A SHORTAGE of affordable rental properties in Bendigo for low income earners is likely to continue unless more higher density housing options are made available, real estate agents say. There are fewer than&nbsp;100 residential rental properties listed as available within the boundaries of Bendigo priced at under $250 per week. The properties drop off quickly below $200 per week, with just 14 listed in the greater Bendigo region. PRDnationwide Bendigo real estate agent Tom Isaacs said the rental market remained strong above the $250 per week mark, but it was rare to find many for less than that. “Rentals are regularly being moved between $250 and $350 mark,” he said. “A lot of rental properties are in line with their value. It’s rare to see houses sell for the $190,000 to $250,000 mark. “We haven’t seen a jump in rental prices at all.” Mr Issacs said greater density throughout Bendigo would create more rentals at the cheaper end of the market. “But the market is quite fair at the moment, it’s not weighted towards either end,” he said. Spending more than 30 per cent of your gross income on rent or mortgage repayments is considered unsustainable, studies in Australia have found. The maximum amount a NewStart allowance recipient can receive is $572 per fortnight. That figure is for a single person with a dependent. Haven; Home, Safe acting chief executive officer Niall Hensey said there was a noticeable shortage of available rental properties in Bendigo for people on low incomes. “In a recent survey conducted by Haven; Home, Safe, less than 1.5 per cent of available rental properties were considered affordable to people on single statutory incomes in Bendigo and district,” he said. In Victoria, 3.5 per cent of housing is available from social housing providers like Haven; Home, Safe and the state government. The last completed census showed 23 per cent of Australian households are living in private rentals. Mr Hensey said that figure was likely to increase as home ownership became more unattainable. “People are staying in the private rental market for longer, and the option of home ownership has significantly reduced for many people,” he said. “All of these factors put pressure on the availability and cost of private rental property.” In 2017, the state government has funded housing agencies to develop and provide a private rental assistance program, to work with the real estate industry to assist struggling tenancies. A City of Greater Bendigo residential strategy, completed in 2014, recommended moving away from low density housing in the city’s suburbs. The strategy was subject to a Planning Panels Victoria hearing, which granted its approval. In the strategy, it specifically outlines the issues of continuing to focus on the construction of stand alone houses, with Bendigo’s population forecast to grow significantly this century. “To ensure the success of the compact city model, the panel&nbsp;also recommends council thoroughly review the current zones, overlays and, in particular, neighbourhood character policies that promote low-density outcomes in locations which should be facilitating future infill development,” the report says.