How to hack the rental crisis, according to the experts.

Finding somewhere to live feels like an almost impossible task

This is thanks to Australia's rental crisis, which has left so many of us feeling exhausted, powerless and frustrated. 

Nerida Conisbee, Ray White's chief economist and one of Australia's leading property experts, told Mamamia that the rental crisis has been building for "quite some time".

In a conversation with The QuickyConisbee said that "what we saw through the pandemic was very, very strong increases in house prices... [and] we also saw very strong growth in rents. And part of it was [due] to a significant shift in population levels. So places like Queensland, for example, did attract a lot of people from down south... We also saw quite strong rental growth in places like Melbourne and Sydney.

"Now the pandemic is over, we've got additional pressure because population growth has started again [and] international migration is up again, and we also have a construction crisis, so that's starting to bite in terms of housing supply. We do have a shortage of homes, in many places."

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Considering how many people are struggling right now to lock in a safe place to call home across Australia, we turned to Jo Natoli, career property manager at The Rental Specialists based in Sydney, and Tilly Gillan, who is the head of MRE’s Property Services team and is based in Melbourne, for help. 


"It's extremely difficult and it's not easing up anytime soon," Gillian tells us of the Melbourne market. "There have been so many regulatory changes resulting in landlords putting their investment properties up for sale."

Natoli also explained to Mamamia that the same can be said for the wider region of Sydney in New South Wales. 

"I'm hearing from tenants that they're searching for weeks (and in some cases even months), to find something suitable," she said. "It's certainly causing some stress right now."

Here are Gillan and Natoli's top tips for hacking the rental crisis.

Apply quickly.

If you love a property, apply straight away, says Gillian.

"Speed of application is important, if you love a property – apply straight away. If you inspect on a Saturday, the agent won't review it until Monday but remember you need to allow time for your references to complete their bits too. 

"It's worthwhile warning your references when you apply so they can jump straight onto this."

Natoli adds that with some properties, you can even apply as soon as you see them online. 

"If you can, apply for properties as soon as you see them online and see that they may be a potential match for your needs, and then arrange to view the property as soon as possible," the property expert tells us. "It's easier for you to reject an offer from the property manager if you have found something else instead of being one of several applications after you and everyone else have already seen the property and sweating on the outcome."


Pick up your phone.

"It's a simple one but I can't say it enough," Gillan stresses. "There are going to be things we need to chat to you about. If we call, please answer.

"Sometimes we have had to move on from a really great applicant because we couldn't get a hold of them to finalise their application."

Play the part when viewing a property.

It's not always fun to do, but if you want to be at the top of the list for renting a property, it wouldn't hurt to try and impress the leasing agent. 

Natoli and Gillan agree. 

"Make sure you present yourself well," Gillan says. "And whilst you're there, introduce yourself to the agent and let them know you intend to apply. That way, we know to look out for your application."

Natoli suggests taking it one step further and asking if you can request private inspections with the property manager. They might say no, but it doesn't hurt to ask. 

"Try not to go to the open homes," she says. "Instead, try to arrange private inspections with the property manager. Spend time in the property and engage with the property manager about you, your situation, what the owner of the property is looking for and how the property would suit you. 

"Do your best to establish a rapport with the agent who is showing you the property because the agent will talk to the owners about your application.

"Please don't underestimate the value of these interactions."


Complete the form.

This might seem like a silly one, but Natoli and Gillan say people often forget to fully fill out their rental applications, bringing their chances of getting a property down to a big fat zero. 

"A big one we often see is incomplete forms," Gillan explains. "If we have 500 applicants to review on a Monday, the incomplete ones will go to the bottom of the pile."

"We can't take incomplete applications to the landlord and the truth is, we may not have time to call you to fill in the gaps," she adds. 

Also remember to give your references a heads-up that they might be expecting a phone call from a property manager or leasing agent, just so they're not caught off guard.

Don't be afraid to be honest. 

You don't have to be a perfect tenant or have a perfect rental history (or even a rental history at all) to land a leasing contract in your inbox. 

"We understand you might not have answers for everything. Where there are gaps, just shoot us an email explaining," Gillan says. "For example, maybe you haven't rented before and you can provide written references around your reliability.

"At the end of the day, what we need to know is that you can pay on time, you're reliable and you’ll look after the property."

Don't offer above the asking price. 

This one's a weird one, but Natoli says offering more rent than advertised mostly just raises questions with leasing agents. 

"Believe it or not, a lot of property managers see this as a major red flag," the housing expert said. "When property managers see an offer above asking price they wonder what is hiding in the application that they can’t immediately see."


Let the leasing agent know a bit more about you.

The process of sorting through rental applications is monotonous at the best of times. 

Make it a little more interesting by adding some information about yourself, so the property manager might get an idea of the person they are renting to. 

"Don’t be afraid to add a little of a blurb about you and the other applicants as part of your application form," Natoli says. "That way they’ll see you as people and not just letters and numbers bouncing off a piece of paper."

If you can get a reference for your pets, do it.

For some landlords, a pet on a rental application is an instant 'no'. But others might just need a nudge in the right direction. 

This comes in the form of backing from another landlord. 

"If you have pets, include photos of them on the application and if you're renting already, ask your current landlord or property manager to provide you with a written reference about how great the pet has been in the property," Natoli says. 

"For example, if your pet hasn't damaged anything or hasn't caused bad odour, include this information.

So what have we learned?

The value of honesty, diligence and providing our leasing agent with all the information necessary (and even unnecessary) when applying for a home. 

It's a tough market out there guys, so it is crucial to do everything you can to secure a safe, warm place to call home ahead of the chilly months.

Good luck! 

Feature Image: Getty. 

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