Sydney is not the only city suffering at the hands of the property shortage. Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of NSW show other university towns like Newcastle and Wollongong are also feeling the pinch.

According to the REINSW, the start of the university year saw vacancy rates in both Newcastle and Wollongong slip below 1 percent. March rental vacancies for the towns fell to a 0.9 percent vacancy rate in Newcastle and 0.7 percent in Wollongong.

Newcastle experienced a similar low at the same time in 2003, but the 0.7 percent rate is a record low for Wollongong.

It is a figure shared by the middle ring of Sydney -“ suburbs within 10 to 25 kilometres of the city centre -“ typically popular with younger tenants because they are close to the city’s tertiary institutions and have access to good public transport.

Scrabbling round looking for nonexistent property is not a good way for a young person to be starting out on their university life, REINSW president Steve Martin said.

However, it’s not only students who are facing the realities of a rental market that is tighter than it’s ever been. I’m told of a recent open day at a fairly highly priced townhouse where there were 60 would-be tenants lined up to see the place.

The comments we are hearing from property managers is that they have never seen the rental situation so bad.

Another problem for tenants is that because there is much greater demand for properties than there is available supply, rents are invariably rising.

Last year they increased 10 percent in Sydney and they are predicted to continue to climb.

Most agents have nothing under $250 on their books, which makes it very difficult for those on a budget, such as students, to raise the bond and afford the weekly rent.

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