Stephanie Anderson June 28, 2012
Tough market ... Canberra's low vacancy rates means securing a rental property can be hard. Photo: Thinkstock
It can be hard trying to stand out from a crowd, especially if it's made up of Canberrans all desperate to find a place to live, Stephanie Anderson writes
When I first started renting, I was desperate to stay on in my apartment.
Each inspection was approached with the fanfare of a Royal visit - windows were buffed, door handles polished and a plate of chocolate biscuits left on the kitchen bench with an invitation to dig in.
But after a decade of experience, I've learnt that keeping a place isn't too hard - it's the getting in that's the tricky part, especially in Canberra.
The city's low vacancy rate is taking a toll on one of my house-hunting colleagues at the moment, so much so that we've joked about taking a pregnant friend along to inspections to guilt the landlord into handing over keys.
Luckily, it shouldn't have to come to this.
Tamara Davis, senior property manager at Luton Properties, says there are a few relatively simple - and honest - things tenants can do to get themselves ahead in the game.
She suggests bringing completed applications to inspections and submitting them on the day if the property looks like a good fit.
''Obviously owners are keen to get the right tenant in as soon as possible,'' she says.
''Sometimes applications that aren't filled out correctly, we can't move forward with.''
Davis also suggests providing as much information as possible to a potential landlord, including references from former property owners and even employers.
''Anything positive that a tenant can attach to an application, they should, even if we didn't ask for it,'' she says.
Davis also recommends writing a letter to accompany an application.
''The cover letters are what I believe really help,'' she says.
''It builds a bit of a rapport between the owner and the tenant, without them even meeting.''
Lina Santosuosso, senior property manager at LJ Hooker, agrees that a cover letter is a great way to let owners learn a little bit about a potential tenant.
''I always think it softens the application, makes it more personable,'' she says. Santosuosso says some applicants have even taken it a step further and handed in photos of themselves and their extended ''family''.
''People also attach photos of their pets,'' she says.
''It's pretty much photos and their life story.''
Hopefully these tips can help my colleague track down a new home, even if he now has to find some cute puppy photos to send along to agents.
This reporter is on Twitter: @stephanieando
What lengths have you gone to in order to land a rental property? Let us know by commenting below.