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Amplify Blog - The Rental Crisis. It’ll make you cry, sis.

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Amplify Blog - The Rental Crisis. It’ll make you cry, sis.

Amplify Blog

By a QFCC Youth Advocate

For personal reasons, I needed to move out. As I am not a money wizard who can buy a house, I opted for renting. I had done so several times before, once before the pandemic and once after. Both times there was a decent amount available on the market, and for comparatively much less $$$. So, October 2022 arrives, and I am committed to start hunting for a 2023 rental, because I’ve read the news and I know the market is going to be difficult.

But wow. That wasn’t just difficult, that was stressful, demeaning and heartbreaking.

Every inspection I attended, whilst only went for 5 minutes, was a result of hours of planning – finding the place, taking work off, getting someone to come with me, completing a rental application before arrival and calling real estate agents to make sure that the place hadn’t already been secured and they forgot to cancel the inspection (happened multiple times). Every inspection was also attended by anywhere between 30 to 80 people. It was disgusting. We were like sheep, being herded into the property one by one, knowing that the older couple in the back are already besties with the real estate office and have offered to pay $200 above asking price.

I distinctly remember three property inspections, with stories that are experienced by many around the state and country still.

After several inspections into my hunt, I show up to yet another one. Of course, around 50 people are being cycled in an out. In the middle of the lounge room was a man in a suit and sunglasses. Unfortunately, he was not a secret agent, but our beloved real estate agent. As we, as adults, were essentially playing follow the leader through the apartment’s floor plan, he stood in the middle, observed the sheer amount of people in this tiny apartment, and proudly announced ‘Oh! We should have put the price up!’. One person replied ‘people would still pay, we’ll pay anything at this point’ and another under their (not so quiet) breath called them a ‘d*ck head’. I agree. With both.

After that comment, I swiftly left, with a feeling total dread and disgust. Is this a game for real estate agents? Well, if it is, renters certainly aren’t winning. We’re not even allowed to play.  

Even without this cruel comment, it was humiliating to be amongst all those people, knowing that despite your best efforts, someone will just rent bid and get the place anyway. It wasn’t even worth going to inspections if they were all like that (and they were).  But your rental application requires you to be at inspections – and you probably want to see the place you’re going to spend 40 per cent of your income on. Shock! Horror! Existential dread!

At another inspection, I quickly realised I had been totally catfished. Was advertised as a well set up apartment, with great appliances and space, more closely resembled a match book. The building was literally slanting forward, as though it was going to fall at any second. And the stairs attached to the side (screw you, accessibility!) were starting to detach.  Fortunately for me, 1 of the 40 people inspecting the place offered 6 months rent up front. And this is not an uncommon proposition. People were willing to pay a miniature housing deposit just to rent some DIY renovated, slanting, falling-apart flat.

The last inspection was the last straw. This was a one-bedroom apartment in Coorparoo. It was relatively new, well-appointed and in a decent area.  It was about $500 per week and on the first floor. It was tiny and was being inspected by plenty of people. As I was about to leave, I went to ask the real estate agent about applications. Before I could say anything, a man stepped in front of me and said they could take off an extra $150 per week to secure the place.

My heart completely sank.

I can’t afford $500 per week let alone $650+ per week to compete with these people. “Compete”, as though we should be competing for housing.

I gave up on the rental search. I was sick of attending inspections with my fellow sheep, being out bided in this secret rental auction (yes, in every application I offered more, and it didn’t even make a dent). Not once was I approved. I was over the snarky comments from real estate agents, and the total lack of empathy. Even more, I was running out of leave to take from work to attend inspections. It was financially, mentally, and physically draining to keep looking.

So, I changed the strategy. Instead of rental websites, I was hoping and hunting for a break lease to pop up in online marketplaces. Finally, I found one. I inspected the place through a video call and agreed to a rent increase. At last, the nightmare was over (and a new one, as a renter, began).  

My experience is a common one in modern Australia, and especially in Queensland. We just don’t have the housing infrastructure here for the population anymore, in addition to what seems like a total lack of political will to radically change this. Not sure what’s preventing the government from fixing this problem, but with an election coming up, I’d consider the rental crisis that particularly affects young people, as a key motivator for a government shakedown.