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Rent crisis forces Aussie into 'demoralising' couch surf: ‘Basically homeless’

Mia Smith was paying $910 a month to live in a share house with no hot water, no locks on doors and broken appliances.

An Aussie woman has been forced to couch surf because of “unlivable” rental conditions, as Australia’s housing crisis continues.

After moving more than 40 times, 55-year-old Mia Smith thought her new Melbourne townhouse would be her new permanent home.

The former nurse found the Wantirna sharehouse advertised on Facebook Marketplace and agreed to pay $910 a month - or $210 a week - for a room.

Mia Smith speaking about rent crisis
Aussies like Mia Smith are being forced to put up with “unlivable conditions” or face homelessness as the rental crisis continues. (Source: 9News)

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But instead of being “home sweet home”, Mia said the crammed share house offered no hot water, no locks on the doors, a broken dishwasher and toilet seat, and stained carpets.

Mia claims the sharehouse does not meet minimum standards required by Victorian law. So, after living in the share house for three months, Mia decided she’d had enough and described the situation as “demoralising”.

"I've had to give up this room and break a lease that's non-existent ... I'm basically homeless," Mia told 9News.

She’s now been forced to couch surf at friends’ homes since moving out while she looks for a place to live.


Rental pain continues

Finding a rental property remains incredibly challenging and competitive for tenants as we head into the rental changeover season.

Australia’s vacancy rate has remained at a record low for the second month in a row at 0.8 per cent, according to Domain.

Domain chief of research and economics Dr Nicola Powell said strong overseas migration and higher property prices were “pressurising demand”.

“Dwindling rental stock has visibly suffered because of a lack of investor activity, ongoing development undersupply and higher construction costs,” Powell said.

“While the current vacancy rate is holding steady, the record-low rate is concerning for tenants with the changeover period just around the corner.

“This limits their options, keeps competition tough, and can lead to higher rent costs, added stress during the transition, and weakened negotiating power for tenants.”

Meanwhile, Mia said she was just looking for “safe … secure housing, where you can have family and friends and live life”.

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