Uni student Ben Smithard in his temporary accommodation in Lismore.
Uni student Ben Smithard in his temporary accommodation in Lismore. Blainey Woodham

Struggle to find accommodation

WITH the university year about to commence, students have begun flooding into town to begin the arduous task of finding accommodation.

Following legislative changes last year stopping real estate agents from leasing individual rooms in the private rental market, the university has appealed to residents to consider taking on a student boarder or renting out a room.

First year environmental science student, Ben Smithard and four fellow students have been searching hard for a house since early December.

"We finally got accepted for a place a couple of weeks ago and we were supposed to move in today, but we've been mucked around by the owner who decided to put the rent up after we'd paid our holding fee," he said.

"We had been living in a private rental, which was absolutely horrible, but we got out of that.

"It's more difficult to assert your rights in the private market so we went with an agent - there were a lot of places on the market but many wouldn't accept us because we are uni students and aren't working - which is silly because with five of us we can afford it quite easily."

Southern Cross University's UniLife senior manager Erin Miller said she and her team were flat out.

"This is the busiest time of year for us leading up to orientation week," she said.

"It's not so much a lack of places as a having a suitable pool of accommodation with a range of styles to meet students' specific needs and preferences.

"We've had a very good response from the public, but we're still looking for more as there could be places out there with something that fills a particular student niche.

"There are still student offers going out and students coming on board who haven't started looking yet."

The university offers 372 on-campus rooms at three colleges in Lismore

"Coffs Harbour is now full but we still have some rooms at Lismore - but they do go quickly," she said.

UniLife has just activated a new website (scu.studystays.com.au) where rental providers can list their rooms or dwellings with photographs and a Google map function.

Residents interested in offering accommodation can also contact UniLife on 02 6620 3220.



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