IT’S a tough time for people hoping to rent a property in Bathurst with less homes and units available now compared to 12 months ago, new data shows.
The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales's (REINSW) monthly Residential Vacancy Rate Report for January shows the residential rental vacancy rate across the Central West has dropped.
Bathurst has experienced the largest drop in rental properties, with vacancy dropping from 4.38 per cent in July last year to 0.86 per cent in January - a drop of 3.15 per cent.
This reduction means there are less available properties to rent.
Rental vacancies in Cowra dropped by 1.83 per cent during the six-month period - from 2.11 per cent to 0.28 per cent.
There were also less available properties in Lithgow, with vacancy rates dropping from 2.04 per cent to 0.37 per cent - a drop of 1.67 per cent.
Nobody wants to have a vacant property in Bathurst in winter because it'll sit there for months.Century 21 Bathurst director Troy Kearney
Timing is everything when it comes to vacancy rates in Bathurst and winter is traditionally a very difficult time to rent out a property, Century 21 Bathurst director Troy Kearney said.
"Nobody wants to have a vacant property in Bathurst in winter because it'll sit there for months," he said.
Mr Kearney said the problem with renting out a property in winter is so significant, that when a lease is drawn up the expiry date will often be lengthened so that it does not finish in the middle of this cold season.
On the flip side, he said January was always a very busy time for rentals in Bathurst due to Charles Sturt University and also new people moving to the city.
"Sydneysiders moving here at the start of the school year is a big thing," Mr Kearney said.
"We've had a steady growth of people moving here."
For those looking for a rental with so few properties on the market, Mr Kearney did have some advice.
"If you fill out an application make sure that you fill it out in full and include some great references. Great references will put you to the front of the queue," he said.
Fewer rental properties in Lithgow
Lithgow's rental market may be "tight" right now, but LJ Hooker principal Jamie Giokaris said that was not unusual.
"It is a tight rental market and it's a stable rental market," he said.
"Particularly for family homes it's really hard to find a place and there's competition on any available properties which is good for landlords."
With low vacancy rates competition for an available property has increased, but Mr Giokaris said tenants are not offering rent in advance at this stage to help secure a property.
"It certainly has sharpened up applications and the quality of applications," he said.
"Good credentials and good references are vital, you certainly can't leave gaps in your tenancy history."
Mr Giokaris the lack of available properties has led to an increase in rents during the past 18-24 months.
"There was a bit of an increase in the middle part of the market, properties around $350 a week," he said.
Mr Giokaris said Lithgow has become known as a place for investors to purchase a property because of the stable market.
"The best thing for every country town is to have a stable rental market so you don't have vendors under pressure to sell," he said.
Booming job opportunities lead to tight rental market in Cowra
Raine and Horne Cowra director David Fagan said he was not surprised by the data and that there were a number of factors behind the low vacancy rate.
"We have 240 properties that we rent and there's probably four or five or six at any one give time [that are vacant]," he said.
"Moxey Farm is doing well and K-Line [Agriculture] is doing a very good job as an employer and the abattoir is picking up.
"We're getting a lot more people come to town with permanent jobs and people wanting to buy and live here.
"There's a little bit of a push with people wanting to come out of the city."
Mr Fagan said while the lack of vacancies was great for property investors, it was a challenge for some renters.
"You can get a very good return, you can have a property for under $200,000 and get $280 a week in rent. We're fantastic in that respect," he said.
"You haven't got much choice [as a tenant], but we look after them and find them a place."