RLC in the Media: City tenants feel the strain as rent eats up the average income

Redfern Legal Centre’s (RLC) acting tenancy service co-ordinator Tom McDonald spoke to The Daily Telegraph about growing financial pressures Sydney tenants face as rental prices continue to soar.

By Jill Stevens. Published by The Daily Telegraph on 19 January 2017.

Tenants in the city are under more financial pressure than ever as median rent prices hit up to 77 per cent of average incomes.

Figures provided by data and analytics agency CoreLogic suggest 83 per cent of those renting across 27 inner city suburbs are paying more than the recommended 30 per cent proportion of their income on rent.

Only 17 per cent of us spend the recommended amount or less, and a full quarter of renters are trading more than half of their income for a place.

Waterloo, where the average weekly household income was just $905, has a median asking rent of $700 for a house and $650 for a unit. These numbers suggest an average punter could be spending up to 77 per cent of their income to rent a middle-of-the-range home.

High prices have not dissuaded potential city residents who are still eager to live in Waterloo and surrounds.

Property managers say demand is high and applicants are willing to pay the price.

Raine and Horne Green Square’s Katherine Lawson said her agency continued to receive applications from potential tenants whose income would be swallowed up by rent.

“We get (applications from) a lot of people who we reject because the rent’s more than 40 per cent of their income,” Ms Lawson said.

Any more, she said, and tenants could struggle to pay their rent on top of basics. “It’s basically just a simple rule as to what you can afford,” she said.

Further afield in Ultimo, Glebe and Potts Point, rent represents 60 per cent of the average income, and in Chippendale, Woolloomooloo, Redfern and Rosebery, a unit would eat up half the income of the average renter.

Redfern Legal Centre’s acting tenancy service co-ordinator Tom McDonald said this lack of affordability, as well as a perceived lack of supply, can lead to tenants feeling reluctant to stand up for themselves.

He said tenants can be afraid to ask for necessary repairs because they’re worried their rent will increase; and that when they are hit with a rent rise, tenants are often afraid to contest them.

“A lot of the time tenants would prefer not to create ... any problems because they feel they’re at risk of being evicted,” he said.

Read the original article on dailytelegraph.com.au.