Despite the cooling property market, affordable rental housing remains in critically short supply across Australia. Unable to get a private rental unit or social housing, many low-income renters must resort to informal and insecure accommodation. These range from share homes or rooms, to dwellings that breach planning or building regulations.

[Sydney Policy Lab's1newly released study sought to shed light on this problem. We found more people are living in shared rooms or dwellings, often in uncrowded and unsuitable conditions. And illegal dwellings are on the rise in Sydney.


One problem our study focused on was the growing incidence of illegal dwellings in Sydney. These include secondary dwellings that are built, or converted from a garage or shed, without planning permission.

These arrangements can be very dangerous. Unsound construction, inadequate or absent insulation, ad hoc electrical wiring, and poorly drained sites expose occupants to serious health and safety risks. The invisible nature of informal housing increases fire risks – with emergency response staff less likely to suspect people are living in a garage or outbuilding.


  • 1. Sydney's hidden housing problem: 

    A new report released by the Sydney Policy Lab has found low income and vulnerable groups are being forced into informal and sometimes illegal housing arrangements, due to a lack of affordable alternatives. 

    Source: University of Sydney