Rental Crisis in Brisbane: What Can We Do?

February 22, 2024

Key takeaways:

    • Rental Crisis Brisbane: Understanding the problem and its impacts on tenants & communities.

    • Government, Council & Private Sector must work together to create social/affordable housing solutions for all residents.

    • Regional Queensland needs creative solutions such as expanding housing types to address rental crisis beyond Brisbane.

Brisbane is in the grip of a “catastrophic” rental crisis, with skyrocketing rental prices, housing supply shortages, and increased demand. These factors are taking a toll on tenants and communities alike, as more people struggle to find affordable housing.

So, what can we do to address this critical issue? In this blog post, we will explore the rental crisis in Brisbane, its impact on tenants and communities, and potential solutions that involve government intervention, Brisbane City Council’s role, and private sector involvement.

Thinking of making a move over there? You should check out our review of the best suburbs in Brisbane for first home buyers before you go!

Understanding the Brisbane Rental Crisis

The rental crisis in Brisbane has reached alarming levels, with property management companies struggling to meet the demand for affordable housing. A significant increase in demand for sharehouse living has been witnessed, with as many as 120 people vying for a single available room in some Queensland suburbs.

High-rise developers are unable to quickly provide diverse and affordable housing, further impacting tenants and contributing to the crisis.

The Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) for Kurilpa Point has been suggested as a solution to enhance housing supply, diversity, and affordability, which could potentially benefit a significant percentage of Brisbane’s population facing the rental crisis.

Causes of the Rental Crisis

The rental crisis in Brisbane, and indeed across Australia, is a complex issue with no single root cause. Understanding the various factors at play is crucial to finding effective solutions. Here, we delve deeper into three key contributors to the crisis:

1. International Migration:

While international borders were closed during the pandemic, the recent influx of international migrants has significantly impacted the rental market. Queensland, with its attractive climate and job opportunities, has witnessed a surge in arrivals.

This sudden increase in demand has put immense pressure on the existing housing stock, particularly in areas with high job concentrations like Brisbane.

Impact Analysis:

  • Increased Demand: Statistics from the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office show a significant rise in net overseas migration to Queensland, with over 16,250 individuals expected to arrive annually. This directly translates to more people competing for a limited pool of rental properties. 
  • Rent Price Inflation: The increased demand has led to a surge in rental prices. Median rents for houses in Brisbane have jumped by 33% since March 2020, with apartments experiencing a 23% increase. This data can be found in independent research by SQM Research.
  • Geographical Impact: The impact of international migration is unevenly distributed. Areas popular with migrants, such as inner-city suburbs and university districts, experience the most significant rent increases and tighter vacancy rates. 

2. Short-Term Rental Platforms:

The rise of short-term rental platforms like Airbnb has had a mixed impact on the rental market. While they offer additional income opportunities for property owners, they also contribute to the rental shortage in some areas.

Impact Analysis:

  • Reduced Rental Stock: A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) suggests that short-term rentals account for up to 5% of the rental stock in some Australian cities. This reduces the available long-term rental options.
  • Price Fluctuations: Short-term rentals often command higher prices than long-term rentals, further contributing to overall rent inflation. This can be observed by comparing rental listings on traditional rental platforms and short-term rental platforms for similar properties in the same area.
  • Community Displacement: Concerns exist that short-term rentals can displace residents from neighbourhoods, particularly in areas with high tourist appeal. 
  • This can disrupt community dynamics and contribute to social and economic challenges. This is a complex issue with multiple studies and perspectives. 

3. Other Contributing Factors:

Beyond international migration and short-term rentals, other factors play a role in the rental crisis:

  • Slow Housing Construction: The rate of new housing construction hasn’t kept pace with population growth, creating a supply shortage that fuels rising prices.
    This is highlighted in reports by the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works and the Property Council of Australia.
  • Affordability Challenges: Rising living costs, including wages not keeping up with inflation, make it harder for tenants to afford rent, leading to housing stress and potential displacement. 
  • Investment Strategies: Some investors purchase properties solely for short-term rentals or as speculative investments, further reducing available rental options.

Rising rental prices

The median rent for a sharehouse room in Brisbane has jumped to $260 per week, witnessing a considerable increase over the past year.

Between March 2020 and September 2022, rental prices for houses in Brisbane have surged by 33%, while rental prices for apartments have risen by 23%.

This trend has exacerbated the rental crisis, causing the median renter’s payment to increase by $150, from $500 to $650, affecting tenants across Brisbane, including those in Brisbane’s south.

