Renters: What to look for in a rental property

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the emotion of finding a new rental property, and forget to look over and think about basic requirements of a good rental property. Snug has developed a list of things to think about when looking at a property, so that you find a property that not only looks great, but is also practical and meets your needs.

1. Location

When considering a suburb/area to look at, make sure to think through the area’s accessibility to various important places. If you’re working full time and drive a car to work, be sure to consider factors such as parking, tolls, distance to work. If you rely on public transport, then be sure to ensure that public transport infrastructure is accessible in the neighbourhood. Things to consider: Distance to work Distance to schools Distance to shops Availability of amenities (e.g. hospitals, parks etc.) Distance to parks/beaches etc.

2. Layout and size of property

When looking at a rental, be sure that the physical spaces meet your needs (be sure to think about future needs too, depending on how long you plan on leasing for). For example, a young professional working from home may be ok with a smaller place, provided it has space for an office and storage. Alternatively, a couple expecting kids might prefer a place that has a bigger kitchen, and floor plan that allows for rooms to be changed around/used for different purposes. This all comes down to how long you plan on renting for and what you believe your needs will be throughout the duration of the lease.

Additionally, if the property is unfurnished, be sure to measure spaces to make sure that your furniture and appliances will fit in the property. Major things to look out for is whether or not here is ample space for white goods such as fridges and washing machines, as well as dining tables, beds and TVs.

3. Cleanliness/repairs

It’s important to evaluate the cleanliness and condition of the property as this is a good indication of how the property manager responds to maintenance requests, as well as the livability of the property. Be sure not to worry too much about general ‘wear and tear’, but ensuring you test appliances and bring up any required repairs with the property manager before applying for the property. It’s strongly recommended that if you agree to rent a property based on the property manager making necessary repairs, that this is agreed-upon in writing, preferably as part of the final lease agreement.

4. Security

Safety and security should be a principal concern when looking at a property. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t consider it enough until they eventually live somewhere that doesn’t have sufficient security. When considering a rental property, be sure to ask the following questions: Do all points of entry to the property have locks? Can you leave bathroom and laundry windows open for ventilation without it being a security risk? If it’s in a not-so-safe area, consider asking your landlord to change all the locks Is the street well lit? Are there CCTV cameras in the area? How are common areas in the street maintained?

5. Storage

Storage in a rental property is often considerably overlooked, and often isn’t considered when considering a rental property. However, with external storage being quite pricey, it’s worth thinking about some of your larger items and where you can see them being stored in the property. This is especially important for apartments or houses with no garage. Consider where you might store things such as bicycles, book collections, musical instruments etc. to avoid being stuck in a cluttered property, or having to fork out for extra storage.

6. The lease term

The lease term is the duration of the lease that is agreed-upon by both the renter and property manager. They are usually month-to-month or a 12 month contract, although any amount of time is a valid lease term, provided both parties agree to it.

Tenants that are constantly on the move, or tend to travel frequently are more likely to appreciate the flexibility of a month-to-month arrangement. Conversely, those that plan on staying in the area for a while, such as families, are more most likely to appreciate the stability that a fixed-term agreement provides.

Property managers will generally have two different types of “game plan”; either those looking for short leases, priced at a premium, yet with high tenant turnover; or those that prefer a longer lease with stable income but are more likely to accept a lower rent. Most property adverts will specify the minimum lease term, and this can help the renter understand what kind of tenant the property manager is looking for.

Those that are looking for a longer lease than what the property manager has suggested as the minimum term have a good chance of being able to negotiate a cheaper rent, due to the longer term.

7. Maintenance

If the rental property that you’re interested in has a large garden or swimming pool, be sure to check with the property manager about what maintenance requirements are. Furthermore, if your landlord agrees to maintain/pay for the maintenance of these facilities, make sure that this is written in the lease agreement.

8. Costs

When considering a rental property, costs are often one of the biggest factors. As a result, understanding what a good proportion of your income to be spent on rent should be, as well as considering all potential costs is very important.

9. Figuring out your budget

Rental budgets are different for everyone, and thus, manageable ratios of rent to income will be different, however as a general rule of thumb, it isn’t suggested that you spend more than ⅓ of your income on rent.

10. Considering all costs

Unfortunately, paying rent is rarely as simple as paying the advertised rent each month. So, be sure to consider all costs that could be involved with moving in and throughout the duration of the lease term. These might include: Rent Bond Cost of moving (e.g. truck hire etc.) Strata costs Wifi Utilities New furniture

Happy house hunting!

Team Snug