Sharehouse listings and demand for share rooms has increased as Australians look for new ways to generate income and others seek cheaper housing options while faced with a cost of living and housing crisis.
Share accommodation website, Flatmates.com.au, reported “unseasonable” website traffic in October among home hunters that the business usually experiences in December when the peak summer period begins.
At the same time, new property listings on Flatmates.com.au jumped 9.7 per cent between September and October 2023, while there was an overall 38 per cent increase in listings over the past year.
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However Flatmates.com.au community manager, Claudia Conley said despite the increase in listings, there was still not enough supply to meet demand.
She said the latest data highlighted more Australian households needed additional income, while others needed cheaper accommodation.
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“We have people who may have left their traditional rental homes into share accommodation as a way to keep costs low to combat the rising cost of living and current rental crisis,” Conley said.
The cost of living and rental crisis has meant more people are interested in living in share houses. File image. Credit: Maskot/Getty Images/Maskot
“Then we also have a large contingent of people, mostly homeowners, who have suffered through many rate rises, and they’re now looking at their spare rooms, and they’re going, ‘You know what, I could actually be renting this out and earning an additional revenue stream from this to help offset my mortgage increases’.”
Conley’s analysis stacks up with data on rising inflation in Australia, which prompted the Reserve Bank of Australia to resume hikes to the cash rate this month.
Consumer prices, as tracked by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, rose 1.2 per cent over the three months to September.
The annual inflation rate grew 5.4 per cent but was reported as being well below the peak of 7.8 per cent last December.
Conley said share accommodation, which is usually a cheaper alternative to renting alone, was also becoming unaffordable in major cities.
“The median room rent for Australia is $290 per week in a sharehouse. That’s an increase of 16 per cent year-on-year,” she said.
“Sydney is our most expensive city, the median room rent in Sydney is $350 per week and that’s been a 17 per cent increase year-on-year.”
Demand but no supply
Flatmates.com.au found most of its top 10 most popular suburbs for share accommodation that had no supply were all in New South Wales and Perth.
The most popular suburb was Sydney’s beachside suburb of Clovelly, which had 516 people looking for a room in October, but not a single listing available for lease.
It was the same in Sydney CBD, where 139 people were looking for share accommodation, but no rooms available to rent.
“We’re not used to having this amount of demand in these locations and then having no supply available,” Conley said.
Flatmates.com.au found most of its top 10 most popular suburbs for share accommodation that had no supply were all in New South Wales and Perth. Credit: 7NEWS.com.au
But the shortage of accommodation is also an issue for the outer suburban areas, typically not as popular for renters compared to inner-city suburbs.
“A lot of people, because of rent rises, are looking to move further out to be able to afford a rental,” Conley said.
“In Melbourne, some of the top in-demand suburbs with no supply are places like Warangal, Dingley Village, Gardenvale, Dandenong South.”
The WA government has become the first to offer a $10,000 incentive to short-term rental accommodation providers to make their properties available for long-term lease to increase housing stock.
It will also require local government approval for short-term rental accommodation in the Perth metropolitan area if a property is un-hosted for more than 90 nights in 12 months.
Conley said state governments should also consider policy changes making it easier for people to rent out a room in their home.
She suggested a model similar to the Rent a Room Scheme in the United Kingdom, where homeowners can lease out rooms in their properties and earn up to £7500 a year, tax-free.
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