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5 steps to master renting for the first time

11 October 2021

Most people will rent accommodation at some stage of their life.

It’s a rite of passage for young adults leaving home for the first time, a necessity for people saving to buy their own property, or an easy option for people with mobile careers that take them to different cities.

Whatever it is that has you scanning the “TO LET” listings, there are a number of important things to consider before you sign a rental lease.

If you prepare properly, renting can be a rewarding stage of your life.

Here is a 5-point checklist to ensure your time renting for the first time is stress-free.

1. Write down your must-haves

Talk to anyone who has been renting for years across multiple properties. You’ll quickly discover they have a mental list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘no-way-never-agains’.

To help avoid some mistakes, write down what’s important to you in a rental home.

  • Natural light. Does your living room need to face a certain direction? For instance, do you want it to face west and get light in the afternoon?[HD2]
  • Do you need parking or can you do without?
  • Do you work from home? Is there a space for this?
  • How many bathrooms do you need?
  • Are you happy living on a main road?
  • Are you happy with an electric stovetop or do you want gas? What about your heating?
  • If you have or may want pets, are you happy with carpeted floors or do you need a hard surface like timber?
  • Is a backyard important to you?
  • Do you need a lot of storage space?

Take twenty minutes to write things down and you’ll soon start to get an idea of what your ideal place looks like.


2. Take a checklist to inspections

You’ve only got 15 minutes to inspect somewhere you may want to live in for years. Meanwhile, 20 other people are inspecting the same property and a few are already talking to the property manager in the kitchen. The heat is on!

Having an inspection checklist will help you keep your cool and avoid any nasty surprises after you’ve signed the lease.

Some things to include:

  • Does the property match your above must-haves?
  • Lighting. Is it all functioning?
  • Walls and ceilings. Are there signs of cracks or mould?
  • Windows. Are there any cracks or moisture damage on sills?
  • Is there air conditioning and heating?
  • Does the exhaust hood work?
  • Flooring condition.
  • Are taps dripping?
  • Bathroom tiling condition. Is there moisture damage?
  • Do the window blinds work?
  • Do all the windows open as expected?
  • Are there smoke alarms?
  • Are there adequate electrical outlets?
  • Is there a telephone connection for internet?

3. Complete your condition report 

Take the time to go through every point listed in the condition report, which your new agent will provide to you before signing the lease.

A condition report lists the condition of every aspect of the property, from the flooring to the cupboards. It will typically list any current signs of wear-and-tear or damage, so when you eventually end your lease, the agent can compare the property’s conditions to how it was when you moved in. If they spot major damage, they can reasonably withhold some or all of your bond deposit to pay for its repair.

Going over the condition report and adding any additional signs of damage or wear-and-tear will protect you in the future and helps the real estate agent maintain their records.

4. Organise your finances

Consistently failing to pay your rent on time — often referred to as going into arrears — can come back to haunt you, as your property manager may note this down in any reference they provide on your behalf when seeking out a new place to live.

Organise with your bank so that a portion of your regular pay automatically transfers to a specific savings account. You might name it ‘Rent/bills’ to keep track. Doing so means you know you always have your rent and utilities covered.

5. Find peace of mind

One thing that is often overlooked by renters is insurance. Because the property is someone else's it doesn't cross their minds. But although the owner of the property is protected by landlord's insurance if the house or flat is damaged, their policy doesn't cover a tenant's possessions.

By not having portable contents insurance a renter is risking losing everything in the event of theft, fire, flood or some other calamity.

Have you ever considered how much it would cost to replace all your belongings – the big stuff and the small – if you were to lose everything in a house fire?

Suncorp offers contents insurance which is available to renters, so they can have peace of mind that their belongings are all insured. There are also additional optional covers for things like accidental damage and/or pet cover.


Contents Insurance for Renters

Any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.