If you’re renting today, there’s a good chance you’re under what’s known as ‘rental stress’. In fact, a lot of Aussie renters are struggling to make ends meet.

The vast majority of Australian tenants say they are paying more than a third of their weekly income in rent, a new Rent.com.au survey has found.

rental stress

By RENT.COM.AU

The Rent.com.au Rental Affordability Survey of more than 2,000 renters across Australia in April revealed that 53 per cent of tenants reported spending one-third to a half of their weekly income on rent. Rental stress occurs when a person pays more than a third of their income on rent.

More worrying is that, according to the survey, 30 per cent of tenants are experiencing extreme rental stress by paying more than half of their weekly income on rent. Some tenants (23 per cent) said they had previously been late in paying rent due to financial strain.

One participant in the Rental Affordability Survey, Stefanie, from Redfern, NSW, works full-time as a legal secretary and spends more than a third on her income on rent.

“I moved from Perth to Sydney last year for work and the rent is ridiculous, particularly up here in Sydney where everything is more expensive. It’s so terrible I have had to have a discussion with my employer about trying to meet all my financial obligations,” she said.

The Rent.com.au Rental Affordability Survey also found that:

  • 60 per cent of tenants thought their rent was overpriced for the property / area they lived in, while 36 per cent thought their rent was fair and 4 per cent considered it a bargain.
  • 59 per cent of respondents said they would move to a new house if their rent was raised at the end of their current lease, while 31 per cent said they would try to negotiate but would likely accept an increase, and 10 per cent said they would accept an increase without question as “rents are expected to rise every year”.
  • The majority of respondents (70 per cent) said they were renting because they were unable to afford a house, while a growing minority (13 per cent) said they were happy renting and not interested in owning property.

graph - rate the amount of rent you're paying

Another survey participant, Hollie, from Sydney, NSW, said the Sydney market was appalling.

“I work more than 40 hours a week, am trying to study full-time and make something of myself – and yet all my money goes towards bills. I am constantly financially stressed with no hope of travelling anytime soon. I don’t live a lavish lifestyle and rent in cramped shared accommodation. I’m not sure how renting in Sydney is sustainable – I’m struggling so much, along with a lot of young people I know – and no one seems to care.”

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Elliot, who works full-time running a childcare centre in Hervey Bay, QLD said renting is tough for young people today.

“I’m 25 years old and pay $230 each week for a run-down unit far from the town centre. $230/week is about the lowest rent available in my area. Even though I’m working full time and in the highest position possible at the childcare centre, I can barely afford rent. The cost of living (bills, food, petrol, etc) and rent on top is almost unbelievable.”

graph - increased rent

Is there evidence of a more financially irresponsible generation?

The Australian national accounts compiles the spending habits of Australians and a measure of ‘household final consumption expenditure’ – data that goes back to 1959. The results show a ‘snapshot in time’ look at the spending habits of the average Australian household.

Today, housing costs take up more than 20¢ in a dollar spent, a cheaper food only 10¢. Households today spend more on education and health, but far less on cars, household goods and clothing. In 1960, the biggest component of household spending was on food – it made up around 20¢ of every dollar spent.

The share of spending today that goes to cafes and hotels has also dropped from figures in 1960, dropping to $7 for every $100 spent down from $9.

graph - percentage of income

Leases and living arrangements

More than half of the Rent.com.au survey participants (60%) said they had been in their rental property less than one year. Only 17% had been in their current rental for more than 3 years, 13% were in their second year and just 10% 2-3 years.

Of those surveyed, 34% said they were living in their rental with their family (partner and kids), while a quarter were living alone. Just 20% live with their partner and 9% in shared accommodation.

 

Where do you sit on the rental stress issue? Let us know in the Comments below >>

50 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t believe the prices of rental homes. Why pay so much for a run down house in Sydney? $450 is the cheapest and you get it dirty and low on maintenance. At least have some kind of check of the property before they lease it for safety and security.

