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Australia rental crisis: Renters priced out by rising rent, cost of living

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An extensive study of Australian renters has revealed some alarming figures which suggest tenants are reaching financial breaking point.

The survey of 9000 renters found almost half had their rents increased in the last six months.

Thirty per cent said they had been pushed into shared living arrangements by rent prices and cost of living pressures in that time, while another 21 per cent said they were priced out of their own homes entirely by the added costs.

Another 30 per cent forecast the same fate for themselves in the near future.

The study by Flatmates, an online shared accommodation facilitator, found 62 per cent of respondents also introduced new house rules, like eating and cooking together, rules for heater usage, and working away from home to stay afloat.

With the data showing a large portion of renters struggling to keep their home as it is, for many, the current economic climate seems to have all but abolished the ability to save for a home of one’s own.

Thirty-four-year-old “veteran tenant” Matthew Rogers from Essendon has been living in shared accommodation for over ten years and faces that very predicament – but not through a lack of trying to purchase his own home.

He described efforts to save for a deposit as worse than an uphill battle.

“I feel like I’m pushing this ball up the hill, but it’s getting bigger,” he said.

“With all these costs and everything added, and I’m kind of falling back, the ball’s rolling back over me,” he said.

“It gets disheartening, and you almost lose hope just trying to save for that deposit.

Mr Rogers lives and works states apart from relatives in Queensland, meaning the option of crashing and saving at his family’s place is off the table.

Instead, he has to look for savings where he can.

He and his housemate are currently looking to rent out their study to ease the rent while adopting stringent power, water and gas limits for themselves.

“I’m really observant and cautious with electricity and what I’m using and if I can avoid wasting any,” he said.

“I’m just feeling the pinch even more than ever with fuel, car insurance, healthcare, phone bills – everything’s literally gone up.

“This is so common for people to say, but I haven’t had my wage go up a whole heap to kind of take into this consideration here.

“What I would usually be saving isn’t just really happening as much as I used to be able to.”

With little relief in sight, Mr Rogers says he’s “seen it all” over his years renting and has some tips for making a sharehouse work.

He said open communication between housemates and respecting each other’s way of living was key to a happy shared home.

The seasoned renter also recommended avoiding living with friends.

“As much as it sounds good, and you think it’ll work out, a lot of the time it doesn’t, and you’ll lose a friendship,’ he said.

Last week, the annual Rental Affordability Index damningly revealed Australians are being hit with unsustainable rent increases, with every capital city nationwide experiencing a decline in rental affordability.

It found nationally that over 30 per cent of a person’s income was spent on rent.

Lead author of the report, Ellen Witte, said the price hikes were extremely taxing for people on single-income budgets, including single parents and pensioners.

“The situation is particularly bleak because in the past low, income households if needed to, could still move to the regions, but often far away from jobs, so it’s not really a solution,” Ms Witte said.

“Vacancy rates for rental housing have dropped so sharply everywhere and is a key indicator for where prices go if they can see rates are low, they’re generally below one per cent.”

She said rental stress led to people having insufficient funds to pay for other primary needs such as food, medicine, transport and heating.

— with NCA Newswire

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