Keys to the door

For families moving to Aus, keeping a roof over your heads is one of the most important relocation steps you’ll need to plan.

Mum is often asked how we organised our rental properties; how did we get a short term rental property, how long did we stay, and what did we need to secure a long term property? Here we tell our story; if you have additional tips for Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers please add your comments below.

Finding a short term rental property in Australia

We used rent-a-home to secure a two bedroom apartment (called a unit in Oz) in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. We booked the apartment for six weeks and paid $AU5,600 (around $120 per night).

Mum likes rent-a-home because you can request several quotes at a time, and it’s easy to compare properties.

Other websites that list short term rental properties include: Gumtree and Stayz.

We didn’t need any specific paperwork to secure our short term rental property. We paid a deposit when making the booking and paid the final instalment one month before arriving.

Linen was provided in the apartment we hired, and upon arrival we paid a $AU200 cash deposit to cover breakages.

When selecting this property we decided to look for something much smaller than we needed long term. We’re a family of four and our children don’t usually share a room, but to save money during our first weeks in Australia we looked at one and two bedroom apartments only. We figured we could sleep in the lounge if necessary. Six weeks in a small apartment was challenging but it went by quickly.

Searching for a long term rental property in Sydney

We don’t have experience of searching for a long term rental property in other cities or states in Australia, but would love to hear from those who do, especially if your experiences are different to those Mum shares below.

In Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs we found that good properties are hard to find. Our initial impression was that property is expensive and the quality poor. Of course, Sydney has fast become one of the most expensive cities in the world, and the Eastern Suburbs is one of the most costly areas, but we weren’t put off!

We looked at 40+ properties, by driving by outside or attending inspections, before finding the location and property for us. It didn’t help that we were looking in February, in areas close to the University of New South Wales; we frequently met students and university employees looking at properties for the academic year ahead.

Like searching for a property anywhere in the world, you have to be willing to compromise. We compromised on location and quality, we’re in a less modern property than we’d hoped, and an area we hadn’t initially considered; but are very happy.

Websites we used to start our property search are: Domain, Realestate and Homehound. Once we got to know local estate agents we used their websites.

Rental property inspection and application process

Property inspections are held on a specific date and it’s rare to arrange a private viewing through an agent before the set date. Dates are advertised online and property search websites will email you alerts when rentals that fall within your criteria are open for inspection.

Because there’s only one inspection date for properties in prime locations, making an application can be competitive. When we arrived at a town house in Kensington, Sydney there were already 20+ interested parties waiting outside. It can be difficult to get a feel for a property with so many people around.

The agent attending the property inspection usually hands out application forms. If you’re keen on a property you need to submit your application very quickly.

Documentation required to make a tenancy application

It’s common to prepare a tenancy application pack before starting to look at properties in Australia. We realised after a few weeks of looking that we needed to do this to ensure we could submit our application as quickly as possible. Our rental application pack included;

  • References from a property we rented in London
  • Contact details for the agent we rented from during the initial six weeks in Sydney (we asked him to be a referee)
  • Print outs of bank statements providing proof of savings in the UK
  • Proof that we were applying for jobs – if you’re already in work you’d provide a copy of your contract or pay slips
  • A cover letter describing our situation
  • Photocopies of personal identification

What personal identification do you require? The 100 point check

Prospective tenants need to provide several items of personal identification. Real estate agents work on a points system where key items are worth 10 – 30 points and each tenant needs to provide ID worth 100 points. Here is an example of the proofs of ID you will need and their point value: 100 point check documentation. Some real estate agents request Pay Slips and a past Rental Ledger, we couldn’t supply this and it wasn’t a problem.

Signing the lease and paying your bond

In Sydney new tenants typically sign a lease for 6 – 12 months. We signed for 12 months initially, which seemed daunting when moving to an area we didn’t know well. It is usual to pay a bond of four weeks rent at the beginning of the tenancy. In addition to this you may need to pay two weeks rent up front.

Each Australian state government ensures that standard forms and rights are adhered to when renting property. The finer details of the tenancy agreement would be too much to go into now; here’s a link to the NSW standard tenancy agreement form.

Rental properties in Australia some typical traits

Now you know what’s involved in finding a rental property in Australia, here are some typical traits you need to be aware of;

  • Long term rental properties are usually unfurnished
  • Properties generally don’t have fridges, freezers, or washing machines
  • Properties sometimes have dishwashers
  • Properties often have no heating
  • Modern properties sometimes have air conditioning, with a reverse cycle to provide heating
  • LUG means lock up garage, apartments typically have a LUG

Got the keys? Mum will talk about what you need to do next very soon, from choosing gas and electricity suppliers to getting connected with a phone and Internet line. Happy house hunting!

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