Of the nearly 700 people currently looking to rent around Dubbo, many have voiced concerns around the requirement for online-only applications, stating they "compromise" their personal and financial details.
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During a tenancy information session at the Connecting Community Services in Dubbo on Wednesday, tenants Fe Balaba and Cathy Lambert revealed their concerns around all things online after they were among millions of Australians whose data with their health fund providers were hacked last year.
"There is no help coming to us, how can you guarantee our details are protected? That's why I am missing out on getting a place to rent," Ms Balaba, a Medibank member said.
"We are hacking victims and our identities are on the dark web, how can you help us?"
"Some of our personal information has been breached but thankfully nothing, except our phone number and identification number were taken [by hackers], and nothing has happened after that," Ms Lambert, an AHM member also said.
Medibank and AHM customers were outraged by the cyber incidents that had their personal data exposed to alleged Russian hackers last year.
Ms Balaba and Ms Lambert are both in contact with their health fund up to now to ensure the safeguarding of their personal and financial details after the data breaches.
Both women are among the hundreds of locals trying to get a home to rent as the crunch to get a suitable property becomes evident in the region, with only 151 available since the end of last month, according to the Real Estate Industry Association's latest statistics.
But they said their concerns over online-only applications pushed them back down the line of suitable renters despite having sound financial and personal standing.
"It's important they make changes because unfortunately, this is the current world we live in," Ms Lambert said.
SJ Shooter Real Estate managing director Laura Shooter was the resource speaker at the session and she stated the online application process is a requirement by a majority of agencies because it simplifies the process and efficiently allows them to vet suitable applicants.
"I am sorry to hear about your experiences, and I can assure you tech companies are working hard to crack the code, to deliver a good user experience and compliance," she said at the meeting.
"I cannot promise hand on heart that your information won't be compromised, as we are all continually surprised by the ingenuity of hackers. We take reasonable measures to protect our data, and we recommend that you only apply for the property you choose once you feel confident applying online.
"This may sound easy but choosing a suitable tenant is quite complex."
Real estate agencies in Dubbo leased 859 properties in the last 12 months, with a minimum 18 days waiting period between the time a rental property is vacated to be snapped by an approved applicant.
CoreLogic economist Kaytlin Ezzy said Dubbo's house market experienced relatively solid rental growth over the pandemic period, with rental values now 25.5 per cent higher than they were in March, 2020.
It has taken months for some tenants who showed up at the information session hoping to get help to find one.
Another tenant, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, said while he was hesitant to apply online due to rampant reports of online data breaches, his most immediate concern is finding a rental home after his landlord raised the weekly rent beyond his income.
The landlord has now approved another tenant and he is fearful the tight rental market around Dubbo will leave him homeless.
The CCS held the information session following findings of many potential tenants living and working around Dubbo and finding difficulties to secure a home in the local rental market.
Jenny Bevan is an advocate for people with disabilities, who are among the sector of tenants experiencing difficulties to find a roof over their heads due to their complex housing needs and health.
"Many of our clients need to be closer to the shopping centre and public transport due to their health conditions, are there ways to help them out because they are often behind in the pile of applicants," Ms Bevan said.
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