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$300 rent hike: Aussies forced to ‘live in their cars’

·3-min read
A 'for rent' sign out the front of a house and Australian currency fanned out.
Aussies are being pushed to the brink by rising rent prices. (Source: Getty)

Australian capital cities have recorded rent increases of up to 22 per cent, and many tenants are being pushed to the brink by the hikes.

Almost half (45 per cent) of Australian renters struggled to pay their rent in April – that’s up from 28 per cent at the same time last year, according to Finder research.

The biggest increase has been felt in Darwin – where the median asking rent for houses has increased by 22 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, rental stress is highest (50 per cent) among those on a combined household income of between $10,000 - $49,999.

But few are immune, with almost half (45 per cent) of Aussie renters on a combined household income of between $50,000 - $99,999 saying they struggled to meet rental payments last month.

Less surprisingly, just 22 per cent of renters on a combined household income of between $100,000 - $250,000 said they had struggled.

“This spike in rental costs is putting a lot of pressure on tenants, and it’s leaving them with very little money left over for other necessities,” Finder senior editor of money Sarah Megginson said.

“Once they pay the rent – life is very hard.

“Some tenants simply can’t afford the rapid increase in their rent in such a short amount of time and there are even stories of families being forced out to live in their cars, or in makeshift tents in the street."

Megginson said the rental market had become cut-throat and some applicants were even offering hundreds of dollars more than the asking weekly rate.

“Others are being forced to move in with family or friends just to keep a roof over their heads,” she said.

“I know of one landlord on the Gold Coast whose tenant moved out this month. The property manager advised them to increase the rent by $300 a week – over $15,000 a year.”

Megginson urged those who were struggling to seek out support.

“If you can’t afford your rent and you have a lease now, reach out to your property manager and see if you can come to an agreement with your landlord,” she said.

“Those currently in a house could consider downsizing to a townhouse or unit, as rent increases for apartments have not been as steep.”

Megginson said tenants should also take a look at their finances and cut all unnecessary expenses.

“Do an emergency audit of all utilities to see where you can save money on things like energy bills and insurance,” she said.

“These added rental costs could displace a staggering number of vulnerable people and, with inflation expected to keep rising, rental increases are not likely to go away anytime soon.”

Australians at risk of homelessness can call the Homelessness Hotline on 1800 474 753, or the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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