https://milraypark.com.au/the-magazine/find-great-rental-property

How to find a great rental property

By Amelia Barnes
How to find a great rental property

by AMELIA BARNES

The rental market is tough, and it’s not made any easier by agents’ exaggerated claims, vague property information and blurry photography.

Help make your next search less tedious with the following tips:

#1 Don’t believe the hype

Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space

A major oversight often made by renters is refusing to look for properties beyond the ‘coolest’ suburb in the market. I don’t mean looking out further from the CBD, but literally just considering the next suburb over or a side of the city you’re less familiar with.

It’s in the coolest suburbs you’ll commonly find poorly maintained properties that are easily leased simply because of the demand, making the standard for landlords low and the competition among renters high.

Often the stereotypes associated with suburbs aren’t true, and the rental prices vastly different to buying, meaning you may find a hidden gem in a slightly wider search. For example, while Toorak is Melbourne’s most expensive suburb to buy in, it has many reasonably priced apartments that make for great rentals.

#2 Look at the older apartments

Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space

When I’m looking for a home to rent in Melbourne, very rarely do I inspect those built in the past 50 years.

In my experience, the city’s older apartments (mainly art deco and mid-century buildings) are larger, better maintained and less competitively sought-after than their modern counterparts. Sure, they might not have gym and a lap pool downstairs, but they’re generally located in pockets already with significant parkland and amenity, such as South Yarra and St Kilda.

#3 Read past the jargon

Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space

Occasionally I hear of people who apply for a rental property based solely on the agent listing and I shudder with fear. So often the language on these listings is inflated, making it very difficult to truly gage what a property is actually like.

Once you’ve committed to a rental, it’s generally difficult and expensive to break the lease, so it pays to do your research upfront.

Always ignore the jargon, inspect the property and ask the agent those important questions, even if the answer is outlined in the listing. For example, it’s common for agents to sneakily imply there’s on-site parking available, when in actuality there’s a chance of obtaining street parking permits, so be sure to check.

#4 Do a background search

Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space

The invention of online agent and rental property review sites such Don’t Rent Me has shifted some of the power from landlords to renters. Now, renters can leave reviews of their past properties for the world to see, and hopefully warn off prospective tenants.

A lot of these sites are still in their infancy, but if you do see a property you’re interested in listed with a dodgy review – run.

Sometimes simply typing a property address into a Facebook search can reveal publicly posted grievances from previous tenants (I’ve seen multiple about mould issues that landlords have refused to fix) which will save you a lot of time and money down the track.

#5 Don’t trust the photos

Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space
Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space

It would be reasonable to assume that if a rental listing has terrible photos, it properly just isn’t worth your time ­– right? Weirdly enough, bad photos are sometimes just the product of a lazy agent in a competitive market, and not a true reflection of the property itself.

If you’ve found a property online that ticks all the boxes in terms of price and location and still looks half decent, find out the real story at the inspection.

Cover Image: Dan Soderstrom for Rented Space

Amelia Barnes is a journalist and the co-founding editor of Rented Space a website about creatively styled rental properties and their tenants.

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