    • $400/week in Mullumbimby, and that is cheap & hasn’t been raised in 4 years ($5oo minimum now), & my landlords are selling. I work casually in school hours for the minimum wage and get about $200/fortnight from Centrelink’s ‘Newstart’, which barely pays my rent, let alone bills or food … welcome to the new Australia, mate. Work yourself into the ground just to keep your children from being homeless. Odd

  2. We have half of my income going to rent, the rest to bills and basic food. We moved states and are now having to dig into our savings to survive. The condition of rentals doesn’t help either, with no/poor insulation, no solar panels and poor quality stuff that breaks. Tenants are too scared to ask for repairs so just pay out themselves. I agree about the stress and yes, it goes deeper than just the amount paid on rent. And we don’t have smashed avo for breakfast either.

    • My heart bleeds!!! If you can afford to own an investment property on top of your own home, then go cry on someone else’s shoulder. I am a Disability Support Pensioner with severe arthritis, unable to work, but wish I could. Lost my own owned home due to financial loss and now rent with my son. It costs us more than half of our weekly income and our lease is up next month. Expect a raise. Don’t know how to make ends meet. So, sorry, three are just too many of us out there who can’t afford our rent, let alone the costs associated with an “investment property”!!. In today’s market you are miles ahead!!!!

    • It is ridiculous the cost of owning a property. Renting the property out you hardly make ends meet, it somehow just doesn’t add up.
      But renting is worse, yes, worse.

      I have owned a property that I rented out & only JUST was able to make up the difference between costs of ownership etc. I NEVER made a cent on the property as I had to continually repair a very old building. I finally sold it due to how much it cost me & other more personal reasons… & now I am a renter once again. I pay around 2/3 of my income on rent. It is ridiculous for the quality of property that it is. A dump really.
      When I lived in my own home, my outlay for the year was MUCH less than what my rent is for a year. Even when doing maintenance, it was cheaper to own my own home.

      I don’t know what the answer is.
      You can’t make rents cheaper because that would mean landlords would be out of pocket. They would end up paying the tenant to live in the owner’s own property.

      So how do we fix the problem?
      Well, the costs to the owners should be remedied by the government, after all, it is mostly governmental costs that make it so hard, & therefore more expensive for the tenant. It is also the fault of the real estate industry, where they have also made costs to the landlord exorbitant.

      There is no easy fix. Does this mean that we shouldn’t try? …NO… There needs to be a more concentrated effort by authorities to fix this problem. Instead of PRETENDING to be concerned & pretending to do the RIGHT THING by this countries citizens…

      • Thank you. It is weird that not many of the people who responded to the above survey said that they paid 70-90% of their income on rent, which is the norm for anyone relying on any kind of government financial ‘support’. So dumb – just goes straight to the land-owners, all these billions of government dollars. Think it over. It is meant to buy our children shoes, food, etc, but, nope – rent is the priority.

  3. I am a full time carer of my son who has a disability.
    I pay a lot for rent and barely make it through the week. Im constantly asking for payment extensions on my bills. There should be more Govt support for renters on a low income or benefits. There is no public housing available so Im forced in to the private rental market. Its incredibly stressful.

  4. We have 6 of us living under one roof due to medical reason and one in a wheelchair just try to find a house that is wheelchair friendly is impossible then when we do find a wheelchair friendly home the rent is over $750 per week and we dont even live in sydney

  5. Absolutely Rent.com.au – Thank you for making this public. Rents are completely unaffordable now for the average person. Women 55-70yo are joining the homeless at the greatest rate. it used to be if you couldn’t afford the city you could move out to the country but now, because a lot of city people are buying investment homes in the country rentals have gone up from $200pwk to $320pwk for a house in a small country town where you can’t see a doctor. even an hour away, the doctors books are closed against new patients.

    The town I used to live in had water problems and so you had to bucket water into the toilet in summer. Rents are high everywhere now. What can people do but share? Even share houses are expensive.

