EUROPEAN rental service Nestpick has officially launched in Australia, making it easier for students to access affordable accommodation. But with more international students choosing cheap rental housing in outer city suburbs than ever before, the company has reignited issues of online security in the rental market. Rowan Forster has more.
Leaving the comforts of home and finding a new place to live in an unfamiliar country can be daunting. That is the reality for many international students looking to study abroad, only made worse by the rising cost of living.
Now, a European start-up company hopes to make it easier for students and young professionals alike to find and afford properties.
Nestpick is a platform that aims to make students’ move abroad easier by allowing them to complete a rental transaction process online. The company recently launched in Australia and currently boasts 20,000 properties across Victoria and New South Wales that can be rented with the click of a mouse by anybody in the world.
Already offering a huge range of rental options in many different countries across Europe – from cosy private rooms in a shared student flat to modern studios – Nestpick targeted an Australian expansion due to the high number of international students studying here.
“Australia is a crucial market for us. It’s a huge opportunity to reach all of those students and young professionals who are still looking for their new home,” Nestpick founder Fabian Dudek said.
Close to 250,000 international students were enrolled at Australian universities last year, with around a fifth of these coming from countries where Nestpick also offers housing such as the UK, Germany, and France.
Up to 80 per cent of those 250,000 students are hunting for cheaper housing options on the private rental market, according to a report backed by University Colleges Australia.
Dr Ian Walker, the co-founder of the study, told The Age that many foreign students are having to choose between expensive student housing with limited support services, and substandard housing.
“For far too long, rental agencies and brokers were controlling the rental market and dictating how we rent worldwide. We have been challenging the status quo in Europe and we are happy to extend our model to Australia,” Nestpick co-founder Patricia Moubarak said in an official statement.
However, committing to a property from overseas does come with risks.
What students should be mindful of when renting online
Nestpick’s company policy prohibits tenants from visiting properties prior to booking them – so the customer has no choice but to trust that photographs of housing properties are accurate and verified.
Nestpick spokesperson Vivianne Ianagui said that misleading photography is not an issue with many of their properties because of the company’s verification system.
“Most of our properties are verified, which means that our photographer went to the property and took pictures. This way we ensure that the nest is exactly as it looks like in our website. If you see a ‘verified nest’ label it means that it already went through this process,” she said.
Furthermore, Nestpick is unable to guarantee that overseas tenants will have chemistry with the housemates they move in with. Because tenants are unable to view the housing prior to booking, much of the roommate search comes down to a luck of the draw process.
That said, the website does allow students submitting booking requests to tell the ‘nest provider’ about themselves. This information is forwarded to landlords and roommates to give them better scope in making a decision about the student.
Unfortunately for the student, there is no way to get to know potential roommates or nest providers other than what is outlined in the property description.
The rental service also only offers dollars and pounds as their currency options, so while people from all around the world can use the service, many will have to convert the currency themselves.
However, that may soon change. Nestpick are currently working to develop a currency conversion tool that may be released in the next quarter. The company have global aspirations for the reach of their housing properties.
“Moving beyond Europe’s borders is a natural move for Nestpick in our path to revolutionise the rental market on a global level,” founder Fabian Dudek said.