Lifestyle & CultureUni Life

Renting for Beginners: Some Tips From A Real Estate Agent

Renting for the first time can be hard, scary and confusing. Nikola Jokanovic tries to make it less so.

Living out of home is hard enough, but even getting there can be a tricky process: where to rent, what to rent, how much, who with, who gets the bigger TV, and so on. Many of us wouldn’t know where to start on a meal more complex than cereal, let alone on packing up and setting off into full independence for the first time.

Luckily, there is a man who does. Keenan Armstrong is a real estate agent with Marshalls Property in Lake Macquarie, although he has years of experience in inner Newcastle and surrounding areas as well. Here are a few of his tips on what the typical deeply confused university student should be keeping in mind when making those first steps beyond the family home.

Plan ahead

By this, Keenan basically means ‘have your money ready’. “There are two main things that real estate agents and landlords look for. The ability to pay the rent and the ability to pay the bond. Two big things. Let the real estate agent know you’ve got a bond upfront, which is four weeks, plus they’ll ask you for two weeks in advance, so you need six weeks of rent upfront.” You may have difficulty securing a lease without proof of your ability to pay rent and bond, and without some of each saved up ahead of time.

Keep lease times in mind

Although Keenan says that landlords do not need to disclose their reasons for approving or rejecting an application or choosing one application over others, there are some things you can do to put yourself ahead in the running. “We use a funnel system and usually give the landlord the two best applications to choose from. Often it will come down to how long they want the lease for. If a student only wants it for three months and they’re going up against someone who will do a twelve-month lease, the twelve months is much more appealing.” Think about how long your lease will be, and whether the length you’re looking for makes you suitable or attractive to a certain type of housing situation.

Triangulate between price, location and living arrangements

Just like how you can’t get all the sleep, study and Netflix time you may want, you might not be able to get the best of all three. Keenan says this is very much up to you. “As a student, it comes down to your personal preference on what sort of renting you want. You can pretty easily get one-bedroom apartments around Merewether and the Junction, where you get your own privacy at a pretty reasonable rate, though some come up to between $300 and $400 [a week]. At the end, it’s all on affordability and how close you want to be to the uni and other facilities, like shops. Some of the big areas for share houses are Jesmond and Birmingham Gardens, lots of five or six-bedroom houses, some quite cheap at around $100 [a week] per room, both really close to the uni.”

Avoid dodgy dealings

Keenan made note of tricks that some landlords might try and pull. “In regards to boarding houses, you don’t have to pay water or electricity, by law, unless each room is separately metered regarding electricity and water. There’s a lot of housing out there where landlords are charging for these services but they aren’t separately measured.” Keenan also advises you try and keep things as legit as possible. “Be careful of private rentals. Make sure, if you do a private rental, that an actual lease is involved. Otherwise, they might be able to kick you out with no notice.”

There’s a lot more to think about when it comes to renting your first space; it’s probably best to see your local real estate agent for the real nuts and bolts of moving out. Just keep in mind that agents like Keenan can’t help you figure out who gets the good TV or the bigger room (though the unofficial rule is ‘whoever had to share a room with their sibling when they were younger’).

Feautre image by Reid McManus

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