Before you apply for a rental property, think about and prepare all the information and documents you might need to give the estate agent or rental provider (previously called a landlord).
Remember, you may be competing with others for the same property so provide all the information the rental provider (landlord) will need to make a decision. It’s important to be honest in your application.
A rental provider or agent cannot charge a fee to show someone a property to rent.
On this page:
Other pages have information about signing a rental agreement and renter’s rights and responsibilities.
A rental property must only be advertised for rent at a fixed amount. It is unlawful to:
- advertise a property for rent with a price range
- request or solicit bids for rent.
Rental providers and real estate agents must not ask for or invite offers of rent higher than the advertised price. But they can accept a higher, unprompted offer made by a prospective renter.
Information and ID
The rental provider or agent is likely to ask you for formal identification, such as a driver's licence, as well as employment details and rental references.
Personal information you give the rental provider or agent may only be used to decide whether or not you are a suitable renter, or to comply with another requirement of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
The rental provider or agent cannot ask you for the following information as part of your application:
- whether you have taken legal action or have had a dispute with a rental provider
- your bond history, including whether you’ve made a claim on your bond
- a bank statement with daily transactions - you may need to provide a statement, but you can delete transactions that you feel are should be kept private
- if the rental provider asks you about personal protected attributes outlined in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (for example, ethnicity, gender identity, disability), they have to provide you with the reason for asking that information in writing.
The rental provider must also provide you with statement on discrimination as part of the application form so that you are aware of your rights. For further information, see Unlawful discrimination.
If you have never rented before, you will need to provide evidence that you are reliable and can pay the rent. This could include evidence of employment (such as an employment contract), payslips and character references. You may also be asked to provide a guarantor who will be responsible for paying the rent if you don’t.
The rental provider’s decision to choose a renter
A rental provider has the right to choose the person they think is the most suitable applicant for their property. They can decide based on a number of different things, including (but not limited to) an applicant’s rental history and employment status. However, it is against the law to refuse to rent a property to someone because of certain personal characteristics, including age, disability, race or religion. This is unlawful discrimination.
If a rental provider asks you about any of these characteristics, they must tell you in writing why that information is required.
The rental application form must include information about unlawful discrimination.
Generally, a rental provider or agent cannot refuse to rent out a property to someone because they have children aged 16 or under. The only reasons a rental provider can refuse to rent their property to someone with children is if the property:
- is the rental provider's main residence
- has a location or design that makes it unsuitable or inappropriate for children.
If a person has been told that a property is unsuitable for children but they disagree, they can apply to VCAT to make a decision.
- read through and complete the rental application form
- list all people who will be living at the property
- list any pets that will be living at the property
- include all details of your rental referees
- provide information about your employment
- include character references (if needed)
- ensure you can pay the bond (usually the same amount as one month’s rent) along with the first month’s rent – generally these need to be paid before you move in
- sign your completed application form, include all required attachments and send it back to the agent or rental provider.
A rental provider or agent may ask a potential renter for a ‘holding deposit’ before a rental agreement is signed.
The money must be refunded once both parties sign the agreement.
If they don’t sign an agreement within 14 days, the money must be refunded by the next business day.
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about applying for a property, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:
- Sections 29C–30A – Discrimination in relation to residential rental agreements.
- Sections 30B–30E – Disclosures and representations prior to entering into residential rental agreements.