new home. Before committing to living in an area, it is best to do some on the ground research to get a real feel for how the area actually works. You can check out the local schools, shops and access to public transport while measuring likely commuting distances and gauging the atmosphere and tone of the environment. Have a chat some of your potential neighbours and get a feel for the area.

Property Inspection and making a rental application

We would recommend shortlisting a number of properties that suit your circumstances, especially if you are planning to live close to a major city. Once you have your shortlist you should arrange a property inspection by contacting the managing agent. Many agents will have an advertised time for everyone to view the property but others can be open to a private viewing. If the agent does not answer, leave a follow up message and also make the effort to contact them by email. Agents can be busy and potentially not overly motivated in the rental space.

It’s a good idea to bring all paperwork with you when inspecting the property as this may help in speeding up the application process.

You will need to be provide the managing agent with the following information

  • Proof of identity (passport, drivers licence or birth certificate is usually sufficient)
  • Proof of your income – salary slips or bank statements will suffice
  • Any previous rental agreements that you have entered into
  • Appropriate references. Your current employer, a previous landlord or someone that holds a respected position in the community are all good references.

The agent will then check your references and refer your application to the owner for final approval. If all goes well you should get some news back within a few days. Then, if approved, you will be in a position to sign the lease. Keep in mind you may have to attend multiple inspections in different properties and in different suburbs before you are approved so it certainly pays to be organised to avoid being disappointed.

When you sign your lease, you will be required to pay rent in advance. Anywhere from a fortnight to a month is usual and you will also have to pay a tenancy bond which is essentially the owners protection for any damage during your tenancy. The bond is usually between 4 and 6 weeks rent. The bond is refundable when you leave the property and it is left in the same condition as when you moved in. It is important therefore, that you complete a property inspection report before you move in, noting any damage. The managing agent will usually have some photos of any current damage and you should take your own photos if you find anything else.

Once the due diligence is completed you should be able to move into your new home within 1 – 6 weeks depending on the circumstances.

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