Rental records: What is hidden in your rental closet?
This is one list you don’t want to be at the top of. A tenancy database is a private list that contains details of your rental records. This includes everything from meeting payments on schedule, to complying with the terms of a lease. So that raging house party you threw when you were 22 and your mate punched a hole in the wall? There’s a good chance it’s on there.
Most real estate agencies will subscribe to one or more of these lists that are populated and maintained by a number of private companies. The decision of who to award a lease to can and will come down to the information found from these databases.
What are the lists for?
Rental records keep track of renters’ history and are a way for real estate agents to screen prospective tenants. If you’ve never breached a rental contract, then it is unlikely that you’ll be listed. But if you haven’t stuck with the terms and conditions of any of your leases then you just might find yourself blacklisted.
What is a blacklist and why am I on it?
You may find yourself on a blacklist if you disrespect the contract or the property in the following ways:
- Not making rent payments. An odd late payment here and there is understandable, but repeat offences will land you a spot on the database, and place you at risk for your next property.
- Property damage. Homes do undergo natural wear and tear over time and this kind of reasonable deterioration is not the responsibility of the tenant. However, damages caused by neglect or recklessness are, and will anger the landlord.
- Using bond money to cover outstanding rent. This is not common practise but is a regular mistake with many renters. The landlord has the discretion to return bond only once they receive the full amount of rent, including the final payment. The bond money is a safeguard for the landlord, not spare cash for the tenant to use at will.
How do I know if I’m on that list?
A landlord must advise the tenant in writing if they intend to list them on a rental record database, or take steps to advise them when the action is impending. You may receive a verbal or written warning before it reaches this stage.
I think I may be on the list, how can I confirm?
If you are on one of these databases, you may find it harder to rent new properties. TICA, National Tenancy Database and TRA are the three largest lists in Australia – visit their websites to determine whether or not they have any information on you.