House-sharing living is growing as the rental market remains tight and high living costs prompt homeowners to rent out their spare rooms.
Online accommodation site Flatmates has seen an 18.8 percent increase in new listings since this time last year, but even with that boost, demand for rooms still dramatically outstrips supply.
The platform’s community manager Claudia Conley said in many suburbs there were more than 100 people searching for each property listed.
Demand for rooms continues to dramatically outstrip supply amid Australia’s rental crisis
Flatmates has seen an 18.8 percent increase in new listings since this time last year.
Conley said the increased interest in home-sharing, represented by a record 212,000 active members on the platform in January, was driven in part by normal domestic and foreign migration trends in the summer months.
“The university semester is about to begin, many members are looking to move for new jobs, most leases come up for renewal at this time of year and migration is high as people flock to Australia to live the quintessential Australian summer experience,” he said.
But he said the record activity on the platform was also supported by the high cost of living and the rental crisis pushing more people into sharing accommodation.
Per capita chief executive Emma Dawson said more people were having to share a house to reduce rental costs, while more landlords were having to rent a spare room.
Vacancy rates have been extremely low, driving up rents. Dawson said this was forcing more people to opt for shared housing or stay in these arrangements for longer, particularly young couples who were simultaneously struggling to buy.
At the same time, mortgage holders had been hit by several interest rate hikes and many hoped to recoup those costs by renting a room.
“Both things are causing an increase in the number of homes with multiple occupants,” he told AAP.
He said this was partly undoing the trend toward smaller households during the pandemic, when space became a priority.
More and more people are forced to share homes, especially young couples who were simultaneously struggling to buy (pictured, people queuing to rent a home in Bondi)
“And then, as immigration has returned and the vacancy housing shortage has hit, we are seeing more people having to share houses to reduce their rental costs, and also more homeowners having to rent a spare room in order to make your mortgage payments.’
The Reserve Bank’s latest Monetary Policy Statement noted that while average household size had increased in capital cities over the past year, it remained well below pre-pandemic levels.
Dawson said residents per household were still below pre-pandemic levels, but said forming larger households would not solve affordability problems at their source.
“No amount of landlords renting a spare room is going to touch both sides of the rental and housing crisis in this country,” he said.
Part of the problem was the lack of adequate and well-located provision, including social housing, that could relieve pressure on the private market.
There were also policy options on the demand side, he said, including eliminating market-distorting tax concessions.