Finding a rental property is hard work.
Finding a rental property is hard work. KentWeakley

'Black market': Why finding a rental is harder than ever

THERE is more competition for rental properties and costs continue are continuing to rise, according to new research out today.

It is forcing renters to use new technologies and resort to "precarious” and informal living arrangements.

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute's report, Navigating a changing private rental sector, was undertaken by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Curtin University and University of New South Wales.

It has examined the challenges and opportunities for low-income renters.

Dr Sharon Parkinson of Swinburne University said one of the key problems was that more people were renting across all income groups, generating high competition for the limited affordable homes.

"Low-income renters attempting to access housing through the formal pathway (i.e. via mainstream real estate agents and governed by residential tenancy acts) often come up against financial and social barriers,” she said.

"Many instead turn to informal pathways where rooms and dwellings are privately managed by landlords and sub-landlords.

"Once considered a 'black market', these informal arrangements have grown considerably with the expansion of new technologies such as online rental platforms and social media networks that connect tenants directly with landlords.

"While informal rental arrangements prevent people from street homelessness, they are having to increasingly rely on their own networks and solutions that are highly precarious, and dependant on the quality of relationships with others in the household including sub-landlords.”

Dr Parkinson said these informal arrangements could become "highly exploitative and typically violate tenants' rights, particularly their safety”.

The research found that the policy challenge was to ensure that informal living arrangements were not long term, and that more sustained assistance to move into affordable, secure and adequate rental arrangements was available.

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