Sophia’s Story

What challenges have you faced in finding a rental?

I recently returned from working abroad and was fortunate to be able to secure a place at Samaritans Student Accommodation. I considered trying to secure another rental with my brother who wants to move out – but there were too many challenges and it was easier to make sure that I had a safe place to live and then help my brother.

Do you think there is something in your local area that makes it particularly stressful to find affordable housing?

Age is definitely a significant factor- landlords don’t like renting to young people without a rental history and this puts people at a significant disadvantage and adds to housing stress and homelessness risk.

Casual work also makes it hard to secure a rental- and this is how most young people work to be able to fit in study commitments. Casual income is inconsistent– sometimes you have to take the shifts offered to get through the week and buy the food you need and that also makes it difficult to prioritise study.

Youth allowance only covers rent and the basic electricity and water. After rent, I usually have about $100 a week- you really have to consider how you spend this on food and petrol- most young renters have to work multiple jobs to get by.

Due to COVID-19, I stopped getting income 3 weeks ago. I am currently living off youth allowance because of my university study, and I’ve applied for the Job Keeper- that will make a difference, and while we’ll receive back pay, it doesn’t help the here and now.

Do you know others around you facing similar challenges?

Many of my friends and struggling with the same challenges of rental affordability- share houses are sometimes the only option but this doesn’t always suit everyone. Government support payments are not enough to get by.

What do you want your local community and local politicians to know about your difficulties finding appropriate housing?

It would be great to see government to assist in improving or advocating for the reputation of students when taking on new rentals- perhaps considering an incentive for landlords to take young people on so that they don’t end up experiencing homelessness or housing stress. Families always seem like the preference, but there are many considerate and responsible young people that also need safe housing options. We need more support to access rentals.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t prompted?

Can be stressful when you’re worried about study, renting and purchasing groceries each week- a lot of my friends living out of home experience stress regularly to just get through the week on really small budgets.

COVID-19 has seen many of my friends return to their parents- but this is not possible or safe for everyone. While university studies continue, work doesn’t and it has been hard to negotiate with landlords while undertaking mid semester uni exams to get a hold on rental payments.

Sophia has shared her story as part of the 2020 Rental Affordability Snapshot. Click here to learn more and read this year’s report.