10 Tips for a Successful Rental Application

Our top 10 tips on how to successfully apply for a rental property will help put you ahead in what is becoming a highly competitive market.

With more Australians renting and vacancy rates falling, renting a property in Sydney or Melbourne can be a pretty aggressive game to play. The latest Australian of Bureau Statistics (ABS) shows we are becoming a nation of renters with the proportion of all households renting edging up to 31 per cent. An extraordinary 63.4 percent of these are aged under 35.


Stand out from your competitors with these rent application tips


Given the growing competition, it pays to be careful of the details and well-prepared with any rental application you submit. Follow our top tips below on how to apply and successfully win that rental property:

  1. Gather all supporting documentation: It’s important to have everything you need properly prepped before submitting an application. That includes such paperwork as a driver’s license or passport, visa if not an Australian citizen, payslip and tenancy ledger (if you have rented before). Have it all prepared in online friendly formats; or photocopied, stapled and ready in a folder to give to the property manager as soon as you can.


  1. Complete the application form: Request an application form prior to the inspection in order to fill it in beforehand, or find out whether you can apply online. It is better to be over prepared so make sure that you fill out the application form in detail including thorough references. Check and check again that you have filled it in correctly and answered everything required. Time is of the essence when applying, so if a property manager needs to follow up for more information it could be the difference between being approved and missing out.


  1. Add a rental application cover letter: Similar to what you would do in a job application, including a short cover letter with a couple of paragraphs about why you’ll make a great tenant may help your cause and allow you to stand out from the crowd. Mention who you are and what you do for a living – this personalises the application and builds good rapport with the landlord and property manager. Never underestimate the positive impact that a cover letter for rent application can have. Need some guidance? You can find tons of rental application cover letter samples in Australia online.


  1. Work together: If applying with a group of people, be sure to submit your applications at the same time. As housemates, you need to work together to make this happen.


  1. Be on time: Be there early or on time for the inspection, especially as there will probably be a sizable number of people already lined up outside. Punctuality is very important. Be presentable and polite to the property manager, ask relevant questions during the open.


  1. Mind the specs: Before making an application, be clear about the start date of the tenancy and the length required, e.g. 6 or 12 months. Also make special note of the property’s specifications, e.g. whether there is air conditioning or not, the specifications of each room (to make sure your furniture is suitable or your fridge fits). Think about whether this property is going to be suitable for you before you apply. Processing an application involves valuable time from a property manager; should you change your mind it may well be the same property manager in charge of the next rental you apply for.


  1. Submit without hesitation: Once you have inspected the property and wish to proceed with submitting the application, do it as soon as possible and if approved be ready with a deposit.


  1. Be contactable: Make sure you are available on the provided contact numbers and be prompt in returning any calls or email enquiries during the decision process.


  1. Don’t change details: Avoid changing your application details once submitted. Be sure to provide accurate information when filling out your application.


  1. Follow-up: If you haven’t heard anything after a couple of days, call or send an email to the property manager confirming your interest and asking for feedback. Showing your interest is important however appreciate that sometimes processing an application can take time.


So, you’ve found the property of your dreams; you’ve presented a cover letter for rental application, and you’ve done it in swift time. If you follow the rest of the advice above, you will be a step closer to winning that next rental property application. Good luck!



The first and most important consideration is to ensure that you aren’t making the realtor do any of the heavy lifting. Remember, they’re often sifting through dozens of applications on a given property, and they don’t have the time to decipher an application that isn’t well laid out. What we encourage you to include in your rental cover letter 

  • Clear signposts: Wherever possible, look for opportunities to eliminate the work it takes to find or quickly scan your application. For example, your header should read something like ‘Tenancy Application for (Listed Address)’.
  • A strong opening: Your opening paragraphs should dive straight in on detailing the positive attributes you and anyone applying with you will bring to the tenancy. Mentions of employment status, disposition, and understanding of the trust that the realtor and landlord are placing in their tenant are all good choices to include.
  • A brief detailing of the anticipated living arrangement: If you’re moving in with other applicants, it would be wise to briefly outline the nature of that arrangement.  This might involve stating whether or not you have lived with the other applicants before, or perhaps simply stating the nature of your relationship.
  • An acknowledgement of your responsibilities: Leasing a property out is fraught with all manner of risks. Taking a moment to outline that you understand the responsibilities and obligations you’re taking on in leasing the property will go a long way. Simple acknowledgements of the need to consider neighbours comfort, care for the property, and pay rent on time are all solid inclusions.
  • References: Reference documents such as a proof of salary, 100 points of identification, previous rental references. Many prospective renters will include documents such as a CV/Resume – this can be an effective inclusion for those who have made a career freelancing or contracting.
  • A quick thank you: Take a moment to thank the reader for their consideration and encourage them to reach out with any questions they might have about your application or interest in the property.

