First Time Renters Guide
All you need to know when renting your first property.
So, you have decided to rent for the first time, and you have found the perfect property to suit your needs, but what happens next? We have put together a summary of what you need to know before you sign your first lease agreement!
Applying for your first rental - What do you need?
Many first-time tenants are concerned because they don’t have any rental history, that they will not be able to rent a property. Fortunately, every tenant has been a first-time renter at some point and there are a number of things you can do to strengthen your application.
A property manager will mainly be concerned with the applications ability to pay the rent, as well as their ability to maintain the property and comply with the terms and conditions of the lease.
The information you should supply will vary depending on your previous circumstances - for example, if you were previously living in student accommodation, you may wish to provide details of the person who was in charge in the complex, or your room mate as a reference.
If you previously owned a property and have sold, the agent who handled the sale may be able to provide a reference for you. Otherwise, if you are currently living with your parents, you will require 2 personal references. In some cases you may also choose to have a parent co-sign your lease with you.
Examples of the documentation you will need to provide to help a property manager process your application:
- Verification of income - eg two recent payslips if you are employed, or your recent tax return if you are self employed, if you are not employed or a student you will need to supply a Centrelink income statement, or details of your scholarship.
- Employment reference from your manager or HR department to confirm your employment.
- Two personal references (not related to you) - eg from a neighbour/teacher/professional connection/accountant/family friend.
- Photo identification - eg passport, drivers licence, student ID card.
- Identification check - eg Medicare card, credit/debit card.
- Proof of previous address - eg phone bill, rates notice, electricity bill etc.
Signing your first Tenancy Agreement - What does the agency need to give me?
The documentation required to be given to you at the time of lease sign up differs slightly from state to state, however, the following items are required in most jurisdictions:
- Information booklet relating to the renting in your state or territory.
- Copy of the signed residential tenancy agreement (in QLD Form 18a).
- Copy of the bond lodgement form (in QLD Form 2).
- Entry condition report (in QLD Form 1a) - with details on how to complete and when the report needs to be returned to the property manager, and photos either attached or sent digitally.
- Receipt for payment of 2-weeks rent paid up front at the time your application is approved on the property, plus bond payment receipt.
- Photocopy of all keys and remote controls for the property.
- Emergency contact details for trades and for the office.
- Manuals and/or instructions on property specific items included on the lease.
What is a Residential Tenancy Agreement?
A residential tenancy agreement is a legally binding written contract between you, as the tenant and the property landlord, it is also commonly known as a lease agreement. This document should be given to the tenant as soon as their application is approved and before their lease starts or they move into the property.
What goes into a Tenancy Agreement?
- The name and address of the tenant, property, and the property manager/owners details.
- The length and type of tenancy, and when the agreement starts and ends - this will either be a fixed term agreement such as 3,6,12 months, or a periodic agreement rolling month to month. Sometimes depending on the type of accommodation the owner may also consider a short-term holiday letting agreement.
- Details on how the tenant should pay the rent and how much rent is to be paid.
- Details about what the tenant and the property manager/owner can and cannot do, these are commonly known as ‘standard terms and conditions’.
- Any special terms and conditions - these should be agreed on in advance; eg that dogs are allowed on the property but must be kept outside.
- The amount of bond the tenant is required to pay. In QLD this is held by the RTA (Residential Tenancies Authority) during the time of the lease.
- Any other conditions and/or house rules.
What is Bond?
Bond is a separate payment to rent, it is money that acts as a security for the landlord in case you don’t fulfil your terms of the lease agreement.
At the end of your agreement if the property is in need of repair or additional cleaning or if items are needed to be replaced the owner/property manager may claim some of all of the bond.
As the bond is a separate payment to rent you cannot use any part of the bond as rent - so, when you move out of the property, you cannot ask the landlord/property manager to keep your bond as an advance/final payment on your rent.
What is an Entry Condition Report?
When you pay a bond, the landlord/property manager must prepare an Entry condition report on the property. This includes details on the general condition of the property as well as all the fittings and fixtures included at the property - eg curtains and appliances. It is important that you check the entry condition report and make sure it includes all existing damage or issues at the property. We suggest you take photos which are date stamped as evidence of any damages at the property before you move in and provide a copy of these to the landlord/property manager as a record of the property's original condition.
Legislation allows tenants a number of days to check the details written on the entry condition report by the landlord/property manager to confirm they agree or disagree with those details. As the entry condition report can be used as evidence if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage, or replacement of missing items either during or at the end of the tenancy agreement - make sure you go over the report in great detail, and fill it in with any additional details before you sign off on it to say you agree to the properties condition.
What is a Routine Inspection?
Your landlord/property manager will carry out periodic inspections of the property to ensure it is being well cared for and that there are not any outstanding routine repairs, or maintenance needing to be taken care of.
The inspection may include the following:
- Confirm that the property is being maintained and in a clean and tidy condition.
- Confirm the gardens are being well maintained and in a clean and tidy condition.
- There are no more than the number of people specified on the tenancy agreement living at the property.
- No pets are housed at the property, unless otherwise agreed to.
- Check on any routine repairs needed to be carried out.
- Check on any previous repairs or maintenance carried out since the previous routine inspection.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about renting your first home!
If you have any further questions or enquiries and you are living in QLD we recommend checking out the RTA (Residential Tenancies Authority) for further information and news relating to all property matters.