house, keys, key

How to rent a house in Melbourne the first time

Getting a rental property in Melbourne is totally different from what we were used to in the Philippines or in Singapore. In Australia, the rental application process is heavily regulated and very structured. For first-time renters or newcomers like us, it came as a surprise that the search can be competitive too; we have to make formal applications along with other interested tenants. It was similar to looking for a job, you can safely say.

So what is by standard the rental application process in Melbourne? It may apply to other states in Australia as well but I may not cover their special cases, so only Melbourne it is.

How to rent a house in Melbourne in 7 steps

1. Decide which suburb to live, your preferred number of bedrooms, and your budget

‘What are your preferences?’ plays a very major role in making decisions in different aspects of renting a property in Melbourne.

Practically, the main factor is the suburb! Which suburb do you see yourself living for the next few years of your renting life? Needless to say, those suburbs closest to the city attract higher rental fees. And also, each suburb entails different lifestyles. Deciding which suburb to live is an ultimate personal choice.

Other things to consider are the:

  • number of bedrooms
  • type: apartment, condo, townhouse
  • proximity to public transport
  • proximity to schools
  • proximity to the workplace
  • garden space
  • parking spaces
  • heating and cooling system
  • of course, budget!

If you have school-aged children, consider proximity to schools. And most importantly, learn about school catchments. If you want your child enrolled in a particular government school, your house’s location is the first deciding factor whether you can enrol or not. They go by school catchments or within 2 mile radius zone.

Learn about how education system works in Victoria (Melbourne) here.

2. Search for a property online

Once you have outlined your preferences, it is much easier to target a certain property online using your trusted computer. But even if you haven’t, Domain and RealEstate websites can help you navigate through a list of properties in every suburb and filter your preferences.

What I truly appreciate in both websites is their Map feature. It exactly shows the location of any property so you can easily see if it’s near public transport, schools, or any landmark.

3. Attend the inspection

For every property, there are corresponding schedules to inspections that you can attend. That means you cannot simply knock into that property and expect someone would answer your rental inquiries. Everything is discussed through a real estate agent or commonly called property manager. It is very rare to have direct communication with the property owner, landlord, or caretakers.

When you do attend inspections, make sure to be on time as it can only last up to 15 minutes. Bring your ID. And make sure to sign your name on the property manager’s list of attendees as a proof that you have indeed attended the inspection. Why is this important? It is because you cannot apply for a property if you have not attended any of its inspection.

4. Gather the required documents and submit them to the property manager.

Each property manager has their own set of required documents. But the main rule is that you reach at least 100 points. This means that each document has a corresponding number of points.

Point system in required documents

Sample points system is as follows:

  • Driver’s License 50 points
  • Passport 50 points
  • Copy of Mobile Phone Account 20 points
  • Copy of Medicare card 20 points
  • Copy of gas/ water/ electricity bills 10 points

The property manager can ask for other special documents such as payslips, rental history records, and so on.

Crafting a convincing cover letter

Aside from gathering these various documents, it is common to include a cover letter. This is where you introduce yourself, show your interest in renting the place and anything that you want to tell the property manager or the landlord. There are other interested applicants for the property, so might as well, write a convincing cover letter.

Submission of requirements

Submission of requirements is mostly done online. Some property manager has their system in place via their websites. Some simply accept it through emails. Make sure to have a high-quality printer and scanner then!

Background checks

By the time you have submitted your application, the property manager will begin making a background check and contacting your character references. So make sure to tell your character references that they may get a call anytime.

Waiting period

Response to your application may take up to one week or as quickly as the next business day. If you have not received any response, it is most likely that your application was not approved. But hey, you can always follow up!

5. You get approved!

Congrats! After some time searching, attending inspections, and applying, you have finally secured a place to rent.

By this time, you should agree on a move-in date with the property manager. Take note that on the exact move-in date, the rental fee starts ticking in. So even if you have not physically moved into your new place on that day, you will be already paying for the rent.

IMPORTANT: By this time, you should also start looking for service providers for gas, electricity, and water. And internet service providers as well. Your new house won’t have these by default.

Do you know that you can get $50 from the government just be getting your power assessment. Click here to start your assessment.

6. Sign the Tenancy Agreement, pay bond, pay the advance rental fees, and get the keys

To finally secure the property, you must go to the property manager’s office, read (carefully!) and sign the Tenancy Agreement, pay the bond, and pay the advance rental fee. Others can simply do all these online. Check with your own property manager.

As for getting the keys, you can only go to their office and get them personally.

7. Move into your new home!

Start packing your bags and move into your new home. Upon arrival, make sure to fully inspect the property, take high-resolution pictures, and complete the Entry Condition Report.

Welcome home!

TIP: Read this comprehensive guide for tenants provided by

How about you? How was your rental application experience?