  6. I live in Cairns, having recently moved here from the UK. I rented a 2 bedroom house, with garage in the UK for 12 years and paid roughly $150 a week. This is because the private housing market has to stay roughly inline with the Councils rents. Here i am shocked that the least i would pay is a third if not half of my weekly wages for somewhere decent to stay. With the ridiculous cost of food and energy on top as well as fuel and insurance, our bills far outway one persons salary.

    As Dave pointed out, try being a landlord? Well i have to say surely you did your figures before becoming a landlord? If you are looking to make a quick buck by charging excessive rent, you will find you will only have short term tenants, because they will quickly learn that they are going to work, only to put a roof over their head and not to live. Landlords must price their properties for the long term good tenants, after all they are looking after one of their greatest assets.

    If they have mortgaged the property to the hilt and expect the tenant to pay, then sadly their property is going to be stood idle more than tenanted. Nothing is going to change, unless the government step in and puts steps in place so that tenants get repairs carried out within 30 days, 24 hours if emergency, make the landlord liable if he does not comply within the given time frames, after all they quick enough to collect our money and moan if it late. But it going to be hard to buy your own property when, companies and private landlords are buying the properties and keep pushing the housing market up, so here we go again on the merry go round.

    • Well, you didn’t mention the additional cost borne in the UK by tenants, did you? Tenants in the UK pay council rates on top of the rent.
      In 2010 I lived in Manchester for for a bit. It cost $1,000 a month for a room in a 5 bedroom house. If we have the system they run there, people will be in the streets…

      • LOL. Well, they obviously saw you coming. The highest band now in Manchester is 3004.24 pounds per year and this is seven year later? Today’s value a 5 bedroom house in Manchester (rightmove.com) 700 PCM (sterling). Even with the highest band, that would only equate to 190 a month ($380 max) for 5 sharing. If you were paying what you stated, then you obviously did not do your homework. Only in London would you be paying that amount sharing – and only then if you were in the M25 circle. That’s because wages in that circle are paid a lot higher.

        • Well said Tracy.
          Dave is clearly a disgruntled Landlord here… and knows everything. Even about rent in England! Lucky you can afford to travel and be a Landlord Dave.

          • Not a disgruntled landlord at all Medievalmum. I have been a land lord since 1988. I have had numerous properties over that time in various locations. Made a lot of money from my investmentsand yes one of the perks of having money from time to time is travel. Lucky, not a bit, worked hard for what I have.

        • That’s if you rent a place then get 4 others in. A furnished house with TV licence, internet, Pay TV, power, gas, water and council rates covered on your rent it was $1000 a month per room as a boarding house. Plus being a non resident meant a lot would not rent to us.

  7. I am a single mum in full-time employment and paying $450 a week in rent.

    This equates to over half my wage in rent and once my other bills are factored in, I have nothing left at the end of the week, it’s impossible to get ahead.
    Housing in my suburb (I believe) is well overpriced, even a small unit would cost me $400 to $410 a week.

    The struggle is so real for many and myself included, going without many things is the only way I can get myself and my daughter by. I think it’s time the government gets real about this situation.

    • And don’t even get me started about Fathers not ‘declaring’ their income, whilst they live on organic produce and their child learns to live without, while the other parent can’t even work enough hours to pay the rent, it is a pretty weird system …

  8. It’s very hard especially as a single person. I’m in my mid 30s and have been in and out of sharing homes, and so over doing all that now. So I have a old, simple one bedroom flat in a block of units with no luxuries (no ac, heater, dishwasher, etc) within it.

    I pay close to half my wage per month on rent and that’s about the cheapest I can get within Melbourne. I am very careful with power and refuse to heat or cool unless I absolutely need to. That’s if layers of clothes and blanket aren’t working. Anyway, I am very careful with all my bills, and if anything happened I’ll be homeless very quickly. I don’t own a car either and so I cycle everywhere to get about or use public transport. So I can’t live beyond transport boundaries. It’s really hard as work cant give me any more hours, nor will government give more pay, and so I end up between a rock and a hard place just to survive.

