Students in New South Wales feel the rental squeeze as vacancy rates fall

For thousands of students set to return to university by the end of February, tight vacancy rates are making the hunt for accommodation in Sydney and Newcastle even more urgent.

Students in New South Wales feel the rental squeeze as vacancy rates fall
With vacancy rates of 1% not uncommon in rental properties near the Universities of Sydney and Newcastle, returning students are facing stiff competition for accommodation.“A combination of persistence, punctuality and presentation is critical if students are to find a rental home. There’s no escaping the fact you have to wear out some shoe leather and inspect as many rental homes as you can,” said Angus Raine, Executive Chairman of Raine & Horne.“Treat an inspection with a property manager like a job interview. This means smart casual attire and clean shoes, rather than shorts and thongs.“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take Mum or Dad along to inspections. It might sound cheesy, but it often works.“Getting parents to countersign a lease agreement can also help, as this makes them jointly responsible for the lease, which will be a big tick with some property managers,” said Mr Raine.


The rental market in Sydney’s inner city remains tight, with vacancy rates well under 1%. The area is home to Sydney University, the University of Technology, and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA), a major teaching hospital.“We currently have 14 properties out of 1500 available for rent, with as many as 30 groups at inspections," said Gerard Hill, Co-Principal of Raine & Horne Newtown.“In January, we had 2,519 tenant enquiries. We are expecting similar enquiry numbers, if not more, in February, as new and existing university students flood the rental market in suburbs closest to the universities, such as Newtown, Darlington, Erskinville and Enmore.”  


In NSW’s second-largest city, Newcastle, vacancy rates within walking distance of the University of Newcastle in Callaghan are close to zero.“Accommodation near the university is being snapped up almost immediately, with some rooms being leased even before the previous tenant has vacated,” said Mecca Powell, Student Accommodation Specialist.“To be eligible for off-campus accommodation, tenants need a current student card, a letter of offer from the university or TAFE, and proof they have been accepted by the institution,” said Ms Powell.
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Tips to beat the rental squeeze in 2017

  • Treat inspections with property managers like job interviews.
  • Be punctual and present yourself professionally.
  • For younger people, it helps if Mum or Dad is with you at appointments and/or they offer a rental guarantee.
  • References from employers, university lecturers, school teachers, a family doctor or solicitor – and especially past property managers or landlords – are essential.
  • Take along ID such as your driver’s licence or passport, and bank statements.
  • If you’re offered a property, take it immediately or you could miss out.
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