The great thing about renting, is the flexibility to choose where you want to live and the freedom to change your lifestyle as regularly as you like. This luxury can be severely compromised however if you inadvertently manage to get yourself onto the little-known tenancy blacklists. Yes, there is such a thing and you may not even know you are on one, until your application gets rejected over and over again. This would be extreme however, as in most states the landlord or property manager is obligated to advise you in writing that they intend to lodge a complaint about you with a tenancy database. Things have to be really bad for you to be put onto a tenancy blacklist, however there are a few key things – especially if you’re a first-time tenant that will definitely fast track you getting there – so pay attention and try to avoid these common mistakes.
1. Consistently late payments
If your rent is overdue regularly it will definitely be frowned upon by your agent. During your tenancy they will go through the usual procedures their agency has in place – emailing to advise your rent is late, calling etc but if you have annoyed them enough by doing this consistently, they may decide to warn future potential landlords by blacklisting you. Also, if you fall behind in rent and have missed 2 or 3 payments, this is definitely grounds for blacklisting. This can be dealt with, however, as usually a blacklisting can be reversed if you finalise the debt and pay the outstanding amount. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open about this with your property manager, as prompt payment and updating will enable them to remove you from the blacklist as soon as the debt is clear. Also – tenants regularly assume their bond is a pot of cash they can dip into for any old expense. This is NOT the case – the bond is a totally separate amount of money to rent and cannot be used to pay outstanding rent debts. Unless of course your bond has been refunded to you in full in which case you can then do whatever you choose with it.
2. Excessive property damage
Excessive damage does not mean scuff marks on the wall and a few scratches on the floor from dining chairs being moved regularly. That is wear and tear rather than damage and it happens when people live their day to day lives in a property. Excessive damage refers to things that are broken in ways that will be costly to repair, and that have happened outside the range of normal day to day living, or when damage was caused maliciously. The sheer scale of things tenants choose to do in a rental property is astonishing; domestic disputes that turn bad resulting in holes punched in walls, animals kept inside that choose a favourite corner as their permanent toilet, tenants trying to repair things themselves and making it worse in the process, children drawing on walls and carnage that can result from a wild party – the possibilities are endless when the property does not belong to you.
If you genuinely broke something by mistake then you should be responsive, report it to the agent and let them know you will pay for the repairs, so they know you are acting responsibly towards the property. If damage occurs and you are not sure if it is your fault or not, just call your property manager - that’s what your condition report is for after all! Your property manager can access a history of repairs that have been made to your property in the past. A jammed handle that needs force to be moved and then comes off in your hand may have a history of being problematic. Some landlords choose to cut costs and use cheap inferior quality fittings and fixtures that cost them more in the long run, due to repeated faults. If this is the case, make sure you take photos and make notes when things go wrong. If you get blacklisted for numerous breakages during your tenancy, and can provide evidence that it was not damage that could have resulted from your everyday use of the property, you may be able to defend yourself and restore your tenancy record.
3. Breaking the conditions of your lease
It’s amazing how many tenants only pretend to read their lease and then sign away without thinking, or sign on knowing full well they intend to break the conditions of it. If this is you, it does you an enormous disservice. Not only do you not learn what your responsibilities are, you also miss out on what the agent’s obligations to you are. Things such as having a pet without approval, using the property for illegal purposes, or moving other people in without permission, can all be considered lease violations. Understand the conditions of your lease and what each party’s obligations are and be sure that whatever you do is above board and does not compromise your standard as a great tenant.
If you have managed to do one or all of the above, you may end up on a blacklist quicker than you imagined possible. If the landlord does not advise you in advance, the hint will be if you keep getting rejected for properties over and over again. You can minimise the heartbreak a bit by doing an online Rent Check – there are lots of individual companies who offer this service, though most of them require a fee to do the check. You can also call a property manager after yet another rejection and ask for some feedback on why your application was rejected – if they know you have been backlisted, any agent worth their salt will tell you. Of course the best approach is to be a good tenant in the first place! And you thought getting your first rental application approved was the hard part.
DISCLAIMER: The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.