BENDIGO'S low vacancy rates may mean tenants are paying more, despite rents falling in other parts of Victoria.
Figures from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria show a $7 rise in Bendigo's average household rent from April to March. Rents dropped by $10 in Ballarat and stayed steady in Geelong over the same period.
Housing advocates say the tight rental market puts people into rental stress at the same time as many have lost jobs.
Anglicare Victoria regional director Francis Lynch said the situation created huge problems for renters on low incomes.
The latest REIV figures showed Bendigo's rental vacancy rate was below 0.5 per cent.
"There's been a really tight rental market in Bendigo for a long period of time now," Mr Lynch said.
"[People] who are on low incomes either on Centrelink payments, or are on minimum wage jobs, are just finding it really hard to access affordable property.
"When they find something, they're often well and truly over 30 per cent of their income on their rent. And it puts them into housing stress."
Mr Lynch said this stress meant people struggled to pay for food or bills when needed.
He said the financial strain could really affect people's family life and mental health.
Luke Goggin Real Estate senior property manager Emma Wilkins said rental demand had remained about the same during the coronavirus crisis, but more applicants were serious.
"We've been doing really well. We're still leasing, obviously not as many as normal, but we're still leasing in a reasonable time frame," Miss Wilkins said.
PRD Real Estate rental team leader Eboni Budde said the agency had seen a gradual increase in rental prices over the past 12-24 months, rather than a jump in any one month.
Ms Budde said the low number of properties on the market meant agents could ask for higher prices.
She attributed this to job opportunities for higher income earners in Bendigo, such as at the mines and the hospital.
Ms Budde said the price rise was good for landlords, but made it tricky for tenants.
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