These are the Canberrans most struggling with rental stress
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These are the Canberrans most struggling with rental stress

Canberra is becoming increasingly unaffordable for baristas, waiters and bartenders, as rising rental prices push more people in the ACT into housing stress.

The latest Rental Affordability Index showed Canberra sits behind Sydney as the nation's worst capital city for low income households needing to rent.

Katie Laycock works four jobs but still struggles with the pressure of rent increases.

Katie Laycock works four jobs but still struggles with the pressure of rent increases.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Canberra has a median weekly rental price of $550 - the equal highest in the nation - according to Domain's State of the Market Rental Report for the September quarter.

The latest index, published on Thursday, showed the ACT's relatively high income-earning workforce was pushing up rental prices, making housing unaffordable for low income households.

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The median rental household in the ACT has a gross income of about $100,800 a year.

Rent was classed as "extremely unaffordable" for single pensioners on benefits, who are spending about 74 per cent of their income on accommodation.

A single part-time worker parent on benefits is spending about 58 per cent of income on rental payments, making renting "severely unaffordable".

Full-time hospitality workers would have to spend an average of 38 per cent of their weekly income to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Canberra, according to the index.

Students living in Canberra spend about 34 per cent of their income on accommodation, the equal highest proportion of any capital city.

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Single Canberrans on benefits would essentially be priced out of the market, forced to pay an "unachievable" 114 per cent of their income to rent privately.

Large swathes of Canberra's inner north and inner south are classed as unaffordable, along with parts of Tuggeranong, Woden and Gungahlin.

Prices in all of Belconnen were considered "acceptable" by the housing affordability index.

Katie Laycock, who juggles four part-time jobs, said rising rental costs in her suburb of Downer had prompted her to consider moving overseas.

Ms Laycock, 24, predicted rental prices in the inner north would continue to rise as property owners, developers and investors cashed in on the light rail.

"I really like living in the area, it's super convenient and it's going to be a real hot spot," she said.

"But the prices continue to go up and if I don't work the jobs that I do, I find that I can't feed my pets, I can't feed myself. You don't have the option of beers or coffees - it is stressful when you cannot make ends meet."

National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, SGS Economics and the Brotherhood of St Laurence have released the index bi-annually since 2015, providing a measure of housing affordability across the country.

Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Conny Lenneberg said the report was proof Australia was experiencing a "housing crisis", which was hitting low income earners the hardest.

“High rents are pushing unemployed people on very low Newstart payments into deeper poverty," Ms Lenneberg said.

"Jobseekers are forced out to the urban fringes of our cities to find suitable accommodation but that places them far from jobs and public transport connections. Housing costs pressure means some renters on Centrelink are being pushed into homelessness."

Dan Jervis-Bardy is a Canberra Times reporter.

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