Tenant Mitchell James has lived in the Inner West for 11 months. Photo: Vanessa Lim

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By Vanessa Lim

About 40 per cent of people in Sydney are now renting according to a 2018 study by the Committee for Sydney.

The figure rises to over 50 per cent for people living near the heart of Sydney sparking concerns about housing affordability.

Karen Walsh, the CEO of Shelter NSW said, “There’s nothing inherently wrong with renting, it’s an option you choose but it has become increasingly obviously that for some it is not a choice.”

“It really shows that home ownership has become out of reach. This is especially true for the young generation and even for young people who have got good jobs.”

A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment said, “The NSW Government is working to improve housing affordability across NSW by increasing housing supply, speeding up approvals and offering stamp duty relief to first home buyers.”

“Our $4.3 billion Housing Affordability package announced on 1 June last year is designed to make it easier for people to own their own home, including cutting and reducing stamp duty.”

But increasing the supply of housing has not fixed the issue of affordability for renters like Mitchell James from Ashfield.

Mr James said, “The rent is about $330 per week but they’re increasing it in January so I’m moving again.”

Mr James said moving further away from the centre of Sydney would be his only option, doubling his travel time.

“It’s looking like I will be moving pretty far away, maybe the Fairfield area, but it’s the only area I can afford without putting a lot of strain on myself.”

“It’s hard to keep up with [rent increases] but mostly because everything is centralised around the CBD – Sydney infrastructure is also very poor.”

Karen Walsh agreed that travel was an issue for people seeking more affordable homes away from the CBD.

“If you move further away from work, you’re spending more time on travel and you’re also spending more money on travel. So, it’s a cost on your family, quality of life and other important things.”

The problems for renters in NSW extend to the tenancy laws.

While there has been recent legislative reform to ensure rental properties are maintained to a certain standard, there has been no change to the ‘no grounds’ eviction path for landlords.

Karen Walsh said, “The issue with renting in NSW is that rental legislation favours the landlord, it does not favour the tenant.”

“More and more people are going to be leasing a property, unsure if their landlords will evict them in 90 days if they want their property back, or if they want to increase the rent.”

For young adults like Mitchell James who will seek to own his own home in the future, it won’t be as easy as simply buying into the market.

“I’ll have to buy a property ages away with work over [near the CBD], then slowly creep my way into the market, this is going to happen for most people.”