Gone are the days of casually contemplating a select number of rental homes while considering your next move, confident in the knowledge that you tick all the boxes on tenant desirability. In fact, depending on your preferred location or suburb, you may be in for a rude shock.
While many outer suburbs are experiencing extended vacancies and a loss of rental income, the Inner West, Eastern Suburbs and Lower North Shore of Sydney are all enjoying one of their strongest markets ever.
Standing out in a competitive rental market
During my last move, I was one of a bumper crowd pre-registered to inspect a rental home. Every other group of would-be renters looked and dressed the same as I did and were roughly the same age. Here we all were, looking for the same type of rental property while I quickly faced the sobering realisation that there wasn’t much to set me apart.
I knew I would need to put a lot of effort into meeting the agent, making a great first impression and ensuring the details on my application form were presented in the best possible light. It’s definitely one of the most stressful experiences I’ve had when contemplating a home move.
The practice of “lawful discrimination”
What many rental applicants don’t realise is that they’re subject to the bias of agents and landlords during the assessment process.
There are regulations and processes to protect renters from blatantly unlawful discrimination. But sadly “lawful discrimination” is a much murkier and less obvious phenomenon which can be easily covered up. It’s a widespread practice unfortunately and not much is being done to call it out. It may take generational change in both investors and agents to be stamped out or reversed
Culture change is needed but may be slow to come
Culture change at agency level won’t happen if the beliefs and requirements of the landlord do not. It can be a real deadlock where an agent faces losing business if they vouch for a “suitable-on-paper” tenant who doesn’t meet the landlord’s requirements and a landlord refuses to budge with their unrealistic requirements of a tenant.
What it comes down to is the fact that landlords want to minimise their risk and maximise their return by generating a guaranteed rental stream from tenants who will cause the least possible wear and tear. Often this means they reject families with small children or pets and some will even frown on tenants who receive government assistance for their rent. These are all examples of lawful discrimination.
Putting your best foot forward
In a difficult market and one with so many inbuilt biases, a renter’s agent can help you present your application in the best possible light.
We can demonstrate how a family renting with small children actually represents a longer term and more secure tenancy from a landlord’s perspective, and can suggest strategies such as fixed rent increases to keep the landlord happy.
Similarly, it can actually be a huge plus to allow companion animals in a rental property when you consider the large percentage of Australians that own pets. Not allowing pets cuts out some 50% of the potential market and advocating for pet owners is something a renter’s agent can also help with.
It’s normal for an investor to budget for one to two weeks of vacancy per year. With an established, long-term tenant (whether it be one with young children or pets) an investor will easily gain back that rent that would otherwise be lost.
A renter’s agent can help
Restoring the balance for tenants may require taking the lead from countries where more people rent and do so for longer periods, in comparison to the one to two year average in Australia. In the meantime, a renter’s agent may be your best bet to level the playing field and boost your appeal as a prospective tenant.
Get started on the journey to your perfect rental home here by telling us more about what you’re after: Renter’s Requirement Form.