One of many reports about the ongoing and worsening rental crisis in Brisbane, is the article "Wanted: a Room to rent" on page 27 of Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper of 29 April 2008. The article reports trends where both co-tenancy and room-by-room tenancy is increasing. In the latter case, the room is directly rented by each individual tenant from the landlord. This situation is predicted to grow here in the same way that it grew in the UK between 1996 and 2000.
It is hard to fathom whether the intention of the journalist Paddy Hintz is to objectively report this indicator of worsening quality of life for many Queenslanders or to promote acceptance of it. According to the article, "Rental experts are now predicting that &emdash; for good or for bad &emdash; room-by-room renting will continue its stellar rise," as if this trend could possibly be 'good' for anyone other than slumlords, real estate agents and property speculators.
Alex Poulsen, manager of the University of Queensland accommodation services, was quoted:
“I think what is really interesting is the number of professional people in their 20s and 30s who are now sharing.
“It’s that weird 10-year period where you can’t really afford to live in your own home but you don’t want to live at home either.
“People who live in share houses are getting older, people are getting married later and women are waiting longer to have babies.“
Alex Poulsen tried to portray shared accommodation in a somewhat positive light, when he pointed out that this kind of renting can be a great way to meet people, particularly if want to build a portfolio of contacts.
Of course, this is one of many reasons why people have chosen to live in shared accommodation in the past, but it was more a choice than a necessity, and those who did so could expect to save considerably on rental costs in return for having their personal space encroached upon by strangers with whom they may not necessarily have been compatible. These days it is no longer a choice for many, because of skyrocketing rents.
For those who do grasp the nettle of living with strangers under the same roof, the choices may still be limited. Between AU$155-AU$160 per week seems to be the average for shared accommodation which is proving to be a hurdle for many young people seeking shared accommodation in Brisbane according to Don Foster, accommodation manager of the Queensland University of Technology.
The high rents which are forcing many more than previously would have had to have lived together are the direct result of increased demand for rental properties, caused by population growth that has been directly lobbied for by land speculators. Indeed, in May 2004 whilst listening to an "Australia Talks Back" (now called "Australia Talks") talkback program on ABC's Radio National, I was astonished to hear an economist working for the Real Estate Institute of Australia (or possibly the Property Council of Australia) actually state that they were looking towards an increase in immigration to revive the slump in the property market. They have since got their wish of course, with the help of the Courier Mail newspaper, itself a relentless promoter of population growth#main-fn1">1 and the rest of us are paying the price.
#main-fn1" id="main-fn1">1. See The Courier Mail beats the drum for more Queensland population growth. #main-txt1">[back]