A Sydney tenant has slammed her landlord for being "excessive and greedy" after learning that her rent would increase by an extra $440 a fortnight.
Sarah, 27, said she "expected an increase" at some point but she wasn't ready for such a drastic jump on her "tiny" unit in Zetland, which will now cost her $1,700 a fortnight.
Sarah, who works full-time as a web designer, said she "felt like crying" after receiving the news in an email from the property group that manages her apartment.
"Due to the inflation of the economy and overseas students coming back, the market has increased a lot compared to the COVID period," the email reads.
"Taking these increased costs into account and having regard to rent currently being paid for comparable properties in the area, an adjustment in your rent is considered necessary."
The frustrated renter shared a screenshot of the email on Facebook.
"We just received our notice of rent increase. We were expecting an increase of course, but not quite this," she said.
"My cat has finally settled into our place and is so happy here and so are my partner and I but now we have no choice but to move.
"We can barely afford the current rent as it is. Sorry, I know I’m not the only one in this situation - it sucks."
The Zetland apartment is new and has two bedrooms, although it's quite small Sarah said. There's also no car park and has "a tiny balcony and we get no sun," so she can't justify the increase.
35 per cent rent increase is 'worrying'
Both tenants and landlords have felt the pinch of rising housing costs with interest rates boosting mortgage repayments and therefore rental prices, particularly in major Aussie cities.
And while it's expected for the rental market to return to pre-Covid pricing, many agreed Sarah's new rent is "insane," with one dubbing it "criminal".
One person pointed out that Sarah's rent has jumped 35 per cent which "really is ridiculous and shouldn’t be allowed".
Another said Sarah's new rent price is "worrying", and not in line with current market trends.
"When incomes are increasing by 2-4% and rents are increasing by 25-35% it’s stressful. It’s hard to manage and pretty unreasonable," another said.
"These runaway rent rises should be illegal. I understand that landlords should be allowed to increase the rent but it should be the amount it can be increased should be capped at a certain per cent," someone else said.
'We just can't do it,' says tenant
Sarah told Yahoo News Australia that she and her boyfriend, who is a full-time PHD student, signed a two-year lease in November 2021. Until now they've been paying $630 a week.
"We probably would have actually been willing to pay $700 p/w up from our $630. But they want $850 and we just can’t do it," she said. "We have been good tenants, there has been no issues."
The couple, originally from New Zealand, moved to Sydney because Sarah's boyfriend got a scholarship at nearby UNSW. And while their current apartment is "perfect for us" it's likely they'll have to move.
"We don’t have families who can support us financially, we aren’t on big salaries and don’t have much savings," she revealed on Facebook.
Expert explains price increase
Eliza Owen, Head of Research at CoreLogic told Yahoo News Australia there are a few reasons for the price hikes, but it mostly comes down to higher demand.
"Rental demand has increased, as households have reduced density through the COVID period – potentially for health reasons, as well as being able to establish a space to work from home (ie, a home office in the second bedroom instead of a housemate)," she said.
"More recently, we’ve started to see the return of overseas students and longer term migrants, where overseas arrivals generally settle initially as renters across Sydney and Melbourne."
In the past year, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Zetland has increased by 20 per cent, that's roughly $130 extra a week, according to the NSW Tenants' Union Rental Tracker. The current range is between $640 and $760.
Sarah said they will "look at what’s available out there first" before deciding their next move.
But admitted it is "crazy competitive considering how many people are being priced out of many areas".
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.