Renting for the first time? If you’re starting to apply for properties but don’t have rental history to back you up, here’s how to show you’ll be a great tenant.

First things first: Don’t stress. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Whether you’re saving up for a house deposit or you enjoy a flexible lifestyle, you may find yourself renting for the first time.

If you have not rented a property in Australia before, you may feel a little stuck without references from a former agent or landlord.

Thankfully, there are several ways to demonstrate your good character and financial skills in your first rental application. Here are a few to get you started.

Show you can pay the rent (and have good payment history)

Prove you have good financials
You don’t need to have rented recently (or at all) to provide proof of regular payments and that you can manage your money. Print out a bank statement that shows payments you have consistently made on a car loan, payment plan or mortgage. Even if the best option you have is payments made on your mobile plan, it still shows payment consistency over time. An agent/landlord wants to know that you have good financial habits and will appreciate you going the extra mile to show them this.

Are you currently renting? It’s easy to show off your good history of paying rent on time. Provide your next landlord/agent with your rental ledger (or tenancy ledger). If in doubt, ask your agent for a copy.

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Provide a guarantor, just in case
A guarantor is someone who can back you up in the event something goes pear-shaped with your tenancy. In most cases, a guarantor will be your parents. They’ll need to complete an application form, provide identification and proof of income because they’ll be equally responsible for looking after the house and paying rent. If you decide to add a rental guarantor, mention on the lease that they won’t be living at the property. This could go a long way to improve your chances of application success.

Show proof of income
Income is possibly one of the biggest factors an agent will consider when reviewing rental applications for a property. Provide copies of your payslips with your application that show you earn enough each week or fortnight to cover regular rental payments. The general rule of affordability is to ensure your rent doesn’t cost more than about 30% of your total income each year.

There are always exceptions, and if you’re able to show how you spend your money each week, this may be enough to get you over the line. End of the day – the harder you try to prove your trustworthiness and responsibility, the better your chances of securing your next rental lease. Property managers use a 30% formula when they look at whether you can afford the home you’ve applied for. If your rent is $300/week, you would need to show a regular net income of about $1,000/week. ($300 = 30% of $1,000).

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Offer to use direct debit
Many agencies will ask their tenants to use a direct debit payment system to pay their rent, but it’s not usually required. One way to improve your odds is to offer to pay your rent through direct debit. Committing to automatic payments shows you are more likely to pay your rent on time – and this is one of the most important competencies for agents and landlords.

Tip: If some (or all) of your income comes from Centrelink, you can still use Centrelink’s automatic-payment system as a direct debit.

Show you can look after a rental property

Neat freak? Ask someone to vouch for you
Finding proof you can look after a property as a first-time renter with no rental experience can be tough, but it’s not impossible. If you’ve recently sold your house, provide a number for the agency you sold your house through. They can explain to a prospective agent/landlord how well presented the house was for viewings.

Do you have a former housemate or long-time friend who has spent time at your place? Ask them to vouch for how well you look after your home and garden. A previous boss or colleague could also attest to how well you looked after your workspace in a verbal or written comment.

Are you currently renting? Get a copy of previous routine inspections or references from your agent/landlord. These reports are invaluable because they identify how well presented your house was for inspections during your tenancy.

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Character references will go a long way
When you apply for a rental property, you’ll encounter a step in the rental application that asks for references. It’s common to be asked for a reference from a previous agent/owner, but if you haven’t rented before, you can still demonstrate your trustworthiness and responsibility in other ways.

Choose co-workers, employers, coaches or mentors. These are the ideal people to tell your potential landlord/agent what you would be like as a tenant, based on their experience working with, coaching or mentoring you. These are good references because they’ll help demonstrate the characteristics of someone who would show great behaviour during a tenancy.


  1. Can I be the only person on the lease but still put my partner’s income and my income from Centrelink on the application form? Thanks Jenny