Anyone know the best way to go about finding a private rental (not through a estate agent) in Melbourne?
February 14, 2011 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Asking on behalf of my brother, who has just moved to Melbourne with his girlfriend. They are looking for a house to rent, and have been going through the usual real estate agents, etc. They were talking to a couple of friends of theirs, who were also looking for a place to rent, and who just found a private rental property (ie. through the landlord, not through a real estate agent) on Gumtree. My brother was wondering if there is some sort of website or centralised place to find private rental properties in Melbourne?

(In case it matters, both my brother and his girlfriend have lots of prior rental references, she is working, while he is a student but also works part time, they are in their mid-20s, so they shouldn't have too many problems renting through estate agents, but I think it's a little cheaper going directly through a landlord).
posted by Piroska to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the US & I put a sign up on the lawn. I don't know what it's like in Melbourne but most people in my area drive around in the areas they want to live and call the numbers on the signs. If I don't find someone that way I'll put a note up on craigslist. Looks like they have a craigslist "branch" in Melbourne.
posted by BoscosMom at 2:56 PM on February 14, 2011

In many cases landlords just use real estate agents to facilitate the rental application process and then tenants deal directly with the landlord during the lease, so I would continue checking the standard sources; gumtree and etc.

Most universities also have a rental accommodation databases which are often publicly available and listings are generally made by the landlords themselves.
posted by smithsmith at 3:01 PM on February 14, 2011

I think it's a little cheaper going directly through a landlord
I wouldn't count on that.

Welcome, Piroska's brother, into the world of pain that is private rental in urban Australia. Gumtree etc. aren't bad (as far as I know) for finding housemates and share house situations, but if your brother wants a lease of his own, he's going to have to join the market. is not bad to start with as far as listed properties from estate agents, and a few private rental arrangements. Signs for non-commercial lease are unheard of in any Australian major city (they're not needed). For rental properties, expect weekends of tracking around the city following advertisements, making applications, and don't expect every agent's entire rental list to be on the internet—they hold some back for people to come directly to them. The other thing to do—which has worked well enough for me in Sydney—is to start with a set of suburbs, list all of the estate agents in each one, and visit each one first thing Saturday morning asking for their rental list. This paper sheet is the most up-to-date document each one has.

Your brother will need the following information, and photocopies of the following documents on hand, if he's got them:

- Passport/driver's licence
- Last three pay slips
- Reference details for the last two places he's lived
- Reference details for his last two bosses.

A final note: be very wary of private-arrangement real estate scams on gumtree and if there's a property being advertised with notable features or significantly below market price, it may be a variation on the you-send-me-a-deposit-and-I'll-send-you-the-keys trick.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:21 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some other useful documents: the Tenants' Union publishes these fact sheets, and this (PDF) is a great guide to Victorian tenancy and tenant's rights, put out by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

The short of it: it's bad, but legal, in certain circumstances for landlords/agents to:
- Ask for "guarantees" of up to four weeks' rent upfront
- Ask for a deposit (to come out of the first week's rent) to receive a rental application
- Ask applicants to bid against each other (ie. "Could you go $15/week higher? I've got another tenant who can pay $x)

It's not legal however for agents to ask for non-refundable "guarantees" to secure a property (ie. a bribe). If he's asked for one your brother should go to the Police.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:51 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

No, I don't believe there is a decent central website. Speaking as a landlord in Melbourne, I'm pretty well grounded in the area.

Back in the day when i was a renter, the Uni noticeboards and some of the cafes near Melbourne Uni would have mostly share housing, but some complete houses. Student standard though. And more than a decade ago...

Your brother will have to go to the relevant real estate agents in the suburbs he wants.
posted by wilful at 5:42 PM on February 14, 2011 carries listings from anyone who will pay, so there are some private listings in there. and carry only agent listings. There isn't really a website just for private listings which I've heard of.

When I was looking a few years ago, I found both my private landlords in the newspapers on Saturday, they have a bunch small listings (2-3 lines) which were typically from private landlords.

You could also look on the side window at Readings on Lygon St, which always has some share places, rooms, and apartments/houses for rent, although they are student/alternative oriented.

If you're looking in the Brunswick / North Fitzroy / North Carlton area, sometimes landlords will put a "For Rent" sign in the window.

Otherwise, Fiasco is right, most people go through an agent and your best to pick up those photocopied listing sheets each Saturday morning.
posted by dave99 at 8:05 PM on February 14, 2011

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