The bond-free rental: how Build-to-rent is shaking up Australia’s rental market

Australia’s rental market is being shaken up by a new group of landlords who are building entire apartment communities from the ground up and offering major perks like bond-free leases, long-term tenure and lush amenities.

These new apartment buildings are part of the Build-to-Rent (BTR) wave that has swept across the country, however some of these new homes will cost you more to rent.

As the name suggests, these homes are built for renters rather than homebuyers, so there is a greater emphasis on fostering a lifestyle and community to keep renters there for as long as they can.

A range of BTR brands have burst onto the scene, offering different levels of services and amenities depending on your budget.

The bond-free lease has been one of the biggest gamechangers in Australia’s rental market, which is currently offered at Mirvac’s LIV apartments.

Renters can lease an apartment in the LIV branded buildings and skip the bond process altogether.

The LIV brand has two complexes up and running already, including the 315-apartment LIV Indigo complex at Sydney Olympic Park, which is almost fully occupied.

It also has the LIV Munro building at the Queen Victoria Market in the Melbourne CBD, with 490 units that are currently about 70% leased.

LIV’s Indigo apartment complex in Sydney is almost fully occupied. Picture Supplied.

Angela Buckley, fund manager – BTR sector lead at Mirvac, said the BTR sector aimed to bridge the gap between buying and renting in the Australian property market, creating a viable option for those who can’t or choose not to own a home.

“LIV, Mirvac’s BTR offering, provides security, connection, and community, but without the rental bond payment, without interest rate rise stress, and without the land or stamp duty taxes that all make purchasing a home unobtainable for many Australians,” she said.

Mirvac has about $1 billion worth of BTR properties currently under construction nationally, including two more Melbourne complexes and its first Brisbane complex.

Outside of the bond-free lease, there are a range of benefits for renters including flexible lease arrangements with long lease terms available and the freedom to personalise your space.

They are offering proactive maintenance programs, pet-friendly policies and some are even giving renters the ability to swap units in the same complex.

BTR brands are going big on amenities like gyms, pools, yoga rooms and other health and wellness facilities.

They are also creating spaces to live and work from shared outdoor spaces, BBQ areas and cinemas to communal working spaces to work from home.

Build-to-rent apartment complexes like the Home Richmond building in Melbourne are offering premium amenities like pools, gyms and more. Picture: Supplied.

Complexes are actively managed and offer services like concierges, add-on cleaning services and organised community events to give residents a chance to catch up.

Essence Communities, which manages the Realm BTR brand, said it created a genuine community with neighbours through events, a social calendar and special interest groups that were shaped by the residents.

The company said the sense of community was a critical component of the progressive lifestyle choices on offer in their buildings that were purposely designed for renters.

There are a range of BTR brands today that have buildings up and running or in the pipeline, including Home, Indi, Local, Greystar, Sentinel and more.

Mirvac’s Liv Munro building in Melbourne is about 70% occupied. Picture: Mirvac

How does Build-to-Rent work

Build-to-rent apartment complexes are designed and built by a developer who holds onto all of the apartments in the building once they are completed instead of selling them on to individual investors.

Alternatively, developers may build these apartments buildings on behalf of institutional investors such as superannuation funds, which hold on to them and rent them out to renters.

In Australia, the BTR sector is set to grow rapidly with about 50,000 apartments set to be built by 2030, according to Colliers estimates with the potential for BTR to also start delivering other housing forms by then that will further boost the supply pipeline.

The rise of BTR comes at a critical time amid Australia’s rental crisis, with the national rental vacancy rate sitting at a record low of 1.06% in September, according to Proptrack.

The Realm BTR brand creates a sense of community at its Realm Caulfield complex through events and special interest groups. Picture: Supplied.

Proptrack economist Anne Flaherty said renters were feeling the squeeze across the country, with rental vacancy down in both capital and regional areas.

Ms Flaherty said declining vacancy rates were increasing competition for rentals and placing growing pressure on rents.

