If you’ve just bought your first investment property, congratulations are in order! But renting out your property for the first time might feel a bit like climbing a tall mountain.
No one expects you to know how to rent out a property like a pro on your first attempt. Getting a property rented out fast is something even the most seasoned investors struggle with.
34% of investment property owners who come to us say that “finding tenants” is their main pain point.
Charging headfirst without knowing the ropes is brave but not brilliant. If you do, you risk landing a problem tenant who could damage your rental property, or you might suffer extended vacancies.
We’ve come up with a few tips to help you rent out your first property fast and expertly. You’ll know the most important tasks you should complete before renting out your property and some little known secrets for finding good tenants.
1. Know all the parts of getting your property ready for rent
It’s a reality for many property managers: figuring out how to buy and rent out your property for the first time can be tricky, especially if you want to get it done fast and without an agent.
And compliance is a primary concern for landlords – up to 53% of property owners who reach out to us are worried about compliance.
So you’ll need to keep these critical factors in mind if you’re renting out your property for the first time:
- Minimum safety requirements
- Clean your property
- Entry condition report
- Tenancy agreement
Those are the most important ones, but there’s more to it. Use our new tenant checklist to ensure you’re entirely compliant before a tenant moves in.
2. Learn how to set the correct rent
If you’re renting out your property – a house or a flat – for the first time, there are a few different routes you can go to set the rent on your rental property.
- Get a free rental appraisal online.
- Contact your property manager for a rental appraisal letter.
- Calculate monthly rent by yourself.
If you’re keen on getting property management savvy, you may choose to calculate monthly rent yourself if that’s the case, head to our guide to conducting a rental appraisal for a step-by-step walkthrough.
It’s also a good idea to do it yourself and also get a free rental appraisal letter. That way, you can compare your results and find the best rent on your first go.
3. Understand your target demographic
As a landlord renting out your property for the first time, you might be asking yourself:
“How do I know what kind of tenants I should rent out my house to?”
That is a great question. Being across what kind of tenant would be the right fit for your property is the next logical step and will help you:
- Figure out the right time to have your open home and, later, inspections – depending on whether you’re targeting professionals, university students or families.
- Arrange your open home, so it caters to the interests of your target market.
- Create a rental advertisement that will appeal to your target market – think: should that extra room be an office or bedroom?
So – how do you determine the right target demographic to rent your property (house or flat) out to? Here are a few factors to consider:
- Location: Where is your property located? Is it near public transport or a school? Is it in the inner-city area near a university or a quiet suburb? Questions like these will help you understand if your property is better suited to students, working professionals, or families.
- Income: Now that you’ve determined the reasonable rent price for your property, you can evaluate the level of income you expect in tenants. We recommend that income be 30% greater than the rent. If it’s a three-bedroom house at $700 a week, renting to students probably isn’t the go.
Type of tenancy: while long-term tenancies are generally recommended, going for short-term or long-term tenants will depend on how you plan to use your investment property. But, it would help if you thought about it before renting out your property.
4. Market your property in a way that attracts tenants
Marketing will play a significant role in renting out your property – this applies if it’s for the first time or subsequent tenancies.
Once you’ve determined the target demographic you’ll be renting your property out to, marketing your property becomes much more accessible.
To get it right:
- Focus on what your ideal tenants will value most, such as renovations and spaces (bedroom Vs. office) and highlight that in your rental advertisement.
- Add some pizzazz to the rental ad by taking quality professional photos of your property.
- Advertise on more than one website.,
You have a couple of options for marketing your property.
If you have a property manager looking after your property, then you’ll have an advantage because you’ll be able to list your property on the most significant websites, namely domain.com.au and realestate.com.au. Their traffic and the quality of their applicants is simply unmatched.
This is good as your property will get heaps of exposure and better applicants on the whole.
5. Screen your tenants
For many property owners, the length they’re willing to go to in terms of tenant screening is basically to have a chat with them over the phone and maybe ask for a reference.
If you’re serious about preventing any rental arrears or damage to your property, you need to get serious when it comes to tenant screening. It’s simply the best way to avoid problem tenants, and putting in that effort now will save you time, money and energy down the line.
Here are a few ways you can screen and check your tenants:
- Rental history
- Tenant database
- Credit check
- Personal and professional references
All of this information should be provided by tenants in their applications so you’ll be able to cross-check it.
The best way to ensure you’re singing on a good tenant is by having our tenant selection guide handy, where we have a checklist of criteria and steps you can take when screening.
6. Consider getting landlord insurance
Landlord insurance is another safety net that you can put in place to protect your property.
Around 30% of claims are on the loss of rent, it may well save you a lot of heartache down the line. It’ll also protect your property if tenants cause any damage in breach of the rental agreement.
Insurance policies are vital because they act as a safety net when things go awry. A good insurance policy will cover you for things like:
- Rent default
- Loss of rent
- Landlord Contents
- Personal injury or damage to property
It might seem like an excessive expense, and to some, it is, but it’ll give you peace of mind and save you in the long run when something serious happens.
