Man's 'bikini photo' searching for rental exposes 'serious' online issue

In an increasingly competitive rental market, one man used an unexpected tactic to secure accommodation.

The rental crisis is forcing many people to find unique ways to stand out from the crowd to secure a property and one renter's unexpected tactic has been described as both "hilarious" and "problematic" despite its success.

Cam Johnston, 25, posted to a social media group letting others know he was in search of a room in Sydney, with the "fun, outgoing guy" detailing his budget. He also shared smiling images of himself to entice prospective housemates — with breasts Photoshopped onto his chest.

"Heard that posts like these do really well and get results on here, so thought I’d give it a go," he wrote.

Left, Johnston takes a mirror selfie with breasts superimposed onto his chest, a  tactic to secure a rental. Right, another image of Johnston with photoshopped breasts,
Cam Johnston's tactic to secure a rental was a successful one, yet an expert believes it reveals how dire the rental crisis really is. Source: Facebook

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Online group notorious for 'creepy' offers

The online group is commonly used by individuals eager to find somewhere to live in the city and it is standard for those people, often women, to share details such as their age and budget, as well as revealing images of themselves.

It appears Johnston was pointing to this trend when he posted to the group, with many finding his tongue-in-cheek reference a clever way to tip the gender imbalance in his favour.

"Absolute legend — give this man a room!" one wrote, while another tagged his friend and joked he "has a spare bed to rent".

Yet it has become increasingly more likely that any women who post in the group are flooded by "creepy" offers — by mostly male admirers — who are interested in sharing their home with an attractive woman.

Tactic secures room for renter in 'sparse' market

Johnston confirmed with Yahoo News Australia his tactic was successful saying "it found me a temporary place for now". He is currently "in talks" with another person about renting a room long-term and agreed it had been difficult to secure accommodation.

"I think the ratio of interactions to housing opportunities is sparse!" he said.

A row of apartments with garages at ground level.
Johnston has prospects of securing a long-term rental after his social media post. Source: Getty, file

Body objectification impacts everyone, expert says

Although the strategy was a successful one, an expert said its success proves how dire the current rental crisis truly is if people are willingly to lean into the problematic issue just to secure a roof over their head.

"On the surface it may just appear humorous but at the same time it highlights a more serious issue of body image and objectification on the internet," Sara Quach Thaichon, senior lecturer from the Department of Marketing at Griffith University, said. "It has a big impact on other people even without them noticing, we don't want to accelerate the process of objectification."

Quach Thaichon said there is social currency for those who decide to showcase their body, and this 'tried and tested' method helps people "get what they want'. "Sexual appeal is something that has always been very effective with advertising ... People tend to show their body on the internet as a way to gain attention and it works."

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