Here are the general steps to rent a property in Australia that I learned lately. I think it should be more or less the same within Australia.
(1) Property Searching
The most popular one is "domain.com.au". I got mine here. You can also try "gumtree.com.au" but I think it is mostly unofficial - means somebody rents a property from the owner, and then he/she rents out a room to you for example. It is usually cheaper.
Note: A lot of applications (e.g. medicare, car license and etc.) require a proven residential address with your name. Especially if you're the first migrant here, my suggestion is better to go through the official channel, so you have the proof to show that you stay there.
(2) Inspection Appointment
If you are interested in a property, you contact the property agent to make an appointment for inspection. It is a requirement you must inspect the house by yourself.
I tried to negotiate with the agent before I came to Australia whether I can just rent the property by paying my deposit up front. The answer I got is "NO" and this is a policy that everyone must follow. :) So, you must physically present to inspect the property.
(3) Tenancy Application
If you have decided that you want to rent the property, you need to fill up an application form. This application form basically is sent to the property's owner for approval. This means the owner can choose his/her tenant and can reject or approve your application. This also means that you can apply more than one application. You can pull out anytime as long as you haven't signed the lease agreement yet although your tenancy application is approved.
One key thing here is "100 Point Identify Check" requirement. You need to have at least 100 points to prove your identify in this application. Here are the example (depends on the agency):
- Driver's License (40 points)
- Passport and Visa (40 points)
- Birth Certificate (30 points)
- Other Photo ID (30 points)
- Student Card (30 points)
- Medicare Card (20 points)
- Proof of Income (20 points) - Must
- Previous 2 Rental Receipts (20 points)
- Previous Tenancy Reference (20 points)
- Credit Card (10 points)
- Telephone Account (10 points)
- Gas/Electricity Account (10 points)
- Motor Vehicle Registration (10 points)
- Bank Statement (10 points)
Proof of income is a must. For my case I just show them my job offer letter. If you don't have income yet, I guess as long as you can show them your bank statement with enough cash, they will buy that (I think).
You also need reference in your application, try to find someone who stays there to be your reference. If you really don't have (better to have one), I think it is okay too. It is up to the property's owner actually.
(4) Lease Agreement
Once your tenancy application is approved, the next step is proceed to signing lease agreement. It has all the details including landlord/tenants information, leasing term (e.g. 1 year), rental price and payment method.
You're required to pay for rental bond as well (usually is 2 weeks). If your electricity & gas & water, and other stuff are included in the rent, it must be stated clearly there as well in the agreement.
A conditional report relating to the condition of your property must be done too before signing this agreement. Somehow my agent only did this after only I signed the agreement. That is not the right procedure but I just closed one eye.
(5) Collect Keys
Once you have signed the agreement and pay for the rental (including the bond), you can collect keys and start to move in.