How to Secure Rental Housing in Perth

The Authentic Guide to Securing Rental Housing in Perth
Thusara Dharmapala
1 July 2013, 11:13pm



I am writing this in answer to my friend Nix's request that I document my recent adventures in rental-home hunting in Perth. 

When I first came to Perth in mid-May 2012, my immediate priority was to find a job, AND THEN, look for rental housing, in that sequence, so that I could bring my family over and have a means of income to support them, with a roof over our heads. I was very lucky that for the initial stage that a distant relative had offered me a room and board at his home whilst I job and house hunted. Thus, the urgency of looking for my own home was not an urgent requirement at the beginning.

However, after a couple of months of job hunting, I began to realise that landing a job was not going to be as easy as I initially thought, even though I had the skills and experience required for the many jobs that I applied for. Interviews were not forthcoming, as employers were looking for the unstated "Aussie Experience" in a candidate. I began to think that it was about time I started looking for my own place, as it was not fair to impose on my relatives for so long. I had honestly expected to have found a job and moved out on my own within the first month of my arrival in Perth. 

Thus, in mid-July 2012, I started looking through the real-estate websites and newspaper ads for likely houses to rent. I first based my search criteria on finding a house near to suitable primary school for my son. I had shortlisted a few likely primary schools based on their rankings. These schools were mainly North of the River, in suburbs like Dalkeith, Nedlands, Churchlands, Shenton Park and Claremont. These were very expensive suburbs to either buy or rent in. Whilst there were actual houses and villas available for rent for less than $350 per week South of the River, in the North only apartments and town houses were available.

Nevertheless, I shortlisted several by early August and started making visits to "house viewing" events arranged by estate agents. In the process, I found out a few things I previously had not known. 

A realistic account of the situation on the ground

1. Properties for rent are mainly organised by real estate agents. Owners do directly rent out as well, but these are few and far between. Even if a owner advertises by themselves, usually the actual rental viewing and document process is handled by an agent.

In order to rent a property, one must have first viewed the property (or at least get a proxy to do the viewing.) Without an initial viewing, the agents will not let anyone rent the property.

2 The agents generally arrange viewings soon after the property is advertised for rent (eg. or, or Quokka (newspaper). The viewings are usually organised between 3 to 5pm on weekdays, and last for between 15mins to 1/2 hour for potential customers to come and view. If you miss this opportunity to view, the chances of renting the place is almost nil. And sometimes, some of the viewings for different properties may be held at about the same time on the same day, so that one has to choose a particular place to view, rather than be able to view all the properties, as there would be little or no time to travel from one suburb to another to attend another viewing.

3. Perth currently seems to be suffering a derth in rental properties. This will seem apparent when you attend a particular viewing, as about 10 to 20 other interested parties will turn up for any particular viewing, especially if the rental price is between $300 to $400 per week. When you do get to view, you have a window of about 15 to 30 mins to decided if you like the place and make an offer. 

4. The agents will generally require you to complete a form with all your particulars, including some references, and require you to pay a deposit equivalent to the 1st couple of weeks rental. This amount and practice may vary slightly between different agents. Whilst there is a stated price, some agents give preference to those who offer a higher price than what is stated. So if the price is $350, and you offer a higher amount, perhaps, $400, you may stand a better chance of renting the property over the rest of the horde. 

5. Most of he agents insist on references, and most of them will call these references to check if you have been a good and trustworthy tenant before letting you rent the property. Thus, if this is your first time, it may be difficult to rent a property, as you have no prior references to speak of. It is quite a chicken and egg situation. You can't rent because you don't have references, and you can't get references because you can't rent!

6. Then, you may need to provide some proof of income, so your employer may be required to provide a reference as well. And if you don't have a job yet, refer to the chicken and egg situation in the point above.

7. After you finally manage to secure your rental home, do note that there will be quarterly inspections by the agent, and you are expected to abide by a whole set of rules, which may include no pets, no permanent fixtures, no smoking, cleanliness, etc. And the rental price may be reviewed every 6 months, and increased!

