In Australia, a real estate market that looks like the Wild West for tenants


On this first Saturday of April, Nicky Britt, a dynamic 50-year-old looking for accommodation in the northern suburbs of Sydney, is waiting to visit yet another property from the shelter of her car. Raindrops splash on her windshield as she stares at the red brick house, flanked by forty steps and a poorly maintained garden, offered for rent. This divorced mother is ready to make a lot of concessions to find accommodation before the end of her lease. Hurry up. His file has already been refused five times. In the midst of a crisis in the rental market, the island-continent has taken on the air of the Wild West for all those who are not owners. “The real estate version of The Hunger Games »now headlines the Australian media.

Since the reopening of the borders, closed between March 2020 and November 2021 to protect the country from the pandemic, the vacancy rate has fallen to 1.47% in February, the lowest since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Taking advantage of strong demand and favorable legislation, landlords have made unprecedented rent increases: +37% over the past three years. “Of course, the prices are crazy, but what worries me the most today is the few houses to visit”, deplores Nicky Britt, who, with only one salary, sees his candidacy systematically rejected. “As a single mother, I tick all the wrong boxes and can’t afford to pay more to make my case stand out. »

To hold the attention of all-powerful landlords in this hyper-competitive market, potential tenants are reduced to outbid the amount of rent requested. At the end of February, the real estate agency Viewey notably reported, in an internal communication, the case of a two-room apartment in Sydney, offered for rent for 1,600 euros per month. Among the thirty-one people who showed interest, one of them offered 37.5% more to get the apartment. A proposal obviously accepted. Because if this practice is prohibited, since December, in the State of New South Wales, this only applies when it is the fact of the lessor. “Tenants have every right to bid higher and they do so frequently”, says smiling Maddy Di Angelo, of the Raine & Horne agency, who, on this rainy weekend, is preparing to show a second property after the red brick house. Ten minutes before his arrival, a dozen people are already waiting for him under the dark sky. In downtown Sydney, it’s not uncommon for more than a hundred people to jostle for a view of an uninteresting apartment. ” The competition is tough, annoys Peter, a long expatriate in Asia. It’s particularly difficult when you’re looking for a slightly longer lease. »

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