Homeowners’ Spare Rooms Worth $700 A Month In Today’s Rental Crisis
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Homeowners’ Spare Rooms Worth $700 A Month In Today’s Rental Crisis

Rising mortgage costs and the rental housing shortage have combined to create strong demand for spare room accommodation

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, Nov 3, 2023 11:12amGrey Clock 3 min

Thousands of Australian homeowners are renting out spare rooms amid the rising cost of living, anaemic wages growth and a national shortage of rental homes. A survey by consumer company Finder shows 9% of respondents – extrapolated to more than 600,000 householders — are renting out their spare rooms. They’re making an average of $667 per month or $167 per week by renting out the spare room.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 77% of households have at least one spare bedroom that they could rent out during today’s rental housing crisis. CoreLogic estimates there is currently a rental housing shortfall of 47,500 homes, making it difficult for many Australians to find a rental home amid weekly rents increase by 30% over the past three years as a result. Meanwhile, homeowners are grappling with large increases in loan repayments due to rapid-fire interest rate rises. The combination of these two problems is creating a strong market for spare-room renting, with apps such as flatmates.com.au and AirBnb facilitating connections.

Finder’s money expert Richard Whitten said: “For many Aussies, living with a roommate is better than the consequences of missed repayments. It’s also a good opportunity to create an extra revenue stream. You could be missing out on thousands of dollars by not making use of your extra room. If you do decide to go ahead with it, you’ll need landlord insurance to be covered. Home insurance doesn’t typically cover damage caused by tenants.”

The number of householders living in larger homes than they require is a structural problem in the Australian housing market that was raised by former Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe at a Senate hearing in May.

During the pandemic, many householders switched from smaller forms of accommodation in inner city areas, such as apartments, to larger suburban houses on the city outskirts or in the regions because they were allowed to work from home. The number of people renting share housing also fell as people sought their own space to make working from home more comfortable and to cope with long periods of lockdown.

Now, Dr Lowe says rising interest rates and rents will force people to “economise on housing”. “The way that this ends up fixing itself, unfortunately, is through higher housing prices and higher rents,” Dr Lowe said. “Because as rents go up people decide not to move out of home, or you don’t have that home office, you [get] a flatmate. That’s the price mechanism at work. We need more people on average to live in each dwelling, and prices do that,” he said.

Dr Lowe said strong population growth would exacerbate the housing shortage, and rents would continue to rise. This means demand for accommodation, including spare rooms, is likely to remain high. “We’re going to have 2 percent more people in the country this year, [but] the capital stock is not increasing by 2 percent,” he said.

Rents have risen by 10% in capital cities and 4.1% in the regions over the past 12 months.

Renting it out is the latest method used by homeowners to derive an income from their homes. An explosion in short-stay accommodation apps over the past decade has also seen many homeowners renting separate living quarters or studios at their homes to short-term holidaymakers or travelling executives. In addition, the Finder survey found that 5% of the population – or more than 300,000 people – are renting out a garage. Australian websites such as Parkhouse, Parking Made Easy and Space Out are enabling homeowners to rent parking spaces including their own driveways.

The Finder survey asked respondents about their side hustles to earn extra income amid today’s cost of living crisis brought about by the highest rate of inflation in three decades and rising interest rates. The survey found that 35% of Australians — or 7.1 million people – are earning additional income through a side hustle. ABS data shows a record number of Australians now have a second job. Popular side hustle jobs include dog walking, mystery shopping, tutoring, freelancing and ride-sharing. The favoured non-employed side hustles include recycling cans and bottles, earning an average of $46 a month, making and selling goods ($213 per month) and selling pre-owned goods ($897 per month).


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).


People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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