The modern rental market has changed a lot since the good old days.

Australia has always been the land of home ownership, unlike more rent-friendly continents such as Europe.

Once, the typical; Aussie renters were share housing students and young couples biding their time until they began working or had saved up enough to put a deposit down on their own home.

Of course, in days gone by, a single income was enough to pay off a mortgage and support a family of four or five.

Thirty years ago, the average house price was three to four times as much as the median annual income, while in 2015, that ratio has blown out.

In fact, in capitals like Sydney, a house is closer to ten times the average household income.

So it is little surprise that, whether by choice or necessity, renters have grown into a diverse group.

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We are seeing downsizers, older couples and single professionals, while share house types are no longer the old stereotypical arts student trying to start a band, but adults of all ages who cannot afford to stump for their own property.

There are benefits of renting. It is generally cheaper than paying off a mortgage and your landlord pays your emergency repair bills.

You will just have to get used to the idea of paying off someone else’s home loan and facilitating their equity gain.

But deciding to rent is only the beginning. It can be hard to find a place close to the city or a university, as such suburbs attract short term residents and plenty of competition.

Units near the beach are usually also snapped up quickly for the lifestyle.

If you’re flying solo, consider renting a studio apartment.

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These are small, affordable and in less demand than bigger apartments.

But if you can’t handle compact spaces, look at how you can win over a landlord.

First, steer clear of the market between January and March as the beginning of the year is when people start new jobs and move to new areas, so you’ll have more competition.

On the flipside, turning up on a day when everyone else is otherwise occupied, eg near the holiday period can mean you have a better chance of securing the rental.

I once rented a very nice apartment in a tough market by being the only one at the inspection just a few days out from Christmas.

Next, get your application and references sorted in advance so you can turn up to an open inspection ready to sign a lease.

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You don’t want to be up against someone who is ready to sign, only to have to go away and spend days getting rental references together.

The name of the game is ‘rental income’ as far as a landlord is concerned, so if you can, offer a few months’ rent in advance to show you are serious and financially reliable.

Finally, if you are happy to stay put for a while, offer to sign a long term lease, perhaps 18 months or two years. Landlords love the security and might even agree to lower the rent slightly for the peace of mind.

Tim McIntyre is the senior real estate reporter for the Daily Telegraph and News.com.au.

Over the past decade, he has attained widespread knowledge of Australia’s many unique property markets and is an authority on all things buying, selling and investing.

His commentary appears every Saturday in the Daily Telegraph Real Estate lift out, as well as online at news.com.au

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