The housing market in Australia is tough to break into and renting can provide an affordable solution. Finding a rental property or renting out your own investment will take time if you want to do it properly. Before you jump in with the first opportunity that seems right we asked the experts what to look out for when renting.

A lot of issues that come up weeks or months into your lease could have been solved at the initial meeting if you knew the warning signs. Real estate agent and founder of Vogue Real Estate, Nicole Ciantar, has these tips for future renters:

“It can be very stressful living in a rental property. There are lots of things to consider, for example; how long would I be able to live in this property? Will they increase the rent? Can I have a pet? And that is just to name a few!

If you’re unsure of what you’re about to get yourself into consider these tips:
– Do you have a rapport with the agent/landlord
– Ask questions like “does the owner do repairs promptly?”
– Do a thorough check of all appliances to ensure they are working
– If the agent/landlord says they will be doing works at the property ensure it’s written into the lease
– Ask “why did the last tenants move out? This is an indication of what you’re about to receive (if they tell the truth)

Some general warning signs:
– Is the property in a poor state of presentation
– High tenant turnover; you should be able to find this out via google
– If the agent/landlord isn’t engaged with your conversation then they don’t care which in turns means lack of communication and knowledge so your rental experience is going to be poor”
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Renting a property is not typically a long-term plan. You’re thinking year by year, or even month by month. You’re also prepared to change your living conditions quickly. With this in mind you don’t want to set up an overly permanent home. But you also want it to feel like home while you’re living there. Here’s our advice for comfortable renting:

Keep it to the bare necessities. Everything you own should be able to be packed up for storage or sold in the case that you or your landlord decide to change your living arrangements. To save money and time look for attractive furniture online. It’ll be delivered straight to your door which eliminates the need for trips to the furniture store or lugging it up the stairs by yourself.

On that note, a bed base and headboard is going to be the best option for storage and comfort. Many people think they can get by without a sturdy headboard but this is not recommended. Leaning against your headboard in bed will be much more comfortable and prevent smudges, marks or sweat transferring to the walls. It can also add a layer of insulation for thin walls which may be a feature of newly built or renovated properties.

You may have found a furnished rental which came with the mattress, bed and other necessities. This is great because it saves you the effort of buying expensive furnishings but the downside is you haven’t hand-selected your furniture. For example, the mattress may be too firm for your liking. You could always buy a new mattress that suits your needs. Another option is a soft mattress topper which will customise the fit and feel of your bed without requiring storage space for when you’re on the move.

It’s not just the tenants who should be discerning when entering the rental market. Sydney Buyers Agent Dean Berman helps many Australians find investment properties which many decide to rent. Here’s his advice when choosing tenants:

“Key points to look out for when renting property:
– Do your best to ensure your tenants will treat the property with respect and will be able to pay the rent on time by screening them on areas such as job references and rental databases
– Make sure you feel comfortable with the tenants during the inspection
– Understand how many people will be living in the property
– Ensure you make the ground rules clear such as no sublets if you don’t want an AirBnB situation occurring
– Try to understand the tenants previous rental history
– Take photos of the property before renting it out, so you can see what it looked like in its original condition

The main warning signs:
– If the tenants don’t have secure employment, then there could be potential issues, make sure you can see proof of funds or potentially organise for the rent to be paid in advance to reduce risk
– A poor rental history or constant moving”
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Don’t get caught out by a lack of knowledge. Whether you’re looking to rent or looking for tenants in your investment these are the warning signs and general tips to keep in mind.

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