Rental crisis: Aussies rage at detail in $375-per-week studio listing

A tiny unit in a trendy inner-city Sydney suburb is attracting attention for all the wrong reasons.

It's getting dire out there.

Aussies are up in arms over a tiny studio recently advertised for rent in the trendy Sydney suburb of Paddington, with many calling the listing exploitative – just the latest in a long list of seemingly subpar rental accommodation to attract negative attention.

Advertised for $375 per week, the now-leased unit features a combined living area and bedroom, which is to be expected of a studio apartment, however in this case a raised bed frame covers almost the entire space.

A prior listing for a near-identical flat in the same building was asking just $195 per week in January 2021.

Tiny rental unit in Paddington, Sydney
A raised bed frame covers almost the entire living space of this tiny rental unit in Paddington, Sydney. Source: Domain

The advertisement for the "affordable getaway" boasts that the high bed provides "extra room for living and dining", a description that hasn't gone down well with thousands of Australian househunters. TikToker Jordie van den Berg showcased the apartment in his popular S**t Rentals video series, prompting several viewers to brand the dwelling a "jail cell".

"I feel like if I lived in this house, I'd go insane in approximately 13 seconds," Mr Van den Berg said of the studio, which also features a tiny kitchenette crammed into a corner, and a bathroom door with slats that allow air to flow through. "This is totally getting out of hand," one viewer commented.

According to the Domain listing for the apartment, it is "set within a charming Paddington terrace conversion", and is described as "private", "light filled" and "the perfect space for someone ready to move in and add their own character". An unimpressed TikTok user was having none of that though, asking; "How can people rent things like this out and live with themselves?"

"All the charm of living in a wardrobe," another joked.

Tiny rental unit in Paddington, Sydney
'All the charm of living in a wardrobe,' commented one TikTok user of the Paddington studio. Source: Domain

According to Mr Van den Berg's video, the house was once a standard terrace, but in 1975 it was sub-divided into eight flats. This sub-division reportedly occurred before the NSW state government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act of 1979, so would not have been subject to modern approval processes.

The agency responsible for leasing and managing the property, Raine&Horne Unlimited, has been contacted for comment.

Tiny rental unit in Paddington, Sydney
Previously a terrace, the property has been sub-divided into eight small flats. Source: Domain

Housing crisis grips Australia

According to recent data from PopTrack, Sydney's rental vacancy rate has dropped to just 1.7 per cent, down from 2.74 per cent a year ago, creating fierce competition for units even as rents have spiked. With limited supply and growing demand for rental dwellings in recent months, hopeful tenants have been forced to battle it out with scores of others just to view a single property, let alone secure a new home.

Meanwhile, the soaring cost of rent continues to put increased pressure on low-to-middle-income earners. As of February, more than 640,000 Aussie households were under housing stress or were homeless, according to a report by SGS Economics and Planning. The report found 42 per cent of all low-income households were paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. Severe rental stress is defined as spending 38 per cent or more of one's income on rent.

Tenants' Union denounces Paddington rental

CEO of the Tenants' Union of NSW Leo Patterson Ross said the $375-per-week Paddington studio represents the grim reality for renters in today's market, asserting that some landlords are exploiting the current situation by offering "subpar" dwellings at unreasonable prices.

"The Tenants' Union advocates for the government to invest in more genuinely affordable housing. When more supply is created, we will see fewer people taking advantage of high demand and offering subpar rental properties," Mr Patterson said in a statement to Yahoo News.

"Rents in this building have nearly doubled over the last two years, demonstrating the intense pressure on people seeking a home. As a result we hear about so many cases of tenants in poor quality accommodation for sky-high rents," Mr Patterson said. "Housing is an essential service and to genuinely provide shelter a rental home needs to offer a reasonable standard of peace, comfort and privacy."

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