Sydney’s rental crisis brings hundreds to inspections

One hundred renters at open homes, 12 months’ rent paid in advance and double digit price growth – these are the conditions Sydney renters are facing as a housing crisis takes hold.

Demand for rental accommodation has met with a shortage in properties in recent months, resulting in an uptick in rent.

This has made it more difficult for families to find affordable housing amid growing cost of living pressures.

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Data from SQM Research shows weekly rents on all houses across Sydney surged 21 per cent in the 12 months to May, while unit rents increased 13.5 per cent.

Sydney families are facing rent increases of 20 per cent. Picture: Justin Lloyd.

The increase in house rent is four times greater than the 5.1 per cent increase in the cost of living recorded in the first quarter inflation figures.

At the same time, the number of vacant properties on the market has almost halved, dropping from 23,000 last April to 12,700 in April this year.

Ben Pretty, co-founder of rental review site Rent Rabbit, said it had become difficult for renters to secure “affordable and stable” accommodation.

“A lot of landlords are just saying to our renters, ‘it’s just market conditions, there’s more demand, so therefore we can charge more’,” Mr Pretty said.

RentRabbit co-founder Ben Pretty.

Tenant’s agent Marcelle Wever said there was a severe shortage of properties in the “normal price range” of $600-$1300 for homes close to the CBD.

She recently saw a crowd of 100 at an inspection for a two-bedroom apartment in Mascot.

She said outer regions like the Hills District had become “hot property” as renters searched further afield for affordable housing.

Senior Property Manager at Richardson and Wrench Bella Vista Habib Ali said 30-40 groups of people were attending inspections for the “best properties” in Kellyville and The Ponds.

Rental property search agent Marcelle Wever inspecting a unit at Randwick in Sydney for a client.

He said it had become commonplace for applicants to offer several months’ rent in advance to secure a property.

He recently accepted an applicant who offered to pay the whole year’s rent of $39,000 before moving in.

“We had some that offered three months and so the other person offered the whole year,” he said.

In the inner city suburb of Paddington, houses were also attracting 40 groups at inspections, said Ray White Centennial Park head of property management Firas Halwani.

A crowded rental inspection in Surry Hills. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper.

He said it was common to receive 15 applications for the most popular homes.

“All of these places lease for more than the asking price. They (renters) are willing to pay what they think it’s worth,” he said.

Sydney mum Jackie Carter said looking for a house in the Northern Beaches was “incredibly stressful.”

“You are going to look at places with a million other people and everyone is scrambling and offering more money,” she said.

Striking a conversation with a property manager helps to put a face to your name.

“Every application I put in would be denied.”

Anna Tsitses and Georgie Larsson felt the sting of multiple rejections online before deciding to strike up face-to-face relationships with property managers.

As a result, they were able to secure a semi in Avalon.

“Giving them a face to our names and talking to them about what else they had available – it meant they could tell us about new properties that came on the market,” Ms Tsitses said.

“It definitely benefited us.”

Sydney renter Anna Tsitses with her daughter, Ava. Picture: Justin Lloyd.

Tenant’s agent Marcelle Wever’s tips for a good application:

1. Give strong evidence that you have paid your rent or home loan repayments in full and on time

2. Remember agents assess affordability based on whether the rent is less than one third of the applicant’s income

3. Offering rent in advance isn’t always an attractive proposition to landlords as it may create tax implications.

4. A strong application is key – offering more than the asking rent should never be a first strategy

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