All the points above make renting in Perth sound very dismal. Unfortunately, this is quite the reality, based on my own personal experience. Of course, your own mileage may vary - and you could be having an easy time finding a home. All the best, and if you do, I would be very happy to hear that.

Some tips to alleviate the rental difficulties

1. It would help to have some local friends, who may be able to provide you with some personal references, and guidance. 

2. It would also help to have a bigger budget, as the main competition is for rental property below the $400 range, as this is the general price point for most immigrants who are trying to rent. If you can afford to pay more than $400 a week, you stand out from the rest of the rabble.

3. It would be helpful if you can show proof of income, or if you do not have a job yet, be able to show that you substantial savings in a bank account, that would give confidence to the landlord that you can pay for the period of rental.

4. Somehow, the landlords are reluctant to rent to families (perhaps they think kids may damage their property), so if you have no kids yet, it may be easier to rent.

Anyway, I managed to finally get my own rental home - it is a 2 bedroom apartment on the ground floor with its own courtyard, in the suburb of Mosman Park. It costs $350 a week (which is horrendously expensive, in my opinion), but it is relative near my work (about a 15minute drive), and walking distrance to my son's school, as well as relatively near the city (1/2hr drive or 20minutes by train). I think the landlord is going to raise my rent in a couple of months time!

Nix has also listed a host of other tips on his blog, which may provide some more ideas on how to go about landing a rental home.

See also: 10 Ways to Secure Rental Place before Migration to Perth


  1. Regarding rental rise:

    1. If you sign a contract they cannot raise the rental for the contract duration, but if you decide to let the contract lapse (and rollover as a ongoing arrangement) then they need to give you 4- 8 weeks of notice before the actual rent raise.

    2. The rise in rental is limited every 12 calender months between 0 -10 % of the original rent price depending on which state you are in. ie. If your rent is increased by 5% today, they can only increase the rent in the next 12 months by another 5% (assuming your state laws say 10%), but if they want to increase the rent by 10% on the 13th month you cant do anything but at least you should get the warning for 1 - 2 months.

    3. Whenever you rent you need to prepare an extra sum of money for the bond (in case you damage the property or dont pay your rent before leaving) roughly 4 to 8 weeks worth of rent

    4. Generally the rental period is either 6 or 12 months, the latter more common for certain states.

    If you google around you should be able to get both government advice and independent advice on the rights and obligation of the people who rent in Australia

    For example

    for WA

    for NSW

    for VIC

    These are very helpful and the independent website often offer advice about stuff that officially not suppose to happen like paying more than advertised to get the apartment but then there is always something called counteroffer.

    In the renters market with oversupply of properties, this particular property has been vacant for months and if you know the owners are keen and desperate you can offer 5 to 15% less than advertised price but you have to be careful, to sound reasonable since you dont want to be considered not a serious bidder. Often the price (for a property vacant for some time) has already been adjusted lower to attract more interest.

    Vice versa for owner's market. Sometimes it is cheaper to offer $10 to $20 more per week to get the property than to keep looking for another place to rent (sometimes the next suitable property for you only comes up a few weeks later and in the meantime you are paying for some expensive self-contained one bedroom apartment at $200 per day).

    Remember: for that $10 extra a week for a 12 months contract that only means $520 extra for the year, which you would have to pay for transport costs on travelling from a cheaper rental property further from your workplace. And then while you are look for the cheaper property you also spend some money and time travelling to inspect apartment and staying a hotel/ serviced apartment.

    Also SOME agents do not allow you to apply for the property unless you inspect the property (if you cant make it as a friend for a favour and get them to fill in the form onsite and hand it in if you want it badly). Even though you may have seen the property from the outside and through the window and walked around the area and really really want it they may not consider your application until you actually inspected it.

    Note that some states may have laws against counteroffers so check your local office.