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Settling for less: 3 in 5 Aussie renters forced to overlook property flaws

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Mould in property_Canva_1800x1000

Tenants are dismissing property flaws in desperate attempts to secure a rental, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,110 respondents – 441 of whom are renters – revealed 3 in 5 (59%) have excused an issue with a property for fear of missing out on a place to live.

That's equivalent to 1.7 million renter households who have put up with issues ranging from unsuitable to unsafe just to get a roof over their heads.

The research found 1 in 5 tenants (21%) have looked past a property's size when it wasn't what they required, while 1 in 7 (14%) have tolerated lack of amenities such as aircon or a laundry.

Worryingly, 1 in 10 (10%) – 290,000 households – accepted a mould issue in a bid to get a rental.

Richard Whitten, home loans expert at Finder, said the number of renters living in below par conditions is frightening.

"Tenants are having to lower their standards and accept some really unpleasant living situations.

"Thousands are stuck in rentals which would be considered hazardous purely because there aren't enough properties available to rent in their area."

Finder's survey found 9% refrained from asking for repairs to be carried out when they noticed damage that wasn't on the entry condition report.

Loud neighbours (11%), high crime rates (8%) and unpleasant smells (6%) were other property flaws that tenants had to turn a blind eye towards to seal the deal.

Whitten said while the numbers are alarming, the rental crisis is slowly showing positive signs of easing.

"The situation might be improving for tenants as vacancy rates start to stabilise or even rise in some areas of the country.

"But listings are still well below pre-pandemic levels."

CoreLogic's most recent Quarterly Rental Review revealed national vacancy rates eased slightly over the quarter from 1.1% in March to 1.2% in June, but were still well below the pre-pandemic average (3.3%).

The research found the median rent for all dwellings across the country is $589 a week (up 9.7% year-on-year), and $617 in capital cities (up 11.5% year-on year).

The capital cities with the largest increase across all dwellings are Perth (up 13.4%) and Sydney (up 12.9%).

The largest change in unit prices is Sydney where the average rent has increased 18.8% year-on year.

Whitten urged Aussies to create a savings buffer to fall back on.

"Setting up a budget to track your expenses will allow you to see where your money is going and where you might be able to cut back on in order to save.

"Having some wiggle room will alleviate the stress and financial burden of finding a suitable property for your needs," Whitten said.

What issues have you looked past to get a rental?
Size of the house/apartment21%
Lack of amenities like aircon or laundry14%
Outdated interior13%
Loud neighbours11%
Mould10%
The rental was located far from my work/family10%
Damage that wasn't on the property condition report9%
Neighbourhood with a higher crime rate8%
Poor access to public transport8%
Poor internet/phone reception8%
Unpleasant smells6%
Having to share a room3%
I've rented but never had to look past anything to get a rental41%
Source: Finder survey of 414 tenants, May 2023

Here are 4 things renters can do about out-of-control rents.

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