  9. I live with my ex partner and share a rented house as neither of us can afford to go our different ways. We are both on the aged pension with no savings due to a previous bad judgement which cost us our savings. I do not blame the government for my predicament but am at the point of almost begging for an increase in rental assistance or only disaster could come from both our situations. (Living on the edge of a cliff with an earthquake threat).

    We pay over 60% of our combined pension and would dread having to forfeit the security of our environment purely to have a roof over our heads as neither of us would be either physically or emotionally equipped. Perhaps the government would be better off, in the long term, by making renting more affordable than first home buying which would help both the young and old.

  10. With my wife out of work while she is looking after our new born baby we are trying to survive on one income. I have a good job with reasonable pay and I’m renting a tiny little house in Cairns but I am just over half of my pay on rent which makes it hard to make ends meet. It’s the rental trap! I feel that I am never going to save up enough money for a deposit on a home if I’m wasting this much income on rent.

    • Actually, you are doing REALLY WELL, & CONGRATULATIONS, there are so many people doing it so much tougher, you have no idea … families are breaking down everywhere. Please, truly appreciate your GOOD FORTUNE X

  11. We all talk about the young, which is all good but what about the older generation? I am 64 years old. I rent, but I am unable to get a full time job. I work a casual job and barely have enough to live on. I live on my own and have a very small amount of super, no money in the bank. I’m unable to get a pension until next year – I have to wait until I am 65 and 6 months. I know that the younger generation will not get a pension, but they will have their super. God forbid those who don’t have a high paying job, as they will not be able to live and pay rent. It’s a very sad situation.

  12. The rental market is a joke. I get just under $500 a week and pay $295 a week rent for a property in Geelong West. The owner won’t repair anything. There is paint peeling off the ceilings. Leaking downpipes and guttering. A falling apart leaking shower base. A cracked toilet bowl that they just keep regluing. This is how they treat a 4 year tenant who has never been late with the rent and keeps the house and back garden lovely. The owner owns a cattery business and her own home so I struggle to uunderstand her neglect. Yet the rent goes up $10 a week to provide a ‘gardener’ to make the front gardens beautiful. He mows the front ‘lawn’ every 3 weeks. That’s it. It stresses me so much how we are treated. It’s about time I got legal advice I think. The ‘property manager’ does nothing, not even reply to texts.

    • Hi Medievalmum, that’s a tough situation. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling stressed as a result of your tenancy. Your rights as a tenant differ from state to state, but if you wish to pursue this further, you should contact your state tenancy body for some general advice on how to best proceed. You can find links to these websites on our ‘Get Support’ section. Just scroll down the page until you spot the maps. https://www.rent.com.au/blog/student-advice Hope this helps! Lauren

    • Was it like that when you first inspected it?
      I gather it probably was. When you accept the property in poor condition, then why do people think the landlord will suddenly change and start doing it up? If I say move, you’ll probably tell me that the nicer homes are too dear where you live, hence the reason you rented the place. You can’t have it both ways.

      • No the paint was not peeling.
        I didn’t test the shower to see if it leaked.
        I didn’t inspect behind the toilet bowl to see if it had previous dodgy repairs!
        I didn’t inspect the guttering!
        Honestly what planet are you on?
        The dodgy Real Estate that the Landlord had managing the property allowed 10 minutes to inspect it! And yes… DODGY! Now closed down and charged with fraud.
        Any property owner needs to do routine maintenance. None has been done here in 4 years. I have done repairs here out of sheer desperation. The council did over $300 repairs to leaking taps for free because I am on a pension and the repairs were not being done.
        You are assuming this is a dump in a nice area? Why is that Dave?
        It’s time the Tenancy Tribunal were notified.
        Do you know what happens when they get a complaint? They take the rent to hold in trust while it is investigated. Maybe then the Landlord will get the repairs done. How is a leaking shower, causing the tiles to fall through the floor, not an urgent repair?
        How is rusted downpipes causing the garage to flood not an urgent repair?
        How is blocked/rusted guttering, causing water to leak into the ceiling and down the lounge room walls, not an urgent repair?
        Any damage to the house HAS to be reported to the Landlord ASAP. Why?
        Nothing gets fixed.
        How could anyone in their right mind let a home crumble?

