How to Apply for a Rental Property (and get approved quickly!)

How to Apply for a Rental Property (and get approved quickly!)

Ben and I found the perfect flat last week, a 2 bedroom flat with views out over the hills and out towards forever, and sent through our applications almost immediately. We've been sitting biting our thumbs waiting to be approved for the past week, as the reason for the move is because I was offered a role in Edinburgh in March. We decided to move to a commuter village so I could get to my work and Ben could get to his, and this flat was perfect. 

However, last Friday I received an offer in Glasgow I couldn't resist, and given my Edinburgh offer still hasn't been confirmed due to a very slow screening process, I have decided to accept the role here in Glasgow, which means moving isn't necessary.

Luckily, the letting agency forgot to submit our applications to screening, literally, and as such we were able to withdraw our application, which we did promptly - who wants to deal with a letting agency that not only forgets to submit applications, but also doesn't answer their phone or reply to emails. I'm considering this a close call in dodging a bullet!

Anyway, as you know, I was incredibly excited to be move to a new flat, decorate it, and start living the village lifestyle I have always dreamed of, however life has simply decided to provide us with another, less-stressful option, and it is the option we are taking. Apart from making more sense financially and logistically (and our Paris trip may be back on!!) it also means I don't have to move again.

One thing people don’t know about me is that I’ve I have moved house a total of 29 times throughout my life.

These moves have been intercity, interstate, intercontinental, inter-island(?). They have involved make-ups, break-ups, break-downs. They have involved friends, boyfriends, bestfriends. I have lived in five different cities around the world and my next move, whenever it now may be, will be marking the 30th move in my lifetime.

You could say that having moved 29 times in 34 years I’m a bit of a pro at the whole relocation thing, and I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two: I’ve never lost any of my belongings, never had an application for a rental property declined (only forgotten about!), and never lost a security deposit.

With this experience under my belt, I can assure you the most nerve wrecking part of a move, is not the finding a property you want to move to, not the packing or the moving, but submitting an application to a letting agency.

No matter how prepared you are, you'll still be nervous, but there’s a few things I always do when applying that ensures the application is processed and more importantly approved in a speedy manner.

How to Apply for a Rental

One you find a property you want to inspect, you'll have to contact the letting agency to organise a viewing. The letting agent will meet you at the property at a designated time and date, and the morning before this appointment, ensure to contact the letting agency and confirm your attendance – otherwise they may not show up!

Sometimes, they will be showing multiple parties the property at the same time, or they may have had other appointments to show interested parties directly before or after your appointment. Here in Scotland, it’s first in first served, so once the letting agency receives an application, no matter how dodgy, it can’t accept or process any others unless the first application is declined.

Because of this, it’s essential to go to your appointment prepared.

Prior to your appointment, contact the agency and ask them for a blank application form for you to complete prior to attendance, that you can then hand to the letting agency immediately if you want to apply. They may not provide this in advance, however may ask you for a holding deposit (refundable, and contributes towards your security deposit/bond if approved) whilst you complete the forms either at a later time.

Also ensure that you have on hand (either hard or soft copy) the following documentation to submit with your application forms. You should be able to scan or download most of these without any issue:

  • 100 points ID copied and certified (Australia only)
  • Passport (UK)
  • Proof of address showing full name dated within 3 months (utlity bill, bank statement, etc)
  • Recent Bank Statement covering 3 months
  • Recent payslips  covering 3 months
  • Copy of your work contract
  • General Ledger from current tenancy
  • Contact details of current letting agent
  • Copy of Utility Bill or Council Tax letter dating within 3 months

The above information, with the exclusion of the ID, should all date within the last three months. This information is required by letting agents to help them process your application in a timely manner without having to delay the process by requesting additional information.  Remember, it is better to provide too much information rather than not enough.

One application I submitted in Sydney was processed and approved within two hours after viewing the flat, as when I was there I was able to hand the agent my completed application forms, and all ID required. Because they had copies of employment contracts, certified ID, general ledgers of my previous two leases, and bank statements, they had all the information required for an almost immediate approval.

Financially, you will need one month rent plus a deposit or bond of between 4-6 weeks rent. If you paid a holding deposit when applying for the property, this will be deducted from the deposit/bond.

After you have submitted your forms, the agency will let you know how long it will take to process, which typically takes between 2-5 days. If you haven’t heard anything after one week, call the agency and request a follow up – someone may have been sick or on holidays, or forgotten to submit the paperwork! So the process may take a little longer sometimes.

Don’t forget: Once you are approved, you have to give your current landlord written notice!

Once you receive approval, the agency will request one months rent in advance, and the security deposit to be paid. When they receive this, they will organise for you to attend their offices to sign the lease and take hold of the keys. There will be a lot of paperwork to sign, so be prepared to spend at least half an hour in the office, and they will then provide you with the keys to the property, and a condition report and inventory if applicable. With these forms, and keys in hand,  you now have access to the property!

When you move into your new home, take photos of any damage or concerns you have, complete the condition report and inventory prior to unpacking, and send these to the letting agency asap. Once they have signed off on these forms, you’re able to unpack, and make yourself at home!

Just remember, every state and country has it’s own legislation regarding applications for rental properties and commencing a lease – ensure to familiarise yourself with these details so you know both your rights, and the rights of the agency. Also, familiarise yourself with your new lease; although agencies use templates provided by government agencies, they can make changes and edits to these, and it is important to know the expectations placed upon you as a tenant.

Also, if there are any issues with the property, your lease will provide you information on how these are to be reported, repaired, and also if these issues give you the right to break your lease (such as missing keys, etc).

Finding a property you love is easy, but the rental application process can be stressful, but if you are prepared going in - although waiting can be painful, you’ll be living in your new home in no time!

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