Sydney House Listed Rent-Free For A Year… With One Small Catch

She's a fixer-upper.

Sydney House Listed Rent-Free For A Year… With One Small Catch

Image: Domain

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This week, one Sydney letting agent really went the extra mile to annoy the already stretched and stressed prospective renters in the city by offering up a seemingly enticing deal: a property rent-free for twelve months, with only one small catch…

With a celebrity mass exodus underway and a cost-of-living crisis that just never seems to get any better, you might not be surprised to hear that buying a property is harder than ever for many in Australia’s biggest city… even if celebrity houses still seem to be selling for megabucks left, right and centre.

However, this week one letting agent really took the p*ss when he shamelessly listed an “uninhabitable” house under the guise of it being “rent-free” for twelve months, when really there was a pretty significant catch lurking further down the listing.

WATCH: This isn’t the first sign of Sydney’s wider rental crisis.

The rental property in Greenacre, Sydney, has sparked outrage after it was listed for rent with a significant catch – the tenant would need to fully renovate the ravaged property before moving in or, should they wish, during their tenancy.

The three-bedroom house, which has been sitting vacant for three years, was offered rent-free for the first year, but the tenant would need to complete an estimated $60,000 renovation on the property.

The advertisement was posted on Sunday and received instant backlash from online communities across the board. Many people criticised the offer given the unprecedented rental crisis engulfing Sydney, which has now reached emergency levels according to the Tenants Union.

Despite the backlash, the agent listing the property said that demand for the property had been high, with close to sixty calls received in just a few hours: Rabie Chehade removed the ad from Domain after merely twenty-four hours, saying he was “inundated” with interested phone calls.

Rabie Chehade, who listed the property. Image: Australian Strata Management

According to Chehade, around twelve people are seriously interested in the property, most of whom are already qualified tradies that reckon they could complete the very thorough renovations that are required for next-to-no expenditure.

The property owner claims that they cannot afford to carry out the renovations but is reluctant to sell the property as it’s been in their family for over fifty years.

Chehade believes that the rental property could be a “win-win” for all involved. If the estimated $60,000 renovation is not covered by the first year of rent-free living, the rent deal will continue into the second, third year, or even longer. After that, the rent will be below the market rate:

“It’s a fair deal, especially for those looking for the security of a longer-term rental.”

Rabie Chehade

However, NSW Premier Chris Minns has weighed in on the debate, saying the deal was unacceptable and that his government would be reforming rental regulations. The Tenants Union Association CEO, Leo Patterson Ross, supported the premier, saying the agent may have breached the rules of conduct.

A screenshot of the now-removed listing, found on Reddit. Image: @Smeekle91

While it’s pretty common for Aussies to hold onto properties they can’t maintain, Minns wants things to change. In the UK, homeowners can sell management of a property to agents that can repair and market the property.

Whereas The Waterford City and County Council in Ireland has converted abandoned or un-down homes into social housing using a scheme where the council funds the repair on condition that the owner leases to tenants most in need of the housing.

All in all, it’s a masterful bit of clickbait from this letting agent, who’s clearly on track to earn commission on a house that’s literally falling apart. Though it does raise some tough questions about the responsibilities of landlords, both on an individual level and in regard to the wider rental crisis.

For now, it’s time to sit back, relax, and see exactly what the lucky group of ambitious tradies reckon they can do with the joint. Open plan, anyone?