        • Thank you so much Lauren. I didn’t realise the Landlord had 2 weeks to fix non urgent repairs. Will be filling in a Notice To Landlord and sending it registered mail then if the repairs are not done in 2 weeks I can serve a Breach to Landlord and also contact Consumer Affairs who will hold the rent till repairs are done. Thank you!!

          • I hope this works out for your Medievalmum, through this article i have found out a lot more about my rights as a tenant in Australia, things that even my Australian husband was not aware of. It just goes to show you, you can learn something new every day 🙂 thanks Rent.com

          • Hi Medievalmum, we appreciate the update! I’m glad you were able to find some information that’s helped you progress the situation.
            Crossing fingers all works out for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out in the future if you need anything 🙂 Lauren

        • I am glad your fed up Medievalmum. A tenant that stays and pays for 4 years is, as far as I am concerned GOLD. Yes i also think your landlord under appreciates having a long term tenant who pays on time if that is the case. I bet you look at your next prospective residence differently though hey….
          I really don’t get why , if the house is that bad, you dont just move. You are a tenant you have the freedom of not being tied to a property by a mortgage. Your assumption about me “You are assuming this is a dump in a nice area? Why is that Dave?” is incorrect. I make no assumptions on where your living. Just that the house you live in sounds very substandard for any area really.
          Your last statement “How could anyone in their right mind let a home crumble?” i do get. I also cannot understand owning an asset and not looking after it.
          One suggestion may be that it is a potential development site and the landlord does not want to spend money on the building as it will eventually be torn down – just an assumption of course.

          • So full of suggestions for renter’s, aren’t you Dave. “Owned many properties since1988”. Back then, you could buy a really nice 3 bdrm house in inner Sydney for well less than $200,000.00! Now that standard of house would go for 1,500,000 – 2,500,000, at least. Scared of the Capital Gains tax Dave?
            I got stung by a cruel, l greedy ex at Settlement. Wanted all my “Super” value. Wish now I’d paid the bastard. Am drawing down on my Super regularly, because my rent, shared with my son for a small villa, costs us 58% of our income!! Can’t move to the outback. Am disabled and attend regular medical Appts. The pension, including rent assist etc is less than 1/2 what I was earning 6 yrs ago, 3 days a week in Nursing (so not the highest wages)! Govt housing has a waiting list of 3-4 yrs and if you have a pet, forget it. Or maybe just blithely kill your companion. I worked very hard, virtually 24/7, and thus became an owner for 20 years. But the property market has increased by probably 300% in Sydney over the last 7 or so years. Ridiculous!!! Young mortgagees must have huge loans. Long term owners, who are lucky enough to also have an investment property, are paying minuscule mortgage repayments in comparison. I can do the Math! We are poor, but not fools Dave. Life out here is Hell!!

          • Dave, you have a serious problem. M, your rent is cheap, you are of the lucky few. Maybe that is why your rent is cheap, ie the house is ancient & falling apart. Do you want to find a new home, or appreciate what you have? You guys are weird.

  13. My name is Heath and I’m struggling I pay $400pw for a unit in Wollongong and I’m a manager in a company for 26yrs full time and I’m on holidays now and I can’t afford to go anywhere or get dental treatment.

    • Hi Heath, thanks for posting a comment. We’re sorry to hear you’re struggling over in Wollongong. Are you nearing the end of your tenancy? If you’re on a fixed term, remember you have the right to negotiate a fair rental price for the type of property and the market you’re in. When you’re ready to look for a new property, don’t hesitate to get in touch – we can point you in the right direction. If you’re really struggling and need tenancy advice, you should contact your state tenancy body for some general advice on how to best proceed. You can find links to these websites on our ‘Get Support’ section. Just scroll down the page until you spot the maps. https://www.rent.com.au/blog/student-advice All the best – Lauren

  14. I reckon if the government stopped spending our taxes on all sorts of idiot grants and foreign aid and bleeding heart leftist agendas, they could afford to give working Australians a proper tax cut so people could afford to live.
    We have all time low bank rates at the moment. What happens to us all when rates go up? I guess then rents go up!
    It’s the system that is the problem and only a government can fix that, not our landlords.

