Australia’s rental market is tough right now. An affordable, stable and reputable rental property seems to be as rare as rocking horse poop all around the country. It seems especially tricky in the Southern Highlands, with people from all over the country flocking to our beautiful region to escape a rat race set against the backdrop of the Pandemic.

We don’t blame them and we certainly welcome them. With new community members comes a beautiful diversity and a flourishing economy. However, the question is, “where is everyone going to live?” Anecdotally, we’ve heard stories of how difficult securing a rental is right now (huge demand, low supply). Fortunately, a new Aussie start-up – Rent Rabbit – is helping tenants crack the country’s competitive rental market.

Why is Australia’s rental market so competitive?

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, one-third of Australian households rent, mostly in the private rental market. Median rental prices for homes across all of Australia’s capital cities are reaching record highs. Prospective renters face the challenge of soaring demand, low supply and increased competition. Sadly, at the moment, securing a suitable lease in a competitive rental market is proving more challenging than ever. 

The start-up supporting Aussies secure their dream rental home 

With the rest of the country using lockdown to perfect their sourdough baking techniques, identical twins Ben Pretty (Sydney renter) and James Pretty (Brisbane landlord) opted instead to find a solution to tackle Australia’s competitive rental market.

Identifying the challenges of finding a reputable rental home as competition intensified and listings dwindled, the brothers created the market’s first and only website to help give renters real help in the ongoing battle for fairness. Think: Trip Advisor for tenants.

“We like to call ourselves the Trip Advisor for renters,” laughs Ben, but adds seriously, “our platform features honest feedback from renters on Australia’s two million rental properties. This empowers potential tenants to investigate any property, at any time, for free.” 

rental market
Like Trip Advisor For Rental Properties

If you want to find out what previous renters thought of the property, how much the rent was or simply wondering whether you can repaint your walls without freaking out your landlord, you’ll find it on Rent Rabbit.

The initiative aims to open up the rental market with insights and reviews and ultimately empower tenants to make the right choice when signing a lease. Does the house have a mould problem? Is the landlord quick to fix issues or problems? Do they respect your privacy? Is the estate agent awesome?

“As renters ourselves, we have both been blindsided by landlords and estate agents and we don’t want anyone else to have to experience this,” says James. “Everyone wants to know the real deal and not see things with tinted glasses, which a lot of the time is how homes are presented to potential new tenants and it’s not fair.”

Tips for tenants: How to crack the competitive rental market 

So you’ve done your due diligence and found the rental property of your dreams. In this crowded market, it can be disheartening to apply for a rental home – you’re competing with dozens of other families, rents may be skyrocketing or you may not be able to find anything that suits you and your family’s needs. So what do you do? Don’t let it get you down – there are ways to secure the rental home of your dreams.

To help your application stand out, and give yourself the best shot of securing your new home, Ben recommends the following tips. 

Be punctual and prepared

Rental application starts from your very first interaction. Be prepared even before the inspection by getting the drop on the new rental properties that come on the market. Most real estate websites offer ‘property alerts’ or notifications. When you register for these alerts, you can contact the agent even before a property opens for an inspection. Once you have a viewing time or register for a viewing, make sure you arrive on time and in a neat causal presentation

Be courteous of others

When turning up for an open home, make sure you are courteous to everyone. This includes the property manager as well as others viewing the home. Be genuine and kind towards others – it will put you in a good light with the property manager. It doesn’t hurt to remember that everyone viewing the house have different requirements to you. Don’t view them as competition.

Begin the application with a unique cover letter

A cover letter in addition to the normal application forms have worked in the favour of applications – it can really help you stand out from the crowd. The letter should include employment details, the property you are applying for and your property history – whether you owned or rented in the past.

Southern Highlands Style also recommends that you include pictures of previous rental properties you have lived in, ensuring they are in pristine condition. Also take photos of the garden, if you have one, to prove that you are committed to upkeep of the home and land. Include any references from employers, previous neighbours, flatmates, pet sitters or dog walkers if you have pets. All of this helps to show your personality, responsibility and integrity and makes you a more favourable candidate. Have everything on a USB that you can give to the property manager, with your application and cover letter, on the day of the inspection.

Build out your profile on the main platforms (such as 1form )

This will make your life and the agent’s life easier. Most rental applications nowadays are electronic, via online forms. When you start looking, log on to these forms well before undergoing the viewing process. This will make it much simpler and convenient for you to apply. Another tip – once you have applied, don’t hesitate to send the property manager a short concise SMS letting them know you’ve lodged your application.

Check how you are presenting yourself on social media.

Property managers have been known to check social media for further insights into tenants. Ideally, your profiles are set to private, or the main photos are more professional than personal.