Right now is a terrible time to be a renter – or a very good time. There’s an enormous divide between people renting houses in country areas and people renting apartments in inner-city Sydney and Melbourne.
A lot of those city apartment dwellers have been asking for rent reductions and getting them. One woman who’s been renting a one-bedroom apartment in an inner-city Sydney suburb says she was paying $520 a week in rent before COVID, which seemed to be the going rate for similar apartments.
“Post-COVID, I was looking to move,” she tells Mamamia. “There was ongoing building work happening right outside my apartment, including night works, and I was hoping to be somewhere quieter, while still able to go about most of my life on foot. When I looked, I found there were now one beds in my area going for $440 per week, and two beds in a neighbouring building for the price I was paying for one! I took this information to my landlord and asked if they could review my rent so that it was in line with the current market. That day, with no negotiation, my rent was reduced to $440 per week.”
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Another woman renting an apartment in an inner suburb of Melbourne with her partner says she had a look at the market and noticed that rent prices had dropped significantly since they signed their lease 18 months earlier.
“There were almost identical apartment in my building for $40-$70 less per week than we were paying,” she says. “I inspected a few in my building and the neighbouring building to check if I’d be willing to move if push came to shove. As our lease was due for renewal we just emailed our real estate agent and asked if the owner would consider a reduction, given similar apartments in the building were available for $x-$y. The owner offered a price which was $50 less per week so we accepted and signed our new lease.”
Leo Patterson Ross, CEO of the Tenants’ Union of NSW, says in inner-city Sydney and a few areas like Bondi, rents have fallen “quite a lot” for units.
“They have come down 10, 15, maybe up to 20 per cent, and have stayed there since about June,” he tells Mamamia.
There are a number of reasons for that: less international students and less workers from other countries needing somewhere to stay in Sydney, less people able to afford expensive rents because of losing work, and on top of that, people just not wanting to be locked down in a unit.