  15. Dave you have left negative comments to quite a few of us upset renters.
    My guess is you are a Landlord.

    Suggestions:
    If you can not afford to maintain a property… sell it.
    If it costs you more to own an investment property than you can afford… sell it.
    If you have a decent tenant paying rent on time and looking after your property… look after them or you will be served with a Notice To Landlord for repairs and only have 2 weeks to do the repairs or face a Breach Notice and have the rent payments put into a trust account by Consumer Affairs while they investigate.
    This is now the path my Landlord is going after 4 years of neglecting not only their property but us also.

    Huge thanks to Rent.com.au

    • Hi Medievalmum. I make my comments not to please and not to upset. I make tham as that is how I see the world. If a practical comment is deemed negative then so be it ut that is your assumption and not the intent.
      In answer to your suggestions:
      1. If you can not afford to maintain a property… sell it.
      …Never had this problem. I also have never in almost 30 years as a landlord had a tenant complaint to the tribunal about a maintenance issue.
      2. If it costs you more to own an investment property than you can afford… sell it.
      …If every landlord sold their property based on your above statement there would be no renatl properties for you to live in.
      3. If you have a decent tenant paying rent on time and looking after your property… look after them or you will be served with a Notice To Landlord for repairs and only have 2 weeks to do the repairs or face a Breach Notice and have the rent payments put into a trust account by Consumer Affairs while they investigate.
      …When the agent tells me something needs to be fixed, it gets done. I also have a 5 to 7 year renovation plan on all my properties. So when we are between tenants there works carried out on the property to improve or upgrade. So I cannot relate to your above comment.

      Good luck with the repair situation.

    • Go for it Medievalmum! I also really appreciate the info from rent.com.au, but in the end, they can’t turn the clock back. They can’t magically reduce Sydney, Wollongong or Newcastle rents back to reasonable amounts. I have seriously considered moving to northern NSW- southern QLD, near my sister, or even New Zealand! No real knowledge of their market though. My son is half way through his degree and loathe to move. The thought of packing everything up and moving again makes me I’ll. All we can do is keep going and attending Forums like this that make you feel less alone. Cheers Pam

  16. I have been homeless now for 4 months. Couch surfing or sleeping in my car.
    After loosing a bond due to the other tenants in my share house, it has come to having to apply for early superannuation realease due to financial hardship, that I can manage to pay a bond. I have struggled to secure a lease, if and when I do I will be paying no less than 55% of my weekly wage to rent.
    Rental stress is an understatement

  17. Regarding: “BERNIE’S Post – 19/4/17” and “our multiple property owner” DAVE’S response to Bernie’s plight.
    TO DAVE: How Callous and Downright Cruel!!!!! His son has a disability, therefore requires medical support, GP, Specialists etc. These don’t just fall off trees if you are very distant from a well serviced city or town. Where would be your “more affordable” suggestion be located Dave? Perhaps you could offer a special concession rate on “ONE” of YOUR “SEVERAL” properties! The Govt would surely provide special rebates for you.
    Have you no shame? That was a really low, cold response to a man, the depth of whose day to day struggles you couldn’t even begin to imagine or comprehend.
    TO BERNIE: (From a Carer also) I wish you all the best of luck. Hope something changes for the better for you. May a Guardian Angel land on your shoulder.

  18. High cost of living
    One of the highest in the world. High rent, government extending retirement age and putting a 17% tax when you plan to withdraw it. Government sold off ore and land to overseas investors but started no middle industry to sustain the economy.
    Only 2 answers I can see to these problems and neither of them involves any help from the government. Who in my eyes have failed and have there own very good retirement plans and salaries across the board.
    One is an early death to save us having to retire and live on cat food and the other is an exodus overseas to a country where you might be able to have a life after retirement.
    I personally would like to thank the government for there ineptness and for punishing both renters and owners equally badly.

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