If you’re curious about the average rent in Brisbane, it has seen significant fluctuations over recent years.

The situation is further intensified by fierce competition, But why is this happening? Delving into the reasons why rent is so expensive in Brisbane can offer some insights.

This drastic increase in rental prices is putting immense pressure on tenants, many of whom are unable to cope with the mounting costs. Low-income families and individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to secure affordable housing, resulting in heightened stress levels and financial strain.

The rising rental prices have also led to a surge in homelessness and housing insecurity, further complicating the rental crisis in Brisbane.

Housing supply shortage

Brisbane, including Brisbane’s south, is grappling with an estimated housing shortage of approximately 650,000 units. This housing supply shortage is attributed to numerous factors, including:

  • Reduced individuals per household
  • Interstate migration
  • Cost of living pressures
  • Global supply chain disruptions
  • Trades shortages
  • Lack of land suitable for residential housing

The combination of these factors is creating a perfect storm, exacerbating the rental crisis and making it increasingly challenging for tenants to find affordable housing.

Addressing the housing supply shortage is a crucial aspect of tackling the rental crisis. By increasing the availability of affordable rental properties, the rental market could stabilize, and rental prices may gradually decrease.

However, this requires concerted efforts from both the government and private sectors to identify suitable land, streamline construction processes, and overcome other challenges that are hindering the expansion of the housing supply.

Increased demand

On the flip side, the heightened demand for rental properties in Brisbane has been primarily driven by an influx of migrants to the city. This surge in demand is also evident when we look at the best suburbs to invest in Brisbane, showing a trend towards areas with a higher demand for rentals.

Consequently, this has further complicated the rental crisis in Brisbane, as more people are competing for a limited number of rental properties, leading to fierce competition and a surge in rental prices.

The Impact of the Rental Crisis on Tenants and Communities

rental crisis brisbane

The rental crisis has a profound impact on tenants and communities in Brisbane, with renters facing rising housing costs, low vacancy rates, and limited available properties.

Housing stress, defined as when tenants pay more than one-third of their income towards rent, is a growing concern, especially in certain areas. To put things in perspective, some of the cheapest suburbs in Brisbane still see renters facing significant financial strain.

Furthermore, the rental crisis is exacerbating inequality and putting further strain on community resources. The crisis has also resulted in a shift in the demographics of those affected, with young children and families bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Housing stress

Housing stress burdens tenants in Brisbane. Over 10% in Logan, Beaudesert, and the Gold Coast pay more than a third of their income on rent, impacting their well-being. Government intervention and Brisbane City Council actions to increase affordable housing supply are crucial to alleviate this stress.

This reduces the word count by 40% while still conveying the key points:

  • The prevalence of housing stress in specific areas.
  • Its negative impact on tenants.
  • Potential solutions involving government and city council actions.

Affordability for welfare recipients

The rental crisis in Brisbane has hit welfare recipients particularly hard. Statistics show that:

  • Less than one percent of rentals in Brisbane are within the budget range of welfare recipients
  • This places them in a precarious situation with regards to housing
  • With the increasing rental prices, it has become increasingly challenging for welfare recipients to find affordable housing options.

As a result, many are left with little choice but to live in substandard conditions or face the prospect of homelessness.

Immediate Actions for Tenants Facing the Rental Crisis:

The rental crisis can be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to protect your rights and navigate this challenging situation. Here are some immediate actions you can consider:

1. Know Your Rights:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld): This Act outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in Queensland. 
  • Understand your lease agreement: Carefully review your lease agreement to understand your specific rights and obligations regarding rent, repairs, and termination.

2. Seek Legal Advice:

  • Contact a community legal centre or tenant advocacy service: These organizations can provide free or low-cost legal advice and support on tenancy issues. 
  • Consider consulting a private lawyer: If your situation is complex or you require more personalized legal advice, consulting a lawyer specializing in tenancy law may be beneficial.

3. Connect with Tenant Unions:

  • Join a tenant union: Tenant unions advocate for the rights of tenants and can provide support, advice, and resources during the rental crisis. 

4. Explore Government Assistance Programs:

  • Queensland Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy: The Queensland government offers various housing assistance programs, including rent subsidies and bond loans. 
  • National Shelter: National Shelter provides information and resources on homelessness and housing insecurity.

5. Document Everything:

  • Keep copies of all communication with your landlord: This includes emails,text messages, and written notices.
  • Document any repairs or maintenance issues: Take photos and keep records of when you reported the issues and the landlord’s response.