7. Invest in a property manager
You might believe that managing your rental property by yourself is a financially wise decision. You’ll indeed save several thousand dollars over the lifetime of your investment property.
But, if you ask any veteran investor, they’ll probably tell you that hiring one is worth the time you end up saving, especially if you’re renting out your first property.
80% of property owners in Australia hire a property manager.
And with good reason. A good property manager takes care of most aspects related to your investment property. This includes:
- Ensuring your property is compliant with laws and regulations
- Rental appraisal
- Property maintenance
- Rent collection
- Handling incidents requiring urgent attention/repairs
- Resolving disputes
- Conducting routine inspections
You might choose to start with a property manager or agent, and once you learn how to rent out and manage your property on your own, you can always take back the reins.
We recommend reading through our complete guide with everything you need to know about property management so you’re equipped with as much knowledge as possible before making a decision.
8. Be across tenants’ rights and responsibilities
It’s essential to understand what tenants can expect from you and what you can expect from them.
So, you must familiarise yourself with your and your tenants’ rights and responsibilities. These will differ by state, so use this list of references to get started:
9. Start thinking about steps to increase the returns on your investment property
When you’ve successfully signed your tenant, it isn’t time for you to check out. Next on your mind should be to find ways to maximise your investment property’s returns and increase your rental yield.
While this may seem like an added responsibility, we think you should see it as a positive. When you own a rental, you’re not just subject to the random events the universe might seem to throw you like in stocks. Instead, you have a degree of agency to make the journey successful yourself.
Some great ways to increase the value of your property include:
- Property maintenance: keeping your property well maintained (utilities, appliances, outdoor care) will increase its overall value and rent price.
- Invest in improvements and upgrades: There are many upgrades and renovations that you can make to maximise returns. The good news? They’re not all exy!
- Safety and security: make sure your property is safe with fencing and up-to-date security systems.
- Getting pet-friendly: is your property equipped for pets? If it is, consider allowing tenants with pets rent your property – you’ll be able to charge them more!
If you want more tips on growing your property’s value, read our guide on how to maximise your rental returns.
Your investment property is unique in that you have a lot of agency and power to make it more successful on your own, rather than just being a passive investor.
This might seem like a lot to take in, but it credits you to seek expert advice on your first investing journey. It’s a sign that you have lots of great things in store.
Remember, once you get familiar with the process and you’ve rented out your property a few times, it’ll get more accessible, and you’ll know what to expect.
9 Tips for Reducing Your Rental Property’s Vacancy Rates
All property owners with their rental property were occupied by a tenant 365 days a year every year. It’s unlikely that you’ll get there, but by employing methods to lower your vacancy rate and reduce vacancy loss, you’ll get as close to that dream as you possibly can.
Finding tenants to take over a lease is no easy feat, so often, you need to be smart with picking the right tenants and keeping them to reduce your vacancy loss.
Finding tenants to take over a lease is a significant struggle for landlords. 52% of owners who come to us have untenanted properties.
By following our tips, you’ll take steps to keep your rental property’s vacancy rate at a minimum, thereby maximising the returns on your investment property.
So, we’ve broken it down for you – 9 tips that will help you to reduce your vacancy rate. So, you don’t have to endure a negative cash flow a minute longer than you need to.
1. Keep your tenants happy
Maybe the easiest way to reduce your vacancy rate is to hold onto the tenants you already have!
Keeping a tenant for the long term is all about keeping them happy. The happier they are, the more likely they will renew their lease.
If you want an in-depth explanation of how to achieve this, you should read our article 5 Tips for Happy, Long-Term Tenants. But, in a nutshell, this is what you should do to keep your tenants for the long term:
- Stay on top of maintenance
- Be responsive when your tenant reaches out
- Upgrade your property with features tenants want
- Respect their privacy
- Be proactive with lease renewals
2. Get better at lease renewals
By mastering lease renewals, you’ll significantly reduce your vacancy rates and loss on your rental property.
Again, it’s the fancy trick of keeping the tenants you already have instead of wasting your energy finding new ones.
When the end of the agreement is in sight, just giving your tenants enough time to think about whether they want to renew will show that you care about their interests. Being a considerate landlord can make all the difference.
You might also try getting your tenant to extend the lease term at a reduced rate, like going from renewing every six months to restoring every year. And sure, reducing the rent may seem counter-intuitive, but it can be worth it if it means keeping quality, long-term tenants.
3. Keep your rent competitive
Now, you might be hesitant to drop your rent. But remember, it’s all about striking a balance between maximising your rental return and minimising your vacancy rates. Shaving even $30 off will go a long way in securing a cash flow faster.
Reducing your rent by a few bucks a week will always be better than extended vacancies.
Something many owners forget is that when you’ve conducted a rental appraisal and found the sweet spot, it’s not just a one-time thing. What might be competitive rent one year may be significantly underpriced the next.
That’s why it’s so important to scan the market every time you look for a new tenant unless it’s only a few months apart. That way, you’re always attracting quality tenants who will stick around.
If you want to know all about keeping your rent competitive while your property is on the market, read our article on when to reduce the rent on your property advertisement.
