FOR a young Warrnambool professional, finding a home to rent seems impossible.
He and two friends have applied for more than 15 properties in the city in the past few weeks and been knocked back for every single one.
They are being evicted from their current Warrnambool rental after the owner said they were moving back in.
The trio are not alone as the city faces an ongoing rental crisis.
The current vacancy rate in Warrnambool is sitting at 0.49 per cent.
There is less than 25 rental properties available in the city.
27.63 per cent of Warrnambool's population - around 8195 people - are living in rental accommodation.
"We were told about a month ago we had to move out of our house in Warrnambool because the owner is moving back, which sparked the start of looking for a house," the Warrnambool renter, aged 24, said.
"It's been difficult to say the least, we've applied for 15 and been rejected for each one, it's awful.
"You just keep scrolling through real estate websites trying to find anything you can.
"We've been applying and asking different people for any advice to find a way to get a house but the market is so flooded."
Some of the applications were rejected before the trio even inspected the property.
The three men all work full-time in a corporate setting in the city.
"We had a feeling it was because we're males, I think the demand is so high that families and couples might seem like a better choice than three males in their mid-twenties," he said.
"In some cases we haven't had a chance to look at a property at all.
"We've been sending emails asking when the inspections are, then finding out it's been taken or that our application has been denied, and sometimes we don't hear back at all.
"Last week we were given 60 days to find something, we have no idea what we'll do if we don't find anything.
"We're just hoping we get a home and are trying to stay positive."
In regional Victoria the proportion of affordable rental availabilities has plummeted, decreasing by 34.6 per cent in the December quarter.
On share house website flatmates.com.au there are only 10 rooms available for rent in Warrnambool but 28 people looking for a room to rent.
New renting rules came into effect last month.
They include new minimum rental property standards and allow renters to make simple modifications without seeking permission.
Landlord Jack Muscat has an investment property in Warrnambool and rents closer to Melbourne for work.
As both a renter and landlord he understands the limits and benefits of the latest rental reforms.
"As long as the tenants have a regular income and a history of looking after properties well, I don't mind who they are," he said.
"I was personally looking for someone keen to stay a long time, whereas there's a lot of landlords that look for short term leases so they can claim a lot of rental increases.
"I just locked in another 12 months with my tenants and didn't put in a rise because they're good tenants; they pay on time and I figure the extra $10 or so a week you could make on a rent rise isn't worth it when you have tenants that are happy and want to stay."
More than 130 reforms are being introduced.
"It's true that a lot of the new minimum standards and reforms are going to benefit renters, but most of those changes are going to increase the capital of the house if anything," Mr Muscat said.
"Things like repainting the walls - as long as the colour isn't too bright - and hooks on the walls, that's all going to be a good thing.
"I think it does sway toward renters a lot but that being said, I'm a renter and it gives me more rights as a renter in my property in Melbourne.
"Realistically without these reforms I have minimum rights and that makes you scared to rent.
"As a landlord if you don't care for the house you don't care for the tenant, and that's not a good thing."
The median rent in Warrnambool for houses is $380 per week, an increase of 5.55 per cent from last year.
The median rental yield is 4.71 per cent.
Stock on the market for houses has dropped 53.54 per cent compared to last year and the average time to sell a house is 138 days.
The median listing price for units is $317,000 marking a 24.80 per cent change over the past year.
Brian Hancock is a director and senior property auctioneer at Brian O'Halloran & Co Real Estate Warrnambool.
He's been selling residential, commercial and rural real estate in the area since 1981 and says the market is the tightest he's seen in 40 years.
"A lot of people are missing out on properties, it's all based on the merit of the applications," he said.
"Everyone's got to understand we're in a tight rental market, we could have 30 applications for a property and that's why properties are going so quick, it's all supply and demand.
"With new tenancy changes we will see an exodus from a lot of landlords who have older-type properties, a lot of things will come into play.
"I think down the track there will be a fair margin of investors who will say it might be time to sell our investment property, which is going to create a further shortage of houses. It's going to compound.
"It's through no fault of the person applying for the property, there's just a massive amount of interest for any property that comes onto the market now."
Mr Hancock said more social housing needed to be provided in the region.
"Even with the sales and rental applications it's the tightest it's been near on 40 years.
"If you don't look after investors you're not going to get them to invest in properties, affecting the supply of housing.
"The state government needs to do more social housing.
"At the end of the day it's a juggling act between investors, tenants, government departments and agents but what we're seeing at the moment is it's enormously tight in both sales and residential tenancy."
Rising rents and a housing affordability crisis has led to more than 2500 households accessing homelessness services in the south-west in the past year.
The high figure has led to calls from local agencies for a commitment from local, state and federal governments to increase investment and provide 6000 new properties a year.
In the south-west there are over 880 households already on the waiting list for public and community housing, according to the DHHS Victorian Housing Register.
There are 492 households on the priority waiting list for social housing in the south-west.
The state government has so far failed to provide details on how $25 million set aside for social housing in Warrnambool will be spent, months after it was announced in November last year.
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