Sydney nurse Damien Davis, 30, considers himself "really lucky." In the city's east, where he grew up and now rents, that equates to living in a tiny unit with four bedrooms, five people, one toilet and a cramped kitchen.

They rent privately off an old lady for A$900 ($980) a week ("a score," he says). It's agitating at times, especially after a nightshift dealing with aggressive drunks and drug addicts, but he refuses to complain.

"For me, I've been happy. The place has been great for what I need to do but (it) hasn't had the possibility of savings for me. It's been enough for me to live on, to rent, and to enjoy the things that I do in life, but not to save," he says.

In order to save money he would be required to take "lots of extra shifts" meaning "spending all your free-time at work, which would be exhausting and result in a higher factor of burning out in my profession," he says.


As a nurse Damien takes home around A$60,000 ($65,290) dollars a year after tax, A$11,000 ($11,970) of which he estimates is spent on rent.

In six years of fulltime 40 hour weeks he has managed to save A$6000 ($6,530). He admits he could have saved more if he hadn't taken an annual trip overseas but with house prices in his area averaging A$2.1 million ($2.28m), or 35 times his annual income, it wouldn't have made much difference. Even unit prices are above A$1m ($1.08m) in his area and still well beyond his means as an everyday working class Australian.

Elsewhere in Sydney prices are less than in the East, but the average house still costs over A$1m ($1.08m).

"There are no pockets in Sydney that are affordable any more," he says, adding that he is also worried about the longevity of his current lease. "We're not going to be able to stay here forever and that is an obvious risk of renting around here if it keeps going through the roof," he says.

The Sydney median house rent is now A$540 ($587) a week. In the East, the average house rents for over A$1000 ($1088) a week. Damien thinks there should be more rights for renters and a cap put on rent in order to protect the many young Australians who are locked out of the housing market.

"It's just not fair that rent prices are able to continue to go through the roof. And buying property ... Sydney is just not a city where that's possible for people who are not in that ultra-high income earning bracket to afford property, which pushes out the lower and middle class, which is a shame for society," he says.

University of New South Wales Professor of Housing Research and Policy, Hal Pawson, agrees that the issue of renter rights needs just as much if not more of a focus than housing affordability.

"The media is obsessed with home ownership affordability and rarely discusses rental affordability. Nearly four fifths (78 per cent) of low income private tenants pay rents exceeding 30 per cent of income - thus pushing them into poverty (not enough cash left for basic essentials, once rent is paid)," he tells

The situation has been steadily declining, says Pawson, since former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, "sadly scrapped" the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) in 2014.