Tough competition for CBD renting

By Sunny Liu

Renting in the CBD is harder than ever as international students vie for apartments to rent before the new university term starts.

Inspections numbers are at an all time high with as many as 100 people checking out one CBD unit, according to real estate agents.

Suzie Inglis, leasing manager at Hocking Stuart’s CBD branch, said February and March were the busiest months of the year for the CBD’s leasing market.

“It’s very competitive and many students are desperate to rent a unit before their university starts. And this year has been even busier than the previous years,” she said.

At a recent open inspection for a furnished three-bedroom unit on Little Lonsdale St, Ms Inglis said around 40 groups attended the opening and almost all of them were overseas students.

Ms Inglis said most of the aspiring renters were international students looking to secure tenancy in the north part of the CBD, particularly among high-rise towers along Elizabeth, A’Beckett and Franklin streets.

“I normally organise between three and four inspections for a property before it is leased. But around this time of the year the property is leased after just one open inspection,” she said.

Turnover is also very quick, with an apartment filled by new tenants just a few days after the previous tenants have moved out.

Ms Inglis said she had noticed many international students would be anxious to move in straight away.

“Many students were leaving things to the last minute and they could get a little panicky when they did not find apartments before classes began,” she said.

“Some of them would come to the inspection and say, ‘I can pay the rent and move in now’, but unfortunately we still need time to start the tenancy,” Ms Inglis said.

University of Melbourne student Yuri Ye has been looking to rent a two-bedroom CBD apartment with her friend for the past few weeks without much luck.

She has submitted applications for nine different apartments in the CBD, received rejections for three and is yet to hear from the rest.

“It’s very frustrating to think that I may not find a place before university starts,” she said.

Ms Ye said she was now applying to apartments that looked “alright” from the online photos without going to inspections to save time.

“There’s too much competition and it is looking more and more unlikely that we will get a place before March,” she said.

She said a friend of hers applied to some 15 apartments in the CBD but none of the applications were approved.

The CBD’s residential vacancy rate is at an all-time low, dropping from .26 per cent in November 2017 to .01 per cent in February, according to Hocking Stuart.

Property Council Victoria’s president Sally Capp said university students drove the demand for residential properties in the CBD.

“Melbourne’s world-class higher education offering continues to produce strong demand for residential rentals in and around our CBD. This is reflected in the growing number of student accommodation developments in the pipeline, and key vacancy indicators,” Ms Capp said.

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