Renting sucks. Anyone who’s had to navigate Sydney rentals (as I have my whole life) will know they are notoriously fucked for a lot of reasons – they’re ridiculously over-priced, the property is absolutely *never* walking distance to the station, and the ‘study’ is a cupboard under the stairs that even Harry Potter would refuse.

But for me, the absolutely most infuriating and down right fucking insulting bullshit that comes with trying to rent a house in Sydney, is the fact that real estate agents just keep blatantly lying about how many bedrooms the place has. And how there’s nothing I can do about it.

I was house-hunting for nine months in Sydney before I gave up. I was looking for a four bedroom house to share with my family so I wouldn’t have to move out and pay more rent. NINE MONTHS. My body could literally build and eject a human child in that time, and yet there I was, unable to land a single suitable rental. I have since moved out and copped the exorbitant rental price of having to live on my own, because that’s how much real estate agents have fucked me over.

There were a lot of factors contributing to my struggle to find a four bedder. For starters, the prices are fucked. I increased my budget to eye-watering heights *twice* because I kept struggling to find homes that didn’t look derelict or have a cockroach infestation.

Like, I cannot begin to explain how normal it is to show up at a rental inspection and find both dead and live cockroaches scattered around. The real estate agent will just be like ‘oops, forgot to sweep,’ and everyone nods like this is reasonable?? My single mum doesn’t own her own home, so I’ve always lived in rentals growing up, and I’ve moved around a lot. Five, even 10 years ago, this shit was not normal.

And then, of course, the misleading built ins. For some reason, way too many landlords think nailing an IKEA book shelf / those hideous cube things to the wall qualifies as an actual built in for an actual person to store actual clothes. Bonus point if they staple a sheer curtain on the front.

But as frustrating as these are, at least they’re fixable – I can buy my own cupboard. I can fumigate the cockroaches away. I’m even open to lowering my standards and accepting a house in my budget that’s fucking ugly and gross and rat-infested if it means I can stay at home.

But you know what leaves me utterly helpless, and totally homicidal?

Real estate agents lying about bedrooms.

For the love of GOD, how is this acceptable?

There was a day I went to six inspections, and out of those, only two actually had four bedrooms. All the rest were three-bedroom houses with variations of unusable space that was deemed a ‘fourth bedroom’ through some kind of scam-filled delusion.

I wish that I was exaggerating when I say that real estate agents will straight up lie to your fucking face and not give a shit, but it’s literally like that.

I distinctly remember the first time this happened. I went to an inspection for a ‘four-bedroom’ rental that had also listed two lounge rooms. The house wasn’t in the area I wanted or near any public transport, BUT it was within budget and here in the cursed land of Sydney you gotta do what you gotta do.

So I go there with my mum, and it looks great. Way nicer than the photos. There’s heaps of people at the inspection, I’m actually kind of gobsmacked at how much bigger it is than I realised, and everyone else seems equally starry-eyed. The place is perfect and I’m ready to sacrifice myself at the altar in order to get through an application – until I realise, I haven’t seen a fourth bedroom.

I go up to the real estate agent, and ask her which is the fourth room – and she points to the second lounge. I’m confused, and so are the two other families that are hovering around me because all of them were too awkward to ask and are quietly relieved that I’m the one who did.

I clarified that the “fourth bedroom” is the second lounge room, which is advertised as a seperate room on the website. She shrugs, and says “well that’s the fourth bedroom too then.”

WHAT THE FUCK. This room had two open walls for people to walk through, and it opened onto the outdoor entertainment area. There were no doors, no storage, and no privacy. Half the people at the inspection left immediately, because like us, they *needed* the fourth bedroom. It wasn’t negotiable. No one in Sydney is actually trying to move to a four bedder unless it’s a dire situation, because finding a decent and affordable one is impossible.

I cried a little in the car on the way home. At that point, I’d been to dozens of house inspections. I hadn’t had a weekend to myself in months. Every day, I was trawling real estate websites, writing up a timetable for my weekend, calling real estate agents and scheduling appointments.

Out of the months that I spent house hunting, there were lots of different ways real estate agents lied about bedrooms.

Some put  ‘4 bedrooms’ in the number of bedrooms for the listing, and then shamelessly state in the description that there are actually three bedrooms as some sort of ‘made you look! anyway, now that you’re here…’ moment.

Others stated that there were four bedrooms, and when you showed up at the inspection, they would point to the open plan lounge that has barely any walls and certainly no doors, and tell you to make it work. Or maybe it would be an empty, tiny storage room that is definitely not going to fit a bed *and* closet.

Or maybe it’s a study, which could have made a great bedroom if it wasn’t for the fact that the wall facing the hallway has a huge rectangle cut out of it for ~design~, leaving the room with no privacy. Yes that’s real, and before you ask – most landlords (in my mum’s 23 years of Sydney rental experience) would not allow you to nail anything to the wall to cover up holes and create some privacy. You are just expected to live with no fucking wall.

After having several emotional breakdowns relating specifically to four-bedroom homes, I asked a friend who works in real estate if I could report listings for inaccuracy, and they were basically like ‘nope.’ According to the ACCC, real estate agents aren’t allowed to lie about the amount of bedrooms to a buyer – but the rules are vague when it comes to rentals, and since you are arranging an inspection to view a property, not actually signing any leases or contracts yet, they technically haven’t mislead you.

Since it’s all up to perspective, any place can be considered a bedroom if you can fit a bed in it. And the practice of lying about rentals is so rampant that it’s pointless to fight – for every one you attack, there’s 10 more.

I’ll never get the hours back that I’ve wasted attending inspections for three-bedroom houses masquerading as four-bedders, and for that I will be eternally resentful.

After nine months of struggling to find a rental, it took me less than a week to find, apply, be approved, lease, and move into my own apartment. Fuck the Sydney rental housing market. And fuck lying real estate agents for taking advantage of it.