‘Significant increase’ in share houses as Australians struggle with rental crisis

Hundreds of Australians are competing for just a place in a share house as the rental crisis continues.

Share house platform has seen a 140 per cent surge in membership in April and May, with almost 70,000 people joining the platform.

The near-record-low vacancy rates across Australia’s rental market are driving rents higher.

Flatmates said Perth’s east has a ratio of 255 would-be tenants for every room available, while Sydney has 133 seekers for every room.

“There has been a significant increase in demand for share accommodation across Australia over the past six months,” Flatmates community manager Claudia Conley said on Tuesday.

The figures come just weeks after Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe said those struggling with the housing crisis would likely consider finding a roommate to ease the rent squeeze.

“As rents go up, people decide not to move out of home, or you don’t have that home office, [or] you get a flatmate,” Dr Lowe said.

“Higher prices do lead people to economise on housing.

“Kids don’t move out of home because the rent is too expensive, so you decide to get a flatmate or a housemate because that’s the price mechanism at work.”

Double-digit rise

The pandemic saw many share houses across Australia break up as lockdown restrictions and lower rents – at least lower than today – made people get their own rental property.

But that trend has reversed with rapidly rising rents pushing people to room together.

Average rents have risen by double digits over the past year in major capitals, while vacancy rates are below 2 per cent in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth this year.

Ms Conley said the types of people looking to find roommates is changing, with younger people aged under 35 decreasing 10 per cent in favour of those aged between 45 and 65.

“For our younger demographic who have the option, many are choosing to stay at home for longer due to the rising cost of living,” Ms Conley said.

“Our older demographic may be looking to rent out their spare room for extra cash as the cost of living bites.”

The most in-demand suburb nationally for share houses is Perth’s east, followed by Northbridge in Western Australia, which has 164 listings per available room.

Sydney comes third, followed by Cremorne in Melbourne’s inner north, where there are 120 roommate listings per available place in a property.

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