Tenants are being asked to pay up to $1000 a week just for single rooms in share houses as housing experts warn Sydney’s ongoing rental crisis is spiralling further out of control.
And it’s not just within the inner city where rents have hit exorbitant levels – a room in a share house in Western Sydney suburb Schofields is being offered for $800 a week.
It’s come in the wake of the fastest annual rises in rents on record, with rents for all categories of Sydney housing ballooning by close to a quarter over the last year – nearly four times the rate of inflation.
Renters were paying the stiffest prices in beach and Harbourside suburbs, but there were also parts of the west where rents were rising, including in Schofields, 50km from the CBD, where the $800 per week room was listed.
Up to 100 people have been reported at rental open for inspections.
The priciest room available on share house portal Flatmates.com.au this month was in a Pyrmont apartment with water views, listed for $1000 a week. Another room in the same apartment was $825 per week. The rent includes bills.
The exorbitant rents have followed a dramatic drop in the supply of available rental accommodation, with tenants competing for half as many vacant properties as they were last year, according to SQM Research.
The rental shortage was born in the early days of the Covid pandemic, when fears of a recession drove masses of landlords to cash out of their properties and sell them to homebuyers.
SQM Research director Louis Christopher said fears of shared living spaces being a breeding ground for the virus also encouraged more tenants in share houses to seek out their own properties to rent outright.
Further tenant competition has come from a sudden influx of returning expats and migrants seeking rental housing following the easing of border restrictions earlier this year.
Flatmates.com.au community manager Claudia Conley said there wasn’t enough share housing to accommodate all the people who needed a room.
“Many previous share houses are now owner-occupied, reducing share house stock, and the increased population across borders has added to demand,” she said.
Ms Conley added that further rent rises were likely.
“There are currently more people looking for rooms than there are rooms available. This means competition is high, which is driving prices up,” she said.
“The rising cost of living is exacerbating this … People may be choosing to enter share accommodation to keep costs low or due to strong competition in the rental market, they can no longer afford to live on their own.
“With international migration picking up and the rental market remaining so tight, its likely demand for (rooms) will remain strong. Without sufficient stock, prices may continue to increase.”
Mr Christopher said recent policy proposals to cap the rents landlords charged – such as The Greens’ call to put an “emergency freeze” on rents – would not address the root of the problem.
“It’s easy to point the finger at greedy landlords but we live in a market economy. They wouldn’t have been able to lift rents if there was more housing supply,” he said.