The leasing agent will have seen many cover letters before – and depending on the interest that the property is seeing, they will have potentially seen dozens for this one alone. While it might feel a little formulaic to meet each point neatly – this structure makes it quick and simple for the agent to check each box and proceed with confidence.

Remember, the task of the cover letter is to convey the important information. Details like spelling and grammar are important to get right, but you won’t be penalised for a lack of flow in your writing the way you might in other settings. Make it clear, concise, and hit these six points – and you’ll have a solid cover letter to show your prospective landlords and realtors.


Sample rental cover letter

To give you an idea for what your cover letter might look like, we’ve put together this sample. Note the detail and brevity of the letter and for a quick and easy version for yourself, simply adjust the details that are relevant to you. That process alone will give you a solid cover letter for your rental application.

Yours will look different based on your own circumstances and the property you’re applying for, but to help you get started, we’ve provided a sample cover letter for a rental application below. Feel free to copy it and personalise it to your circumstances. 

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name is John Citizen. To help you learn a bit more about me and my application for your property in Marrickville, I have attached this cover letter. 

I am an administrator employed full time with ABC Industries in Sydney. I have worked at ABC Industries since 2015 and am well regarded at the company – I consider my employment secure and my income stable. 

I have previously been living in Leichhardt but due to the property being sold by my current landlord, I am looking to move. Your property caught my eye because it offers me everything I’m looking for – easy access to public transport, close to amenities and convenient to my work. As for my personal life, I am quiet and respectful of others’ privacy, and have always had a good relationship with my previous landlords.

I understand that by entering into this tenancy, I assume several legal responsibilities. As your tenant, I am aware that I will need to:

  • pay the full rent on time,
  • not unreasonably disturb others,
  • care for your property, and
  • otherwise follow the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and the terms of my tenancy agreement.

Attached to this cover letter is a letter of reference from my property manager, as well as all required credit reports and financial documentation. 

I hope that you will consider my application. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


John Citizen


How to Win a Rental Application

A cover letter will not do all the work for you – but it will help you put your best foot forward in your rental application. Winning a rental application is all about making yourself the clear choice to realtors and prospective landlords. Eliminating the guesswork that comes with finding a well-suited applicant by signposting all the big touchpoints that they will be looking for.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I write a cover letter for a rental application?

Writing an effective cover letter for a rental application is all about convincing the property manager that you’re the most responsible choice for the property. Write professionally – but not overly formally – and rely on your past experiences and achievements to speak for you. Attach references from past landlords or your boss. 

What to write about myself on a rental application?

Your property manager is going to be primarily concerned with how you’re going to pay the rent and how you’re going to treat the property. Mention your employment – including how long you’ve been there and what industry it is – introduce any co-applicants such as a partner or housemate, discuss why you’re moving and include information about any pets if permitted and included.

How many payslips do I need for a rental application?

As part of your application, the property manager may request you produce payslips from work to show proof of income. The number of payslips required can vary with some property managers satisfied with one recent one. If you’re unsure, ask your property manager, but generally two or three should suffice to show a pattern. 

Why are my rental applications getting rejected?

Australia has a competitive rental market and rejections may not always be because of a singular reason. That said, factors such as a poor credit score, irregular income, a bad reference or being present on a tenancy database (blacklist) can affect your chances of a successful application.  

How long does it take to process a rental application?

How long processing takes depends on a range of factors such as how many applications were received, how busy the property manager is and so on. That said, for a rental property with moderate interest expect it to take between two and three days, with some taking up to a business week to process. 

What documents do I need to apply for a rental property?

Your property manager will specify the documents they require during the application process, but as a rule most require a copy of your identification, information about your rental history, rent payment receipts, employment details, proof of income such as a payslip and copies of your bank statement.

Cohen Handler offers a professional property management service with agents who are highly experienced in maximising the returns on your investment property. Contact us now to find out more information.

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