Canberra's single mothers are being left desperate and pleading on the sidelines of the territory's rental market, as many landlords give preference to dual-income households.
Aged care worker and mother-of-two Melissa Millard has been rejected from more than 30 rental properties in the last 18 months: "They either haven't gotten back to me ... I haven't got it, or they don't send me the link to apply," she said.
The 24-year-old, who lives with a friend in Queanbeyan, moved to Canberra last year after selling her property in Bega. She says she has good references and gets an adequate income.
"There have been a couple ... where the house is really cold, there's no heating, and the walls are really thin," she said.
"But if my application got accepted for a house like that, I'd take it straight away."
Ms Millard's brother has started looking with the family in the hopes his added income will give them a better chance of securing a rental. It's two months in, and they've had no luck.
That bid is replicated in Chifley, where Uma Ramasubramanian intends to help her Sydney-based friend and teenage daughter crack Canberra's competitive market.
The woman has already started working in the national capital, but travels back and forth each day on the bus. Mrs Ramasubramanian has inspected more than a dozen rentals on their behalf, but wouldn't apply for rentals that had a turnout of more than 10 people.
"Just because there's no rental properties available, this is the plight that that family is going through," she said.
Until she recently secured a rental, personal trainer Natasha Veech faced a similar plight, having been rejected from 10 properties.
"It's hard being a single mum with a [six-year-old] son," she said.
"No one tends to want to rent to you ... I think it's because government workers probably get [places] first."
Vaishali Goel, who has a 16-year-old daughter, suspected her Indian background could also be a deciding factor for landlords.
"I did apply for this property and they came back and said no," she said.
"There is no reason for that to happen ... but probably they are saying that because I'm a single mother ... or [landlords] might be thinking, 'With that name, she must belong to a different ethnicity'."
Tenants' Union ACT executive officer Deb Pippen said while the union generally received calls from people who were already leasing properties, there was strong anecdotal evidence to suggest landlords' preference for dual-income tenants.
"That's the sort of thing that we know happens," she said.
"An agent or a landlord is going to probably be looking and saying, 'Well, I'll take a double-income household over a single-income household', or, 'I'll take someone on paid income over someone on any sort of government [benefits]'."
Desperate Canberrans were also more likely to accept "inconsistent" tenancy terms - meaning, anything outside what is generally in a lease agreement - or sub-par living conditions in rentals.
"The theory is that a tenant is given this tenancy agreement [with] additional clauses, and they're able to go, 'No, I don't agree to those clauses'," she said.
"That's the theory. The reality is, you're not going to say no - you want that property, so you're just going to agree to whatever is put in front of you."
Ms Pippen said the union had started receiving more calls from tenants about real estate agents treating them badly; but a lot of people didn't understand that they worked for the landlord, not them.
"A lot of people think, 'But they're supposed to be looking after me', and we have to say, 'No [they're not] ... the landlord is their client'," she said.
People were also hesitant to assert their rights when moving from one place to another in Canberra, Ms Pippen said, as they were aware of how hard it was to get another rental.