4. Use proven property marketing strategies
So how do you put your best foot forward to find tenants fast and keep your vacancy rate low? The answer lies in effectively advertising your rental property.
In our previous article on making your rental property stand out in a competitive market, Leigh Patrick explained how you could keep your vacancy rates at a minimum. She broke it down into three must-dos:
- Invest in renovations tenants truly want
- Get professional photography for your rental property
- Upgrade and repair your property with preventative maintenance
Getting in an experienced real estate photographer who knows what they’re doing when it comes to angles and retouching is a wise investment in itself.
If you want to know more about this in-depth, including which renovations are intelligent investments, head to our guide on making your property stand out.
5. Stay on top of compliance
Now imagine you’re a prospective tenant. You’ve just walked through the front door, and the first thing that hits you is the rotten smell coming from a damp carpet. There are cobwebs around the windows, marks on the walls, and dust on just about every surface. There’s no way you’re staying in the place a minute longer, let alone pay to live there.
Moral of the story: having a clean, well-presented property is essential, and it’s all about having a habit of staying on top of compliance.
A well-presented property will also have the effect of attracting high-quality tenants.
Being generally good at staying on top of paperwork and having all documents in check will signal to your tenants that you know what you’re doing and that you’re a responsible individual.
Sure, staying on the good side of jurisdiction is a plus, but it also has the added benefit of keeping your vacancy rates low.
To do this, you can check out our new tenant checklist, which has all the items you need to complete before and when you bring a tenant on board.
6. Know where to find tenants online
When discussing the best place to find tenants, you can’t go wrong with Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au, the superstars of property websites. Both receive millions of monthly site visits. Plus, they don’t skimp on the vetting when it comes to background checks – so you know you’re in for high-quality applications.
Getting your property on there will net you higher quality tenants faster and significantly reduce vacancy rates.
The only catch is that you need to be a licensed real estate agent to advertise on these sites.
Our recommendation for you DIY owners out there is to use Rent.com.au. Just like Realestate.com.au and Domain, they have a rigorous process of verifying prospective tenants and help filter out low-quality applicants, all while boasting high traffic on their site.
But if you’re looking for your rental needs that extra bit of exposure, you can always hop onto Flatmates.com.au and Flatmatefinders.com.au. These sites allow you to view profiles of prospective tenants:
- how old they are
- where they want to live
- how much they want to spend
- how long they want to stay
- employment status
So rather than waiting for tenants to reach out to you, you can be the one to take the initiative and fill your empty property sooner.
The only downside is that, unlike Domain and Realestate.com, these sites don’t conduct background checks. So, you may be in for some lower-quality applicants. Just keep your wits about you and use our tenant selection guide while searching.
7. Thoroughly screen prospective tenants
As much as you might want to fill your property ASAP, you also need to make sure you’re not leasing it out to some unreliable characters. The last thing you want is to sign on a tenant only to have them leave a few months down the track. You’ll have to start your search all over again.
Some simple things you can do to vet prospective tenants are:
- Check their rental history
- Contact previous landlords
- Check the tenant database
- Verify proof of income
- Ask why they’re moving and how long they intend to stay
If you stick to this checklist, it should be pretty easy to spot any red flags. Remember, the goal is to find a tenant for the long haul, lest you feel the sting of the vacancy.
You can head to our tenant selection guide, where we provide some valuable resources and more detail about picking the perfect tenant.
8. Start looking for a tenant at the right time
So your tenant has chosen not to renew their lease, meaning you’ll soon be faced with a vacant property and a big hole in your bottom line. Understandably, the question on every owner’s lips will be: “When should I start looking for a tenant?”
The right time to look for a new tenant is a good mix of what the law says and what the market says.
Say you’ve already had a tenant in your property for a while, and they’ve come to you saying they’re moving out. In this case, you have to wait a bit before you can start finding tenants to take over the lease. It’s a bit annoying, we know, but that’s just how it is.
So, when should you start looking for a new tenant?
The best times to look for a new tenant are January and February, followed by May and June. This is because the most significant amount of leases end (think 12-month and 6-month leases). As a result, those are the year’s points where most tenants browse for new rentals online.
Apart from that, you want to have your property advertisement up 6-8 weeks before the current one ends. It gives you reasonable time to hold viewings without being so early that no one will be interested.
Just keep in mind that some states have specific legislation on when you can start looking for a new tenant. For example, in NSW, you can only hold viewings two weeks before the tenancy agreement ends, with reasonable notice.
By looking for tenants at the right time, you’ll get the highest possible amount of interest in your property and keep your vacancy rate at a minimum.
9. Get a property manager
A property manager lives and breathes real estate, so they’re well-versed in the art of advertising your rental property and finding good tenants.
Using a property manager, you get your property listed on realestate.com.au and Domain, which are the two best places to find tenants.
What’s more, is that they’ll be able to give you some good ideas and tips for improvements you can make to your rental.
All of this contributes to lower vacancy rates for you and higher returns on your investment property.
That being said, some property managers are a clear cut above the rest, so you need to make sure you get a good one.
Use our guide for finding a good property manager before you sign up with anyone to know the things to look for and questions to ask at an interview.