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Alyce Rollason and her husband moved back in with his parents at the age of 35 after receiving a 45 per cent rent increase on their St Peters rental home.
The couple were faced with paying $900 a week on their two-bedroom rental, up from $620. They tried to negotiate, offering $750. That got them nowhere, leaving them with no choice but to move back in with Rollason’s in-laws.
Alyce Rollason has had a 45 per cent rent increase which forced her from her inner west rental home.Credit: Nick Moir
“It’s not something I thought we would have done at the age of 35 and married, but that’s what we’ve done. There wasn’t any other option,” the hairdresser, who had lived in the inner west for 12 years, said.
“For us to save for the future, that would be impossible considering we’re both middle-to-low-income earners. If rents are nearly as much as having a mortgage, what’s the point?”
The pair are not alone as almost every suburb of Sydney recorded whopping rental increases in the year to September, the latest Domain Rent Report showed.
The biggest jump for house rents was in Clovelly, up 42 per cent to a median asking rent of $1875 per week. That was followed by North Curl Curl, Padstow Heights, Bellevue Hill and Kensington where rents climbed more than 33 per cent.
Unit rents rose across the city, led by Hillsdale where the median weekly asking rent jumped 44.4 per cent to $650. That was followed by Eastlakes, Kingsgrove, Turrella and Chester Hill where rents increased more than 35 per cent each.
Tenants looking for a cheaper deal than a year ago would largely be consigned to far-flung suburbs or the outskirts of the city.
Elanora Heights rents fell the most by 10.6 per cent to a median of $1073. That was followed by a string of Central Coast suburbs including Wyongah (down 9 per cent), Wamberal (down 6.7 per cent), Tascott (down 4.8 per cent) and Copacabana (down 4.4 per cent).
There were only three suburbs where unit rents declined — all on the Central Coast.
Domain chief of research and economics Dr Nicola Powell said while tenants may shop around between property types and suburbs, most of Sydney had recorded higher rents than a year ago.
“This is a broad-based lift in rental increases that we’re seeing. When you look at that vacancy rate… The only movement we’re going to see in rents is upwards,” Powell said.
Until more rental properties were added to the market to match growing demand, rents would continue to increase, she said.
“We’re likely to see rents continue to rise, but I don’t think we’ll see them increase at the same pace. But when you’ve got that vacancy rate at a landlords’ market, rents will rise.
“To get a balanced market you need a vacancy rate of 2 to 3 per cent, and it’s far below that.”
St George chief economist Besa Deda said it was unlikely the rental crisis would come to an end in the short-term and early indicators show it will get worse.
“There is a shortage of dwelling stock amid very strong population growth and building approvals have been weakening so that combination of demand and supply is out of whack,” Deda said. “Building approvals, which are an early indicator of what will be built, show residential construction will slow.”
As renters resort to moving, whether into a share house, back home or away to a more affordable suburb, the most vulnerable tenants in the city will be squeezed most, she said.
“If you’re on a low income or have insecure employment or unemployed it may be that you face more difficult pressures, and it could push some into homelessness. The imbalance in housing could contribute to a widening of inequality.”
BresicWhitney head of property management Chantelle Collin said most unit rents have recouped much of their pandemic-era losses.
“Particularly, the units, they were most impacted by COVID, they had rental reductions or abatements to have them leased,” Collin said. “A lot of those are recovering back to where they used to be.”
Meanwhile, a string of postcodes on the northern beaches had recorded the largest year-on-year rental increases due to increasing demand to live in lifestyle suburbs, Collin said.
Rental conditions would only tighten from here, she said, as demand grows and supply fails to keep up with it.
“There are a lot of investors exiting due to rising costs and rising rates, and there hasn’t been much development. So there has been a perfect storm where there is not enough supply.”
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