With a spike in rental prices and a slump in availability, students are being knocked out of the SA rental market by stronger competition. (Image source: realestate.com.au)

By Lara Pacillo | @LaraPacillo

Students are being knocked out of the rental market by stronger competition amid the SA rental crisis of low property availability and a spike in costs.

According to State Government data, the number of rental properties being leased has almost halved in the past year.

In the final quarter of 2019 compared to that of 2020, the number of properties leased in metropolitan Adelaide dropped from 11,425 to 6395, while the median weekly rental cost hiked from $340 to $360.

LJ Hooker Flinders Park Senior Property Investment Manager, Lesley Tripodi, said this is due to a drop in availability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as landlords choosing to sell their properties.

“Tenants are not wanting to move out because of COVID-19. That scared them a little bit,” Mrs Tripodi said.

“Then you’ve got a lot of landlords that are selling because the housing prices are amazing at the moment.

“There’s less availability, so it’s creating more of a demand.”

She said the drive in demand is causing rent prices to spike, with an “unprecedented” increase in the number of applications for properties and crowds at open houses.

“Along with their applications, some people are offering to pay a higher rent than advertised in the hopes of securing a property,” she said.

Mrs Tripodi said the increase in demand is affecting low-income earners the most, including students.

“If you’ve got a larger amount of people looking then it’s going to knock students out, especially if they’ve got no rental history,” she said.

UniSA student Chelsea Shepherd is one of many students unsuccessful in finding a rental home.

She was hoping to move in together with her partner — whose family are living in Tasmania — and another friend to have more independence.

After 20 denied applications between December and February, they began to lose hope.

“It was exhausting looking for houses,” she said.

“Going to inspections and seeing 40 people lining up — it hurts.

“By the end of it you know you’re not going get the house. It’s super draining.”

Miss Shepherd said the situation is particularly harder for students.

“On paper, having three 22-year-olds students all look at a house doesn’t look great,” she said.

“Generally, students are a lot younger, between 18 and 25. Landlords are going to give their houses to families or people with full time incomes, rather than people working at a bar or cafe with jobs that are a little bit less reliable.”

Miss Shepherd said students’ chances of securing a property were lowered even further by those who could afford to pay more.

“We had friends that were offering to pay more money than what was listed because they thought that it would give them a better chance of getting the property,” she said.

“It worked for them; but for us it just wasn’t feasible.”

Miss Shepherd and her partner were lucky enough to have a backup plan to move in together with her parents, but she said not everyone has that same opportunity.

“Some students, say if they’re coming from the country, don’t have the opportunity to live with their parents in the city which makes it extra tough,” she said.

“There’s so many students who actually are forced to live in their cars because there’s no other option for them.”