The story obviously begins with making the decision to move from Melbourne to Sydney. Now I ain’t no innocent Melburnian who thinks that if I go for the same footy team as the owners then I’m guaranteed the property [even though that’s probably true in Melbourne] – but when I arrived in Sydney, I didn’t realise there were so many unwritten rules about applying for rental properties. So in the end, of the four months it took to find a place, about 3 months was spent just figuring out the strategy involved in securing a rental property. Yep, that’s a hell of a lot of effort just to live in someone else’s place, pay off their mortgage and have no sense of belonging in your home because it’s not really yours.
Anyway, to hopefully save some future Sydney Immigrants the heartache of not understanding how a property that has an open inspection listed for Sunday afternoon, but arrives and finds out that someone got it on Friday morning, here are some secret rules of the Sydney Rental Market:
- No bathroom, no deal: The first rule of searching online for rental properties is so universal and absolute: ‘if the bathroom doesn’t feature in the pictures online, then the bathroom is a fucking pigsty and the place is a dump’. Even if the rest of the place looks amazing, imagine every morning, putting on thongs before going into the shower because there’s so much grime on the tiles that any direct skin-to-tile contact will mean that you’ll have to be quarantined for approximately 14 days.
Case in point shown below – a place in Bondi that happened to have no pictures of the bathroom:
Then you walk into the bathroom…..
[Note I do apologise if you actually live here and you’re reading this and going “oh hey that’s our place….”. It’s not you, I just don’t like contracting foot and mouth disease every time I shower]
- Always pre-fill applications: From the moment a property you might like is posted to realestate.com.au, you have approximately 130 seconds to submit an application then call the agent. So it’s best to have all the key things ready in PDF to send – that is, PDF copies of your driver’s license, your passport, your last pay slip, past utilities bills, employment contract and of course a letter of reference from the Prime Minister attesting to your character….[what a fucking farce! Why don’t they just add “Clearance from ASIO” to the list!]
- Always arrange a Mid-Week Inspection: After submitting your application call up the agent immediately and hassle them for an inspection BEFORE the listed open for inspection. Yep, of course you have nothing going on in your life and can drop everything for the whim of this dumb real estate agent and you’re happy to leave work at 10am to see them in Bondi and take a $70 return cab to get there.
- Hustle/hassle, Hustle/hassle, Hustle/hassle until you get it: Next is just to keep up the phone calls to the agent until you get it. They’ll hate your guts, but better they know you as the good applicant that’s a pain in the arse, than just the rando who’s still waiting to see the property on the weekend…that guy has no chance.
- Last Rule: If there’s a family also in the running then just forget it…you got no hope. Despite the fact that you might offer $500 more per week, on a 24 month lease, you have no chance against the Property Manager’s favourite…the family. Fuck the fucking family. Just because you have children, apparently that’s meant to be a key indicator of “stability” which they love way more than more money apparently. As far as I can see, families contain at least one really really bad roommate, one who has no ability to pay rent, is very messy, can often not control bodily functions, and just farts, cries and craps all the time – if you ask me that’s the definition of being the crappest excuse for a tenant…and yet if there’s a family on the list, then you got no hope. The property is gone.
Anyway to secure the property I wanted to rent, I had to jump through an additional and unusual hoop of being interviewed by The Landlord. This interview was of those moments in life where you’re 90% sure everything’s ok, but then 10% of you has this completely legitimate feeling that you could be meeting an axe murderer, who also happens to be good at property investing. To be honest, whilst The Landlord wasn’t an axe murderer, the whole thing was still super creepy. Rocking up at this guy’s house, being seated at a table only designed for interviews, being asked if I wanted a glass of water, then spending the next hour being asked about my career and life objectives….with the odd question about how clean I am…all for a rental property. After that, I had to wait so long to receive an answer about the property, that I could only assume that the agent and The Landlord only communicated by a poorly trained, message pigeon who carried messages in a bottle.
Good news though we got it. Bad news…this story doesn’t end there….[ooh that’s my creepy, Landlord way of saying “I’ve ranted enough, so I’ll give you a break now”]