The photos of the property on the internet were very promising. It was clear that a wide angled lens had been used to make the rooms look larger and it was a slight worry that there were no kitchen or bathroom shots but it had the right number of bedrooms, seemed light and bright and seemed reasonably priced. The open for inspection was a 5.30pm right in the middle of peak traffic but off I drove leaving enough time to be able to be one of the first to get through in the 15 minute allocated time slot. I was wrong. As I drove past the home a line had already formed outside the rental and with 15 minutes to go before the agent let people through, a parking spot was hard to find. I observed the opposition with interest. The first in line were a couple who were openly smoking as they leant against the wall. On the whole landlords are not keen on smokers. Couple two was a colorful pair sporting tattoos further drawn to attention by the short skirt in one case and the shorts and vest in the others. Property managers often read tattoos to mean wild parties: best to cover up for the viewing. Sadly, the other nine parties in front of me looked fine contenders for the Excellent Tenant’ award and even more sadly of the 12 parties going through, only one was going to be offered a tenancy.
So why is there so much competition for good rental properties? There are many reasons why and one of the most obvious is that our population is expanding. Our cities can not keep pace with the number of newcomers who need accommodation and the shortage of quality tradesmen means that our construction of new dwellings is lagging behind the demand. In addition property prices have been at an all time high so many landlords have taken the opportunity to sell their property when it comes to the end of a lease, this depleting the pool of rental properties available. A substantial number of these properties are left vacant rather than being rented out. Many who decide to put their home on the market choose to rent while the wait for the bubble to burst, again putting strain on the rental market and some young singles, couples and families simply can not afford to buy into the inflated market. Next we are in uncertain times and therefore Australians who are usually willing to travel overseas to take a job are sitting firmly where they are and so the usual lovely properties which would become vacant while the owner is being an expat are now not becoming available.
So all in all it is a tough market with Sydney being also one of the most expensive rental markets in the world and Melbourne having a vacancy rate of around 1.1% which is extremely tight. If you are looking for a rental property you need to put your best foot forward and be prepared to make a shortlist rather than assuming you will get the first property you apply for.