Aussies have certainly felt the pinch with rising rental costs, and with higher prices and higher demand, it's getting harder to find something suitable.
But one listing in Sydney's inner-west highlights the dire state the rental market's in, with a commercial office space being flogged as a four-bedroom apartment for $850 a week. Doing this is "likely unlawful," NSW Teneants' Union CEO Leo Patterson Ross told Yahoo News Australia.
The Marrickville property features on Domain and realestate.com.au and is described as being a "4 bedroom unit including electricity, internet and water bill". Photos show tiny rooms with portable beds or folding mattresses and another questionable feature.
Each space is fitted with glass windows allowing occupants to see right through into the next room. So not only is the size an issue, but so is the complete lack of privacy.
The reason for this, of course, is that they're not actually bedrooms despite being made to appear this way. The entire property is an office space and the bedrooms are actually smaller individual offices. This is made evident by another listing of the same space but this time on Domain’s business rental site Commercial Real Estate.
Rather than a "four-bedroom apartment" the exact same space is described as a "prime office in the heart of Marrickville." And rather than bedrooms, as per the residential listings, the space has "5 seperate office rooms" and a "showroom".
The good news is the space "suits a wide range of uses", the listing points out, and has a "full kitchen" and two toilets. And while it doesn't specify "full bathroom" on the listing, photos show there is a shower.
The property, offered for lease through Sincere Real Estate Australia, is "central" and just "300m from Sydenham Metro train station". It's also 700m from the Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre, currently being expanded and refurbished. It was listed on realestate.com.au on November 30, but has since been removed.
Property likely 'unlawful for residential use'
This listing "really shows the need for much greater oversight of the properties being put up for rent," NSW Teneants' Union CEO Leo Patterson Ross told Yahoo News Australia.
"Collecting nearly $45,000 a year in a premise that is clearly not up to a reasonable community standard with see through walls! The property is zoned industrial for good reason and so is likely unlawful for residential use," he added.
Mr Ross explained the conversion of unused office blocks is an option to increase the supply of residential homes, but says it "needs to be done in a responsible and careful way to ensure things like insulation, ventilation, plumbing and electricity and so on are at the appropriate standard."
If this property is used for residential purposes at $850, that equates to $212.50 per room, per week. The average rental for a four-bedroom property in this area ranges from $780 - to $975, according to the Tenants' Union rent tracker. The median price is roughly $850.
It's understood a property could appear as both a residential and a commercial listing. Some planning overlays are mixed-use so there could be a property that allows for both a retail shopfront with a residence upstairs, for example.
But it appears this example breaches realestate.com.au's 'Acceptable Use Policy' and as a result, has been removed.
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