Faces line up all over town on Saturdays

Housing inspections in Sydney’s inner and eastern suburbs are attracting more than twice as many potential renters as last year as thousands of the city’s renters continue to search for an apartment to call home.

Domain data shows that the number of rental check-ins — people who gave an agent their personal information to enter a property, a common practice during inspections — per listing in the city’s eastern suburbs in February compared to same month has increased by 145 percent the previous year.

Every Saturday, thousands of renters line up at open houses across Sydney.

The number of people touring properties in central Sydney and the Inner South rose 106 per cent, with queues of up to 50 people in suburbs such as Chippendale and Zetland, where two-bedroom flats listed for inspection on Domain on Saturday were the order of the day, the order of the day was an average asking rent in excess of $1050.


Across Sydney there has been a 20 per cent increase in property viewing requests over the 12 month period. The city has seen an 84 percent increase in the number of people viewing rental properties since March 2021.

Domain boss for research and economy, Dr. Nicola Powell said the data shows the level of competition renters continue to face after the traditional changeover period of December and January.

“Sydney is a landlord market,” she said, stressing that the situation did not arise overnight, with a lack of rental supply, affordability issues when buying property, a decline in household size, as well as the return of international comers who typically rent, all play a role.

A Reserve Bank of Australia report released last week found that advertised rents in Sydney rose by more than 10 per cent over the five years to the end of 2022.

Two weekends this month The Sun Messenger spoke to renters who were lining up to inspect houses and apartments in the city’s inner suburbs.

With eviction dates approaching, rent increases and pressure to bid higher, many had viewed dozens of properties but still hadn’t found a place. These are some of their stories.

Matthew and Jasmine Drummond inspecting at Bondi Beach

Matthew and Jasmine Drummond have been queuing for inspections in Bondi Beach.

Matthew and Jasmine Drummond have been queuing for inspections in Bondi Beach.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

Matthew and Jasmine Drummond are entering the rental market for the first time in 20 years and the competition is a shock.

“It’s pretty daunting,” says Matthew. “We had a great seat and it was easy not to move.”

The couple have spent the last two decades renting a flat in Bondi. They know their neighbors, love the community, and have invested a significant portion of their own money in maintaining and repairing the property.

However, during a maintenance inspection, a contractor found serious electrical and plumbing problems. The two were served with a notice and they should look for a new rental apartment.

You’re not very lucky. As they join the line of 10 outside a two-bedroom flat in North Bondi, the estate agent arrives to let them know the inspection has been cancelled.

“Everything costs a lot more money now,” says Matthew.

Tee Longksao, Inspection at Chippendale

In the apartments surrounding Chippendale’s Central Park Mall, which is conveniently located near UTS and the University of Sydney as well as Central Station, lines of international students jostle between inspections of apartments priced in excess of $500 per room cost.

T-shirt Longksao

T-shirt Longksao

But Tee Longksao, 33, is not a student. She is trying to find a place for her cousin’s family here when she moves away from Thailand in a few weeks. You can’t really stay with her – she’s in a shared apartment – and the search becomes pretty hopeless.


“For the last two weeks I’ve inspected units at similar addresses, and there were often 50 people there,” she says.

“They don’t have the supply for people coming from overseas. We had to increase the budget because otherwise you can’t get a unit.”

Days later, the two-bedroom unit was renting out for $1,300 a week. When it was last rented in August, it was $1,000 a week.

Riley Finnerty and Bryan Nguyen inspecting at Enmore

Like many apartment seekers, it was an increase in their weekly rent that led Riley Finnerty and Bryan Nguyen to announce they were vacating the apartment they had rented for a year. Frustratingly, the couple may have given up a deal that was comparably good.

Riley Finnerty and Bryan Nguyen.

Riley Finnerty and Bryan Nguyen.

“They increased our rent slightly, but I recently found that our apartment was advertised on Domain and it cost more than $300 on top of what they made us pay every fortnight,” says Nguyen.

“This is for a one bedroom apartment.”

The couple are moving into a shared flat with two friends to keep costs down. They searched for a place for two weekends and inspected about 10 places.

“By our third or fourth inspection, we got to where we are right now,” says Finnerty.

Joshua and Sharon Marlow at the Zetland inspection

Joshua Marlow and baby Issy at an inspection in Zetland.

Joshua Marlow and baby Issy at an inspection in Zetland.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

Joshua and Sharon Marlow are desperate for a new home in Zetland before their daughter Issy turns two.

