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It’s a tight squeeze in the city

Aun Ngo

Wed Apr 29 2009


STUDENTS are feeling the rental squeeze, as apartment vacancy rates dipped below one per cent in inner city Melbourne.

The February figures were obtained from the latest rental report released by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV).

REIV CEO Enzo Raimondo said the squeeze has caused rental prices to soar in the inner city, as vacancy rates have hovered at around two per cent in the last three years.

Monash University student from Singapore, Marcus Leong, 27, said the rising cost of rent has forced students out of the city to seek accommodation elsewhere.

“I have a friend who had to move out of his apartment because his rent jumped by $50 – $70 a week. He’s still looking for a place, and is staying on a friend’s couch,” he said.

Luckily for Mr Leong, he has been able to afford the rental hike on his two-bedroom apartment in Southbank.

“My rent has just gone up by $40 a week, it used to be just $400.”

“But the hassle of having to move and look for another apartment far outweighs the increase in rent. For now, I feel I can get by,” he said.

Students looking for a new rental apartment had to fork out 11.7 per cent more in 2008 compared to the previous year, figures from the State Government’s Rental Report show.

Median weekly rents are now $385 across Melbourne’s inner city according to the same report, which is based on statistics collected by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority.

Amanda Farquhar, an agent with Mondo Real Estate, said rental prices varied enormously in the city.

“An entry-level would be $350 for a one-bedder…and an entry-level two-bedder can be $450. It can vary greatly, depending on where they’re wanting to reside,” she said.

“Studio apartments can be slightly less, we have some studio apartments that are $300 – $320.”

Even with rising prices, demand for rental properties in the city has not eased.

“Sometimes it feels like you’re at a mini-auction…there’s certainly the demand, and obviously stock levels are not as high as we would want,” Ms Farquhar said.

Mr Raimondo said he hopes the shortage of vacancies will ease in the near future.

“We hope that the combined impact of the Federal Government stimulus package and commitments to speed up planning approval processes lead to an improvement in the availability of rental homes,” he said.