Finding the perfect rental property can be time-consuming and daunting, especially when you are on a tight schedule or unable to attend in-person inspections.
The increasing popularity of virtual and online property tours has made this a viable option.
This article will explore this question and provide tips for those with difficulty attending inspections.
Virtual tours: A new way to inspect
Virtual tours are a modern alternative to in-person property inspections. Nowadays, real estate agents often offer online tours of rental properties, allowing you to view a property from the comfort of your own home. These tours typically involve a video walkthrough of the property, providing a 360-degree view of each room and highlighting the key features and amenities.
While virtual property tours can be very informative, they are not a perfect replacement for in-person inspections. For instance, it may be challenging to get an accurate sense of the size and layout of a property through a video, and you may miss out on specific details that would be noticeable during an in-person viewing. Moreover, virtual tours may not be available for all rental properties, particularly in more remote or rural areas.
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Why property managers prefer you do an in-person viewing
Heidi Sparks, Rental Department Manager at Nelson Alexander Real Estate, notes that many agencies share a policy of not approving applications without in-person property inspections due to potential risks. “Renting sight unseen is too risky,” she said.
For instance, the property may not be suitable for your needs, may have undisclosed damages or faults, or may not be in the location you want. Also, online property listings may not accurately represent the property’s condition, size, or features, which can lead to disputes between the tenant and the landlord.
To ensure that both parties are satisfied, physical inspections are the best way to go. This way, tenants can verify what they are getting, and landlords can be confident in their choice of tenant. If attending a weekday viewing is impossible, Heidi suggests requesting a Saturday open or asking a family member or friend to view the property on your behalf.
Renting without seeing it in person: Is it possible?
In short, renting a property in Australia without seeing it in person first is possible. However, there are a few things to consider before making this decision.
Firstly, thoroughly research the rental property and its location. Check out the surrounding neighbourhood, local amenities, and public transport options. Clear communication with the property manager or real estate agent is also essential. Ask any questions you may have about the property or the leasing process.
Secondly, it’s recommended that you have someone you trust physically inspect the property on your behalf. This could be a friend, family member, or professional viewing service. Provide them with a detailed list of your requirements and preferences, and ask them to take photos and videos of the property to share with you. You may also want to arrange a video call with them to discuss any questions or concerns.
Thirdly, be prepared to sign a legally binding lease agreement without physically inspecting the property. Breaking it can result in significant financial and legal consequences. Take the time to consider your options and make an informed decision.
What to do if you have difficulty attending viewings
If you cannot attend in-person viewings, there are a few steps you can take to make the process easier.
- First, contact the property manager or real estate agent and inform them of your situation. Ask if virtual tours or alternative viewing arrangements are available.
- If so, be flexible with scheduling, including arranging inspections outside business hours or on weekends.
- If you cannot have someone you trust inspect the property on your behalf, consider hiring a professional inspection service. Although this may incur extra costs, it can provide peace of mind and ensure that any potential issues are identified before signing a lease agreement.
What could happen if you accept a lease without viewing the property in person?
If you later discover issues with the property, there are two potential outcomes:
- either the owner will be legally required to address the issues; or
- you may have to live with them if you signed a disclaimer due to not attending the viewing.
Before committing to a lease, it’s essential to review the lease agreement carefully and raise any concerns with the property manager or landlord. If there are issues with the property that the owner is responsible for fixing by law, you can request that they be addressed, such as plumbing, electrical wiring, or heating/cooling systems.
However, if you signed a disclaimer stating that you applied for the premises without inspecting it, you may be responsible for living with any issues you discover. It’s important to keep this in mind when signing the lease agreement.
If you discover issues with the property after signing the lease, it’s best to notify the property manager or landlord as soon as possible. They may be able to offer solutions or assistance, but be aware that your options may be limited if you sign a disclaimer.
Attending a viewing in person is always best to ensure that the property meets your needs and expectations before committing to a lease. If you can’t attend an inspection due to extenuating circumstances, weigh the risks and benefits before applying for the property.
Rent.com.au is Australia's largest company dedicated to renters and is owned and operated by ASX-listed Rent.com.au Limited (RNT:ASX). For over 15 years, Rent.com.au has exclusively focused on making renters' lives easier by making it easier to find a property, secure it, move in and pay rent.