They received notice of a $230 rent increase on their current property, which they took to the NSW Civil and Administrative Court. The raise was lowered to $110 a week after negotiations, and they were told they would be given a six-month lease. But after three months of a rolling monthly lease, they were given 90 days’ notice. Her eviction notice is six days after Issy’s birthday on May 24th.


The day after they received this, the NSW Government announced a proposal to ban groundless evictions for tenants on rolling leases.

“It’s a little late for us,” says Joshua. The couple have considered offering more rent to secure a spot, but the rent they’ve been inspecting — a two-bedroom, two-bathroom Zetland condo renting for $1,000 a week — is already on ” “top end” of their budget. They’ve considered offering more upfront rent instead.

“All the rental offers make it worse for us,” says Sharon.

“We want to find a place soon – we don’t want to [Issy’s] birthday be ruined.”

Olivia Natasha, Inspection at Chippendale

In Chippendale, e-commerce operations manager Olivia Natasha is in week three of her search for a one bedroom apartment for herself and her roommate.

“We found out that the owners of our current apartment are moving back into our building, so every weekend and weekday we just tried to look at the locations,” she says.

Olivia Natasha.

Olivia Natasha.

Two years ago she was paying $600 a week for a twin room in the area. Then, after a year, her old landlord increased it to $700.

“Everything we find is obviously more than what we are paying for now. Nine hundred is our budget. It’s really steep but I think that’s the market at the moment.”

Lillian Lu, inspection at Enmore

Lillian Lu’s parents are renovating their home in the Hills District and the three of them need a place to live. The 18-year-old does the hard work of the weekend checks for them.

Lilian Lu.

Lilian Lu.

“I’ve inspected many places, 20 or more,” she says. “And it’s really hard because we have a dog.”

They made a few offers, sometimes more than the list price.

“We’re looking for a shorter lease, and that’s even rarer. Everyone wants you there for 12 months.”

Damien Minter inspecting at Bondi Beach

Returning to Australia from the UK, Damien Minter is looking for affordable housing for himself, his partner and their four year old. A property he toured in Coogee had a line of 40 people waiting to inspect the property.

Damien Minter.

Damien Minter.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

Minter says if he loses his temporary housing, he’ll consider offering more money for a rent.

“If we’re desperate, maybe we have to do that,” he says.

Cyrus Safdar, Inspection at Chippendale

Cyrus Safdar, who is new to Sydney, chuckles when asked if this is the first property he is viewing.

“No,” he says, lengthening the vowel with a tone of disbelief. “It’s like the 40th or 50th.”

He’s not picky. Today he inspects in Chippendale, but he’s generally willing to pay $400-$500 a week to live alone within a 20-mile radius of his CBD office.

Cyrus Sadar.

Cyrus Sadar.

He has attempted to offer more than the advertised price but suspects he will be automatically rejected because he currently only has an Australian payslip after working abroad for several years.

“In Germany, I had an intermediary from work who helped me find a job,” he recalls.

“I’m probably luckier than other people because I have family living here, so I don’t incur high costs with short-term rentals, but I do get frustrated. I feel like I’m hurting [my family’s] space too.”

Ruairi Collier, inspection at Enmore

It’s Ruairi Collier’s third home inspection this Saturday when we catch him speeding down Francis Street in Enmore at around 10.30am to inspect a two bedroom house.

“Hence the sweat,” says the 25-year-old, pointing to the patch on his shirt.

Ruairi necklace.

Ruairi necklace.

At his sharehouse in Marrickville, his partner and a friend have been given an appointment to move out because the owner wants to sell. Knowing the market, they are happy to live somewhere in the inner west and have had to increase their budget “by a few hundred” a week.

He says it’s “on the table” to offer more, but they haven’t made any offers yet.

Stefanie Bousboureli.

Stefanie Bousboureli.

Stefanie Bousboureli, Inspection at Chippendale

Stefanie Bousboureli moved to Sydney from Greece a month ago to study for her Masters. In two words, she says it is “very difficult” to find an apartment in Sydney.


“Everywhere I go there are about 100 people trying to inspect the same place. I wasn’t expecting that,” she says.

Bousboureli says that with the unseasonably warm autumn weather, she feels like she’s wasting perfect Sydney weekends house inspections rather than sightseeing.

“I’d much rather be at the beach.”

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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-faces-of-sydney-s-rental-crisis-20230316-p5cson.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Faces line up all over town on Saturdays

Justin Scaccy

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