How Bad is the Rent Crisis in Australia?

April 21, 2023
rent crisis

Key takeaways:

    • The rent crisis in Australia has been driven by rising rent prices, decreased rental supply, and record-low vacancy rates.

    • The crisis is impacting tenants, landlords, real estate agents, and the broader housing market.

    • Addressing the rent crisis requires government intervention, strategic planning by tenants, and long-term solutions to create a more balanced rental market.

Renting a home in Australia has become increasingly difficult in recent years which has many renters wanting to buy a house instead. The perfect storm of skyrocketing rent prices, decreased rental supply, and all-time low vacancy rates has created a rent crisis that is impacting tenants, landlords, and the housing market. So, how bad is it? Let’s dive in and explore the various factors that have contributed to this crisis and its impact on Australians.

Factors contributing to the rent crisis

While there are many advantages to renting, the rent crisis has made it tough on tenants. Several factors make renting difficult and have contributed to the issue in the rental market:

Skyrocketing rent prices

One of the key factors driving the rent crisis is the rapidly rising rent prices, particularly in capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. This is a real deterrent for renters when it comes to the whole renting vs buying debate.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, rent prices have surged by more than 10% in some areas over the past year. There was even talk of a rent increase freeze in Victoria, which would put put a halt to all rent increases and ideally calm the market.

This increase can be attributed to a combination of limited rental supply and high demand, leading to a fiercely competitive market that pushes prices upwards. How much rent you can afford then is also impacted by the inflated prices.

Decreased rental supply

The supply of rental properties has been dwindling, partly due to government policies that have discouraged new construction. 

Additionally, some investors have opted to sell their rental properties, further reducing the availability of rental homes. The result is a strained rental market with fewer options for tenants.

Vacancy rates at an all-time low

Vacancy rates have hit record lows across major Australian cities. In Sydney, the vacancy rate has dropped to a staggering 1.3%, making it incredibly difficult for tenants to find suitable rental properties. With such fierce competition, renters are often left with little choice but to accept high rents and unfavourable lease terms.

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The impact of the rent crisis

So, what is the result of this lack of rental property on the open market? We look at some of them below:

Struggling renters

The rent crisis has hit renters the hardest. Faced with rising living costs and limited affordable housing options, many Australians are struggling to make ends meet. Renters who generally pay a third of the percentage of their income on rent are forced to pay out more.

International students and low-income households are particularly vulnerable, as they often lack the financial resources to compete in the cutthroat rental market.

Landlords and real estate agents navigating the crisis

Landlords and real estate agents are also feeling the effects of the rent crisis. While higher rent prices may initially seem advantageous, maintaining tenant satisfaction and retention becomes increasingly difficult. 

Balancing profitability with tenant retention is a delicate task in the current market.

Effects on the broader housing market

The rental crisis is closely tied to the broader housing crisis in Australia, as new data shows. The lack of affordable rental options has led to increased demand for social housing and has driven property prices even higher. 

The government and the community are now grappling with the consequences of this crisis, which affects not only tenants and landlords but the entire Australian housing market.

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Addressing the rent crisis

There are a few steps that may work in fixing this rent crisis:

Government intervention and support

The government plays a crucial role in addressing the rent crisis. By investing in social housing and implementing affordable housing initiatives, they can help to alleviate some of the pressure on the rental market. 

Additionally, tax incentives for landlords and investors can encourage the development of more affordable rental properties.

Strategies for tenants

Tenants can employ various strategies to navigate the challenging rental market. For instance, they can explore more affordable housing options in regional areas or share the costs of renting with roommates. 

Working closely with real estate agents can also help tenants secure suitable rental properties in high-demand areas.

There’s also such a thing as bond assistance in Victoria as well as other states. This can help those struggling with the bond payment.

Long-term solutions for Australia’s rental market

To address the rent crisis in the long term, a more balanced rental market must be established. Increasing rental supply through new construction and implementing policy changes that encourage a stable market will be crucial in tackling this ongoing issue.

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More on the renting crisis in Australia

How do I get a rental property in a hot market?

Here are a few tips on how to get a rental property in a hot market:

  • Start your search early. The best rental properties tend to go quickly, so it’s important to start your search early. This will give you more time to find a property that meets your needs and budget.
  • Be prepared to act fast. When you find a property that you like, be prepared to act fast. Contact the agent immediately and let them know that you’re interested. If you wait too long, the property could be rented to someone else.
  • Have your paperwork ready. When you apply for a rental property, you’ll need to provide the agent with some basic paperwork, such as your proof of income, rental history, and references. Make sure you have all of this paperwork ready before you start applying for properties.

Personal references are also important. If you’ve taken time to gather the right ones for your application, it’ll be a good sign when the real estate agent call your references during the approval process.

A hot market can turn into a rental crisis, so be prepared with these tips and read up more on things like how to write a cover letter for your rental application.

How have rent prices changed in the past year?

Rent prices have seen a significant increase, particularly in capital cities like Melbourne, due to a combination of factors such as limited supply and high demand. Sydney’s rental crisis is the same. Some areas have experienced rent price surges of more than 10% within a year.

What can renters do to cope with the housing crisis?

Renters can explore affordable housing options, work closely with every real estate agent to secure properties, and consider sharing costs with roommates or moving to regional areas with lower rent prices. Staying informed about government initiatives and support programs can also help renters navigate the challenging market.

What role does the government play in addressing the rent crisis?

The government develops affordable housing initiatives and social housing programs. It can also initiate tax incentives for landlords and investors to encourage a balanced rental market.

Soho is your expert team in Australian real estate, offering an innovative platform for effortless property searches. With deep insights into buying, renting, and market trends, we guide you to make informed decisions, whether it's your first home or exploring new suburbs.
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