Prospective tenants need to make a good impression on the real estate agent who will decide who gets to rent the property. Here are six factors that can help or hinder your chances of getting approved.
Two-thirds of tenants in Australia rent through a real estate agent. A national shortage of private rental housing forces these tenants to impress the real estate agent to secure a property – their application needs to stand out from other applications.
An analysis of articles on leading online real estate sites www.realestate.com.au and www.domain.com.au identifies six aspects of interactions between the real estate agent and tenant that affect a tenant’s ability to secure a rental property. My research reveals the power of the agent over the tenant. Agents strongly stigmatise certain tenant characteristics during the property search.
These real estate articles typically fail to recognise the systemic issues of housing shortages in Australia. As owner-occupied housing becomes more unaffordable and public housing becomes less available, a variety of household types are competing in a high-demand private rental market.
Households have differing economic, cultural and social capital. This puts some applicants for a rental property at a disadvantage. But real estate sites present the issue of secure rental housing as an individual problem that can easily be overcome once a tenant understands how to highlight their desirable characteristics when applying for a rental property.
How do agents assess tenants?
When assessing a rental application, the two most important qualities a real estate agent looks for are a tenant’s ability to pay the rent on time and their ability and/or willingness to care for the rental property.
In addition, a tenant’s ability to impress the real estate agent matters. My research identifies six aspects of interactions between agent and tenant that affect the ability to secure a rental property:
- responsibility – positive reference/s from previous agents and/or landlords help demonstrate this
- making an impression – dress appropriately and be on time for inspections, engage with the agent and present an easy-to-read, error-free application form
- established relationships – a previously established relationship with the agent or landlord improves the tenant’s chances
- honesty – tenants are encouraged to be honest with their agent about their lifestyle
- flexibility – be flexible about lease length and the cost of rent
- creative thinking – for example, bringing cupcakes to a rental inspection.
Through these interactions, tenants can highlight their desirable characteristics while downplaying their undesirable characteristics.
Selection process reinforces disadvantage
The ability to make a good impression on the agent, however, is largely based on a variety of factors that place some tenants at a disadvantage.