First-time tenants in the Illawarra have been hit hard by the rental crisis, with an increase in rental costs and a decrease in available properties.

University students have been particularly impacted, due to lack of rental experience and the inability to work sufficient hours to support themselves while studying, according to University of Wollongong student, Jessica Ind, who said that finding a private rental was extremely difficult and stressful.

“Being accepted was the biggest obstacle. As I had no previous rental experience, I was often the last choice in the rental process,” Jessica said.

“After many house inspections, we were finally accepted into a rental after a month’s worth of looking.

“But my rent is expensive, and every week that rent comes around, it stresses me out. It makes it difficult to get anywhere with my saving.”

The Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot (2023), revealed that out of 45,000 Australian properties, not one was affordable for a young person living on Youth Allowance.

Real estate agent at Belle Property Illawarra, Tonee Kisten, said that competition is fierce, with prospective tenants offering more money for rentals, and paying upfront, to appeal to owners.

“Not all young people are able to compete with this, leaving them potentially less desirable in the eyes of a landlord,” she said.

Sales representative at The Agency, Jennifer McCormack, agreed that there is no quick-fix for the rental crisis.

“The government needs to make a lot of changes so properties are made available for lease. A lot of young people will be living at home longer or in substandard accommodation,” she said.

“My advice is to present well at the inspection, and when putting in an application, make sure all documents are attached.

“Also, apply for everything that you can afford.”

Agents’ advice to Illawarra University students, is to be well-groomed at inspections, consistently communicate throughout the application process, and provide references where possible.