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Advocates are quick to point out that BTR sector will deliver much-needed additional rental homes to the undersupplied market, although Colliers cautioned that it would still only account for about 1% of the total rental supply in Australia by 2030.

But Colliers’ Build-to-rent national director Robert Papaleo said the sector would play a significant role in building homes when others won’t.

Private investors tend to invest in rental properties during the good times and less so during the downturns.

“BTR has the potential to deliver supply more consistently through the peaks and troughs of property cycles because it isn’t reliant on the drivers behind private investment, which tend to be more cyclical,” he said.

Property industry groups are trying to attract more institutional investors to invest in Australia’s rental market and build more apartments.

Matt Kandelaars, group executive of policy and advocacy at the Property Council of Australia, said we need to encourage institutional investment to deliver housing at scale if we’re to have any hope of meeting our home building targets.

“If we’re to have any hope of meeting our targets, we need to encourage institutional investment to deliver housing at scale – including for high-community benefit housing types like build-to-rent, purpose-built student accommodation and retirement living,” Mr Kandelaars said.

“Not only do they add to the total housing pool, they provide housing choice and diversity to meet the needs of renters, students and retirees.”

One factor that looms over the BTR sector is housing affordability, with many BTR homes charging above-market rents currently.

LIV Aruna in Brisbane will feature 99 homes offered to essential workers at affordable rents. Picture: Supplied

But BTR brands are looking at ways to address affordability, including offering affordable homes in their buildings in exchange for subsidies and other benefits.

The Queensland government provided a subsidy to the LIV brand to include 99 ‘affordable’ apartments at its 396-home LIV Anura building in Brisbane.

Those apartments will be dedicated to essential workers at an affordable rent set at a 25% discount to market rents.

Ms Buckley said they hoped to work with other state governments to encourage more BTR projects with affordable housing.

“All levels of government need to work together, alongside industry and the community, on a coordinated plan and approach to help unlock a diverse range of housing across the country – we need all types of housing to solve this crisis – from build-to-rent to greenfield and infill,” she said.

Benn Dorrington

The bond-free rental: how Build-to-rent is shaking up Australia’s rental market –


Pre-settlement inspection checklist: our complete guide

As settlement approaches, discerning buyers inspect their new home to make sure there are no nasty surprises.

Pre-settlement inspections, as opposed to pre-purchase inspections, are to make sure the house is in the same condition as when contracts were exchanged.

6 Cook Street, Glebe, NSW

A pre-settlement inspection is a crucial step in the buying process. Picture:

What is a pre-settlement inspection and do you need one

Undertaken in the days leading up to settlement this is when the new owner(s) tour a purchased property to make sure it’s in the same condition as when they signed the contract of sale.

These are especially important if the property hasn’t been vacant since purchase as it’s more likely that there may be additional damage or wear and tear, above what may be reasonable.

Remember that settlement periods can be anywhere between 14 and 120 days, although between 30 and 60 is most common, so the property’s condition can change in that time.

Check with your conveyancer if you’re not sure what your settlement period is.

Importantly, this inspection is to make sure that the property is in the same condition as when contracts were exchanged – not better and not worse.

Buyers cannot demand that repairs are made on things that were broken during the first inspection.

If, however, the property is in a worse condition than when contracts were exchanged – for example, if there’s a new hole in the wall, broken window or burst water pipe – you can ask the vendor to make repairs accordingly.

If the vendor is doing a simultaneous settlement they may be in the process of moving out, so buyers should not expect the property to be completely empty.

When should you do a pre-settlement inspection?

It’s best to do this inspection close to when keys are handed over but with enough time (at least a few days) to allow for repairs, if necessary, as it may take time for the necessary work to be done.

Legally, each state has different rules regarding pre-settlement inspections.

Some, like Victoria, stipulate that buyers are entitled to inspect the property at any reasonable time during the week before settlement; others, like South Australia, stipulate that buyers are only entitled to one if they specifically stated in the contract that the sale was subject to one.  

