How to rent a property for the first time

Key2 Property
Two friends discuss a lease agreement in an unfinished room
7 min read

Steps for renting for the first time.

What is the residential tenancy agreement? 

The residential tenancy agreement is the legally binding document that entails the premise and schedule of the lease. This includes start and end dates, bond monies payable, rent payable and when the residential tenancy act and any other terms as discussed. The agreement must be signed in full by all tenants and the agent (on behalf of the owner) to be valid.

What documents are needed for a rental property?

In most states, to support a rental application form, tenants must supply 100 points of identification, a personal history report and proof of income, savings or affordability. 

Tasmania Requirements:

  • 100 points of ID
  • Personal history report
  • Proof of income, savings or affordability
  • Some agencies require a Police Check or a Working with Vulnerable People Check

To find out more about renting in Tasmania check out details from the information provided by the Tasmanian government here.

Queensland Requirements:

  • employment history and current payslips.
  • income statement from Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • your last notice of assessment from the Australian Taxation Office if you’re a contractor or self-employed.

To find out more about renting in Queensland check out more from the Queensland government here.

Victorian requirements:

  • Your identification, including photo identification like a driver’s licence or passport, Medicare card, health care card or birth certificate
  • Names and contact details of people who will give you rental or personal references
  • Your rental history
  • Rent payment receipts or statements
  • Employment details and history
  • Proof of income, like current payslips from your employer or your Centrelink income statement
  • Bank details and copies of your bank statements.

To find out more about renting in Victoria check out more from the Victorian State Government here.

Requirements in New South Wales:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of income, such as a payslip or bank statement
  • Past rental records
  • Personal and work references

To find out more about renting in New South Wales check out more from the New South Wales State Government. 

Requirements in Western Australia:

  • Identification. You will need to include all your personal details in the rental application, including name, current address, employment details etc
  • References
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of rent history
  • Cover letter
  • Utility bills

To find out more about renting in Western Australia check out this page from our friends at REIWA.

South Australian Requirements:

  • Make an enquiry about the property
  • Set up a Rental Profile
  • Attend an open inspection
  • Submit an application
  • Finding out if you’ve got the rental property
  • Signing the lease
  • Reviewing the property condition
  • Paying the rent and bond

To find out more about renting in South Australia check out this source from the South Australian State Government.

What is a condition report?

A condition report is a written report supported by photos that explain the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy. The reason for this is to ensure that the property is returned in the same condition and that the tenant is responsible for any damages or discrepancies. The tenant and agent sign this report to agree that this is the current and true condition of the property and this report is then used as the base line at the end of the tenancy and vacate inspection.

What is a rent bond? 

A rental bond is also known as a security deposit that is essentially collateral for the tenancy. This equates to four weeks of rent and is held with the Rental Deposit Authority for the duration of the tenancy. At the end of the tenancy a bond inspection is completed and if there are discrepancies or damages, a claim can be made against the bond. If there are no damages and the house is still in the same condition as when the tenancy started, the tenants can receive their bond back in full, with no deductions.

Are children counted as tenants?

To be a legal tenant, they must be over the age of eighteen, however we do need to know in the rental application who will be residing at the property, pets and children included. If you have a child who is over the age of eighteen, they will also need to put in their own rental application and supply the forms of ID required.

How do first time renters stand out?

Three friends in a kitchen washing dishes, chatting and drinking tea

What do you write on a first-time rental application?

Applying for a rental property can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time out of home or the first time renting in some time. The key to making a good impression includes telling the agent and landlord some information about yourself, your family, any hobbies and what attracts you to their property. Some information about how you plan to look after it and some qualities about yourself can also help them understand you as a person and a tenant. The information should be concise but informative.

What should you not put on your application?

When applying for a rental property you are trying to showcase yourself to the landlord and agent. Whilst you should be truthful, you don’t want to write negative comments particularly around your current rental property, agent or landlord. The other thing to be wary of is not writing anything at all; the majority of potential tenants are writing great bio’s about themselves and in comparison, an application without any information can feel lacklustre. In a competitive market, you want to stand out and away from the crowd; in a good way.

What qualities do landlords look for in a tenant?

Qualities that landlords look for in a tenant are mainly around respect. Respect for their property and maintaining it well and respect for them by paying their rent on time, every time. Other qualities that don’t go astray are honesty, integrity, flexibility and reliability. 

Can I increase my chances of getting an apartment?

The owner does have the decision on the successful application for their property, however ensuring the application processing is a smooth process will increase your chances. This is because if you provide all of the required documents, ensure all of your references are contactable and are well presented at the inspection, this will mean your application can be fully processed and presented to the landlord quickly.

How to rent for the first time with no references?

Couple viewing a property with an agent by the balcony door

Renting for the first time without references can be tricky, especially when competing with applications that do have rental history. It is important to provide all the information required, even if you are living at home. You can also still provide character references from your employer, teachers and colleagues for example. However the best way to counter not having references for your first time renting is to secure a guarantor. This means that they guarantee your tenancy should anything go wrong in terms of paying rent or even damages.

What credit score do you need to rent your first apartment?

Two friends enjoying a beer on an outside bench

Do all landlords do credit checks?

One of the most common questions from renters is “Do I need good credit to rent?” And the answer is two-fold; no you don’t need good credit to rent however having bad credit will affect your application. All agents complete credit checks as a part of the application process as it advises if there have been any payment defaults that have not been paid back and also paints a picture of if you as a prospective tenant that can afford the rent and will pay it on time.

Can you get a rental property on Centrelink?

What Centrelink documents are needed for a rental application?

We understand that not all tenants are going to be working and there are many reasons why a potential tenant may be on Centrelink assistance. So, what Centrelink documents are required for a rental application? For you to be considered for a property, you will need to provide a statement from Centrelink that breaks down your payments and frequency so that we are able to understand your ability to service rental payments. 

How to rent a house while self-employed, as a casual worker or as a student?

Much like being on Centrelink assistance, there are other scenarios where you may not have a full-time job or wage behind you. Again this just means that you need to show in your application how you will be able to afford the rent for the property with your circumstance. This may mean having a guarantor for the lease, providing your accountant’s information to discuss the finances further or providing proof of savings.

What is the youngest age to rent an apartment?

The youngest age that you can rent a property is 18. The lease agreement is a legally binding document and you do need to be of legal age to sign it, unless there is an exemption of some kind. 

Renting tips for first-time renters

  1. View the property or have someone view it on your behalf
  2. Don’t be late and be well presented for the viewing/inspection
  3. Be prepared, phone ahead and find out what you will need to supply with your application and have these documents ready to go.
  4. Submit your application in full with everything required by the agent for a smooth processing of the application.
  5. Ensure the information you are providing is true and correct


Written by Tameka Smith

Tameka Smith is co-founder and Director of Property Management at Key2 Property. With almost 2 decades of industry experience and her own property portfolio, Tameka always exceeds investor and tenant expectations. Her fresh approach wins her clients for life and industry awards.

Tameka’s accolades include winning:

REIT Residential Property Management Team – 2020, 2021 & 2022

REIA Residential Property Management Team – 2021

REIA Property Manager of the Year 2018 & 2019

REIT Property Management Team of the Year – 2019 & 2020

Find the
latest properties
to hit the market

Over 300,000 properties to choose from in the Homely app for iPhone and Android.
“The best way to find homes!”
-Homely app reviewer
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Homely is an internationally acclaimed real estate portal helping millions of Australians each year to find their next home for sale or for rent. Check out our suburb reviews and local Q&A pages to see what everyone is talking about.

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed.

Leave a reply