How to prepare a stand-out Rental Application

Preparing a Rental Application that stands out from the competition

You’ve found a property perfect for your needs, visited the open home and all you need to do now is submit your Rental Application. With Canberra’s rental market being so competitive though, there’s a good chance you’ll be up against many other potential tenants – especially homes that are in high demand or in sought-after suburbs.

But hey, nothing healthier than a little bit of competition, right?

Before you dry that drool of desire from your keyboard and mentally prepare yourself for the bureaucratic boxing match that accompanies the laborious task of filling in forms for that coveted property though, you must first understand what exactly your potential Property Manager may be looking for.

What does a Property Manager look for in a Rental Application?

So what exactly does a Property Manager, and landlord, desire? Below we’ll break down the 3 main questions running through their mind as they scour their pile of applications to find the best tenant for the home.

Will they be able to afford the rent?

Many Financial Planners swear by the 50/30/20 rule. They say that 50% should be spent on needs, that is your rent, utilities, car payments, fuel, groceries and any necessary insurance. 30% should be spent on “wants” such as holidays, hobbies, entertainment and socializing. That final 20% can be tucked away into a savings account for a rainy day.

When dissecting applications, a good Property Manager will look at your monthly income and determine whether this will be sufficient to cover the rent without financial stress and hardship.

Do they have a track record of paying their rent and bills on time?

If a prospective tenant has a solid track record of paying their rent and bills on time, it’s a great indication that they’ll be a reliable lessee. This gives the landlord peace of mind that they’ll have regular income coming in which is particularly important for covering mortgage repayments as well council rates, land tax and insurances.

It’s worth keeping in mind that most agencies will conduct credit checks on property candidates, and when verifying your previous rental references will probably ask for a copy of your ledger. Asking your old Property Manager’s and/or landlords for a copy of this ledger and attaching it to your application is also a great way to get your application to shine through.

What kind of condition will they leave the property in after they move out?

Finance is a key concern, however it’s not the only thing a landlord will consider when leasing their property. Having a tenant who is good around the house and is prepared to keep the home in good order or make additions to the property (with permission of course!) is also highly desirable. If you made improvements to your last rental property such as tidying up the gardens or giving the home a new coat of paint, make sure you list this on your application.


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Tips for getting your Rental Application to the top of the pile

We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips which will help you land that perfect rental property. From the initial inspection through to the paperwork you submit, following these handy hints will greatly improve your odds for securing your next home.

Dress to impress

It’s the age-old cliché, but you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Our brains are constantly processing huge amounts of information, which is why we tend to make quick judgements based on what we can see. Rocking up to the Open Home wearing a t-shirt covered in sauce stains may put you at a disadvantage from the beginning and might cause the Property Manager to assume you will be a messy tenant or won’t care for the property.

When visiting a property for the first time, make sure you are looking tidy and presentable. This doesn’t mean you need to dress the same way you would for a job interview, but smart casual attire is highly recommended.

Properly introduce yourself

A friendly smile and a warm handshake is a great way to create a memorable impression. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it can be to forget this step. Not only will it help the person scouring over applications put a name to a face, but it also creates an atmosphere of trust and sets the relationship up on the right footing.

Being memorable can help your application stand out. Whilst many rental property open homes can be quite crowded and busy, if an opportunity to introduce yourself arises, be sure to take it. Make sure you read the room though, and don’t force it if it doesn’t feel right. If the Property Manager or Landlord has a large number of people to show through, or is in the middle of talking to somebody else, it could come off as rude or pushy.

Apply electronically if possible

Not only do electronic applications get to the Property Manager first, but they’re usually a lot easier to read through and save everyone the headache of double data-entry. This goes both ways too; with modern platforms such as 1Form and Snug, you can create your account and profile once and use this to apply for several properties without having to re-enter your information.

Many of these platforms also have ways of verifying your identity and documents, which can add credibility to your application from the get-go.

Ensure contact details are up to date

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many applicants leave outdated phone numbers and email addresses on their applications. Spend a few extra moments reading through your submission to ensure that not only are your own details up to date, but also your previous Property Managers/Landlords details as well as those of your references.

Incorrect details cause confusion and may even create the perception that you are unorganized, or even worse, not being truthful with your references. Also, if you’re unable to take mobile calls whilst at work for any reason, try to provide an alternative contact number as they may need to contact you to clarify or discuss your application – which most of the time is done during business hours.

Supply all requested documentation

Leaving certain documents or information out of your application is often a red flag that something isn’t quite right. Failing to submit your payslips or proof of income might give the impression that you’re unable to afford the property. Leaving big gaps in your rental history could be a sign that you were forced to vacate a property for any number of reasons.

There are often innocent explanations for missing information. You may have been travelling overseas and only recently came back, or you might have separated from an ex-partner. Explaining these reasons helps to alleviate the Property Manager’s concerns and will likely save your application from being put to the bottom of the pile.

Include a thorough rental history

Including a detailed history of your previous rental properties or accommodation shows that you have experience in renting and paints an image of reliability. Although this may not always be possible, particularly for those leaving home for the first time, it’s one of the most important parts of your application.

This also gives the Property Manager or Landlord a chance to speak with your previous lessor’s in order to get a feel for what you were like as a tenant.

Give your referees a heads up

Make sure you give anybody you list on your application a heads up that they might be getting a phone call (or email). This will help to jog their memory about what their experience in dealing with you was like and creates an opportunity for you to remind them what a pleasure you were to deal with.

Getting a phone call out of the blue can be off-putting and might make your references feel uncomfortable about the whole situation. Spending that extra hour to contact your previous Landlord’s to let them know you’ve put them on your application is not only polite but will make them feel more relaxed about the situation and makes them more likely to put in a good word.


Remember that all applications go to the owner for their consideration and the more accurate the information, and the better the impression you create, the more likely you are to secure that perfect pad you’ve fallen in love with.

Property Managers usually have many applications needing to be processed prior to passing them through to the owner. The less time they need to spend finding out and verifying information provided, the better and quicker decisions can be made.

By following this simple advice, you will make the whole process easier for both yourself and your prospective new Property Manager. Being organized, pleasant and easy to deal with will make their decision a whole lot easier. A decision that hopefully bodes well for your application.

If you’re considering selling your property, why not speak to one of our senior agents? Our agency principal, Peter Tolhurst, has over 25 years experience and would be happy to perform a free, no obligation market appraisal at a time that suits you.

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