However, whichever state you live in, you’ll be expected to carry out this inspection at a “reasonable time” during the week before settlement.

Who can inspect the property?

Buyers should undertake the inspection themselves along with a witness, such as the real estate agent, and organise the visit in advance at a time that suits the vendor.

It’s not legal to turn up without notice and demand entry to a premise that’s not yet theirs.

Three-bedroom house in Bondi

Buyers should conduct their inspections thoroughly, checking everything from light switches and air conditioners to door handles and locks. Picture:

What should be checked during this inspection

Things to check for during a pre-settlement inspection include:

Lights and electronics

Test each room’s light switch to ensure it’s working. If it doesn’t then be sure to follow up with the vendor to ask why.

Electronics that are attached to the house, such as CCTV, in-room speakers etc should be tested also.

Anything that’s not attached, such as TVs and un-attached speakers, will be moved out before settlement.


Turn on each tap and check that it’s operating as it was when contracts were exchanged.

Be sure that drains are clear and running free, if that’s how they were previously.

Water heaters

Test the water heater by making sure the hot taps and shower(s) are working normally.

Air conditioners and heaters

Be sure that each heater and air conditioner is functioning and has a working remote, if required.

Door handles and locks

Open and close each door to ensure they’re in working order.

Exterior door locks should also be functional if they were previously.


Appliances such as stoves and dishwashers come as part of the sale as they’re considered fixed to the premises.

Other appliances such as fridges, toasters and coffee machines are generally taken away by the vendor on moving day.

Ensure anything that’s staying is working as expected.

Curtains and blinds

Blinds and curtains are considered part of the sale so make sure they’re working as expected.

If they’re dirty or damaged (and they weren’t previously) then you can request they be cleaned.

Windows and glass

Ensure all windows and glass isn’t newly broken or cracked and that windows that have a lock are working.


Ensure that there are no new stains on the carpets or damage to the flooring such as cracked tiles or holes in floorboards.

The vendor isn’t under any obligation to steam clean the carpets, as some renters are required to do when they leave, but they should be cleaned to a reasonable level.

Pool and spa filters

Another ‘fixed’ item, pool appliances should be in working order if they were previously.

Check for pests

Check for evidence of pests such as mice droppings, possum damage etc.

Smoke alarms

Ensure the property has adequate smoke alarms and that they’re in working order.

General cleanliness

Ensure that all rubbish has been removed including from sheds, under the house and in cupboards and wardrobes.

The property should still be generally clean, tidy and free of additional damage.

Special conditions

If the conveyancer has negotiated special conditions on the buyer’s behalf then you need to be sure that these are met.

These could include removal of sheds, pest and soil inspection reports, ending tenancy agreements, inclusion of specific non-fixed items etc.

If you’re not sure about these then it’s best to speak to your conveyancer.

What to bring to a pre-settlement inspection

While it might be fine to turn up empty handed, depending on the complexity of the purchase agreement, buyers may find it handy to turn up with a few items just in case.

Contract of sale

You should bring the contract of sale with you, so that you can make sure the property contains all the items the vendor agreed to leave (inclusions) and is free from all the items the vendor agreed to take away (exclusions).


Buyers should also come prepared to take photo evidence of anything that needs attention so that they can be formally passed on to the vendor.

Three-bedroom house in Bondi

Buyers should make sure the property includes all the items the vendor said they would leave in the contract of sale (inclusions). Picture:

What happens if there’s a problem?

If you find something is broken or in a worse condition than it was during the first inspection, you should raise it with your conveyancer immediately.

They will try to negotiate it as a special condition on the contract, which means the vendor must fix it before settlement.

If it cannot be patched up in time, the sale price can be reduced to cover the cost of repairs.

You may be dying to move into your new house, but it’s best to stay clear-headed and carry out a pre-settlement inspection to ensure the property is in the same condition as when you first inspected it.

Alex White, Property Journalist

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