The Australian rental market has taken a serious hit from the coronavirus pandemic. According to recent figures, since last April some 31% of tenants have already moved out or are considering to. As rents have fallen all over the country many are trying to find a better deal and this means a lot of work for real estate agents who have to process hundreds of rental applications. Here is what you need to look for when examining an application.

Income and Credit Checks

The fundamental question when considering a rental application is whether a person can afford to live on that property. The owner of the house will want the rent to be paid on time, so you will need to see income documents, paychecks or whatever means of supporting themselves the prospective tenants declare. Having the means to pay doesn’t mean they will actually be punctual about rent so the next step is to verify their credit score. You need to check with a major credit reporting agency like TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax, to see if they usually pay their bills on time or if they’ve had any problems.

Check their employment records

To see if the prospective tenant will be able to pay rent on time in the months and years to come you need to have a look at their employment records. Are there many gaps in their work history? Why is that? Do they change jobs often? How long have they’ve been with their current employer?

Run a criminal background check

The property owner has the right to know what sort of person they’re renting to and whether they’re law-abiding citizens or not. To solve this problem quickly, you should use an accredited online agency that can provide a full background check. One option is the local post office or the police station. Another option is the Australian National Character Check which is an online process and the police check application itself can also be completed online. You’ll have a full national police check report in your email in 2-3 days and you can present the property owner with all the facts.

Previous eviction and residence history

Another thing you need to check is the applicant’s eviction and residence history. Do they change places often? If so, why is that? Ask for references from previous landlords and make sure to check on them. A simple phone call with a previous owner can tell you what sort of tenant the applicant is and how well they’ve taken care of the last place they rented. If the applicant has been evicted make sure to ask for details and present them to the property owner you’re working with.

Check their lifestyle

This can be done during the tour of the house, with or without the owner being present. Make small talk, ask the tenants what they like to do in their spare time and what sort of hobbies do they have. Do they have many friends, do they entertain often? At the same time, it is best to check out their social media accounts as these can offer valuable clues about the sort of person you’re dealing with. Hosting frequent parties with a lot of alcohol might result in property damage and the destruction of furniture and appliances

In the end, it is up to the owner to rent or not, but it is the duty of a good real estate agent to come up with a full report on a prospective tenant so that the landlord can make an informed decision.

Sam Allcock