New South Wales’ tight rental market is set to contract even more in coming weeks according to a major real estate franchise.

As the start of the 2016 university year draws closer, real estate agents from Raine & Horne franchises are predicting competition for rental properties will soon start to heat up.

Grant Hill, co-principal of Raine & Horne Newtown, said Sydney’s inner west is already seeing  an increase in demand as tenants look for properties close to Sydney University and the University of Technology.

“We currently have six properties out of 1100 available for rent, with as many as 43 parties at inspections,” Hill said.

“We expect vacancy rates will be squeezed further as new and existing university students flood the rental market in February,” he said.

In particular, Hill said vacancies are likely to become scarce in suburbs such as Newtown, Darlington and Erskinville.

While the inner west maybe the first choice of many students looking for accommodation, Terry Brandtman, principal of Raine & Horne Randwick said landlords in Sydney’s eastern suburbs will find their properties are also attractive to students.

“Two-bedroom apartments in Clovelly, Coogee and Randwick rent for between $550 and $750 a week depending on the age of the stock, which compares very favourably to apartments in the newer developments in Waterloo, Alexandria and Mascot, where weekly prices can be closer to $850,” Brandtman said.

“Given Randwick's proximity to the city, the University of NSW and the beaches, many rental properties are tightly-held, as existing tenants don't want to leave for fear of paying more. However at this time of year there is usually some attrition with some people shifting outside the region and others looking to move to the area,” he said.

Competition for accommodation is also heating up in Newcastle, which is resulting in an increasing number of people turning to private accommodation.

“Anything in inner city Newcastle is being snapped up almost immediately,” Jason Maxwell, principal of Raine & Horne Newcastle said.

“We are seeing more students returning to the private rental market this year due to cheaper room costs and a desire for more privacy.”