6. Stay Informed:

  • Follow reputable news sources and organizations for updates on the rental crisis and available resources: This will help you stay informed about your rights and potential solutions.

Remember: You are not alone. By taking these steps and seeking help when needed, you can navigate the rental crisis and advocate for your rights as a tenant.

Social and Affordable Housing Solutions

To address the rental crisis in Brisbane, a multi-faceted approach is required, involving government intervention, the Brisbane City Council’s role, and private sector involvement.

By working together, these stakeholders can help to increase the supply of affordable rental properties and improve the overall housing situation in Brisbane.

  • Government: Consider rental caps, pilot build-to-rent schemes with subsidized units, and streamlined development processes.
  • Council: Implement zoning changes and incentives to encourage affordable housing construction.
  • Private Sector: Increase affordable rental stock through new builds, renovations,and partnerships with government on build-to-rent programs.


  • Increased supply of affordable housing
  • Reduced housing stress for tenants
  • Improved overall housing accessibility

Key Message: Collaborative action from government, council, and private sector is crucial for sustainable solutions to Brisbane’s rental crisis.

Regional Queensland: Addressing the Rental Crisis Beyond Brisbane

rental crisis brisbane

While the rental crisis in Brisbane is of significant concern, it is crucial to recognize that the issue extends beyond the city boundaries.

Addressing the rental crisis in regional Queensland, including examining the Gold Coast rental market and expanding housing types, is essential in finding comprehensive solutions that benefit all Queensland residents.

Gold Coast rental market

The Gold Coast rental market is also facing challenges similar to those in Brisbane, with high demand, increasing prices, and a tight rental supply. The median rent for houses in the Gold Coast is $1,073 per week, while the median rent for units is $741 per week.

The vacancy rate in the central Gold Coast is currently at a mere 1%, making it extremely difficult to secure a lease in the area.

Addressing the rental crisis in the Gold Coast requires attention and solutions similar to those being implemented in Brisbane. Some possible solutions include:

  • Government intervention
  • Active involvement of the Brisbane City Council in providing affordable housing
  • Incentives for the private sector to invest in the rental market

These measures should be considered to help alleviate the rental crisis on the Gold Coast.

Expanding housing types

To address the rental crisis in regional Queensland, it is essential to consider expanding housing types, including:

  • Affordable and social housing
  • Co-housing
  • Tiny homes
  • Manufactured homes

By diversifying housing types, the availability of rental properties can be increased, potentially lowering rental costs and providing more choices for tenants.

This expansion can contribute to job creation and economic growth in regional Queensland, benefiting local communities and helping to alleviate the rental crisis.


In conclusion, the rental crisis in Brisbane and regional Queensland is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach involving government intervention, Brisbane City Council’s role, and private sector involvement.

By working together, these stakeholders can help increase the supply of affordable rental properties, alleviate housing stress, and improve the overall housing situation for all residents.

Addressing the rental crisis is not only crucial for the well-being of tenants and communities, but also for the long-term prosperity and growth of Brisbane and regional Queensland.

Additional Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is causing rental crisis in Queensland?

Queensland’s rental crisis is being caused by an imbalance between demand and supply, with insufficient rental housing available to meet the rising demand. Median rents have risen significantly in the past five years, placing further pressure on the already tight market.

How bad is the rental crisis in Australia?

The rental crisis in Australia has been at its worst in the last 20 years, with vacancy rates remaining very low and combined rents at an all-time high of $542 per week.

Furthermore, rental affordability is now at its lowest level in nearly a decade, with households spending up to a third of their income on rent.

What is the rental crisis in Australia 2023?

The rental crisis in Australia 2023 is grave, with 640,000 households facing housing stress or homelessness and 42% of low-income households spending more than 30% of their income on rent.

This number is expected to rise to almost one million by 2041.

What factors have contributed to the rental crisis in Brisbane?

The rental crisis in Brisbane is largely attributed to increasing demand for rental properties and a shortage of housing supply, leading to rising rental prices.

This has caused a great deal of financial strain on many households, as they struggle to keep up with the rising costs of rent.

The government has taken steps to address the issue, such as introducing rent assistance.

How does the rental crisis impact tenants and communities?

The rental crisis has devastating effects on tenants and communities, leading to housing stress, unaffordability, homelessness, and insecurity.

It is a problem that affects people of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in many cities.

Renters are often forced to make difficult choices.

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