Rental Crisis Melbourne: What Can Be Done?

March 8, 2024
rental crisis melbourne

Key takeaways:

  • Melbourne’s rental market remains strained: Vacancy rates are critically low, rents are rising, and affordability is a major concern.
  • Multiple factors contribute to the crisis: High migration, smaller households, limited new supply, and insufficient affordable options are key drivers.
  • Potential solutions: Options like rent control, increasing social housing, and supporting renters/first-time buyers can be part of the solution.

The rental crisis in Melbourne surges on, continuing to face significant challenges characterised by high competition, rising rents, and a critical shortage of affordable housing options.

Struggling to find a rental because of the skyrocketing rental prices and fierce competition for available properties? It might be wise to understand exactly what is going on with this crisis, learn about recent developments and explore potential solutions.

The Current State of Melbourne’s Rental Market


  • The vacancy rate in Melbourne remains critically low, hovering around 1.2%, indicating intense competition for available properties.
  • Median rent prices in Melbourne have continued to rise, reaching $565 per week.
  • Rising interest rates have added an additional layer of complexity for renters and potential first-home buyers.

The rental market in Melbourne continues to be a challenge as it currently faces difficulties due to high migration, smaller household sizes, and increasing rental prices. These factors result in a competitive and stretched housing supply.

The Reserve Bank cautioned that the demand for floorspace had increased as people worked from home, further contributing to the crisis.

The competition is exceptionally high to secure a lease in Melbourne, making it difficult for rental crisis renters to find affordable housing.

High Migration and Housing Demand

The city’s rental market is feeling the strain largely due to international migration. The high influx of people relocating to Melbourne has led to a sharp decrease in housing supply, feeding into the crisis.

The vacancy rate in Victoria is at a record low of 1.2%, posing challenges for those looking for rental properties in Melbourne.

Renters are facing an uphill battle to secure a property in the tight rental market, with competition for rental properties.

Smaller Household Sizes Increases Competition

An added challenge to Melbourne’s rental market is the shift towards smaller household sizes. This trend results in increased competition for available housing, which consequently drives up rental prices. For those exploring the best places to rent in Melbourne, this shift makes the hunt even more challenging.

This has a direct impact on the affordability of housing in the city, as the demand for housing increases.

Suggested reading: Increase your potential of scoring a rental within your budget by understanding the best month to rent a home in Melbourne.

Rising Rental Prices

House and unit rentals in Melbourne have been increasing over the past seven quarters with the median rent in Melbourne currently around $565, according to Corelogic.

VCOSS reported that only 2% of rental properties were affordable for those who rely on commonwealth income support. Moreover, only 18% of such properties were suitable for households living on the minimum wage.

The continuous rise in rental prices puts immense pressure on renters, making it increasingly challenging for them to find suitable and affordable housing options.

For renters on a budget, exploring the cheapest suburbs to rent in Melbourne can offer some reprieve.

How the Rental Crisis in Melbourne Affects Mental Health

rental crisis melbourne challnenges

Renters in Melbourne face several challenges due to the competitive rental market, including:

  • Housing insecurity
  • Low living standards
  • Safety concerns
  • Overcrowding

These challenges have an adverse effect on individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including those with secure employment and positive rental histories.

The lack of affordable housing options in Melbourne has led to an increase in rental prices.

Housing Insecurity

Housing insecurity is a significant issue faced by renters in Melbourne. Factors such as month-by-month leases, record rent increases, and a shortage of affordable housing contribute to this insecurity. While the Residential Tenancies are the residential houses.

The Act 1997 outlines regulations concerning the frequency of rent increments and the notification procedure for landlords to inform tenants of their intention to raise the rent, but it does not tackle the fundamental issues of an absence of affordable housing and record rent increases.

The current legislation does not provide a long-term solution to the problem of housing insecurity.

Low Living Standards

Renters in Melbourne often face low living standards due to:

  • inadequate insulation in rentals
  • exorbitant rental prices
  • limited availability of affordable housing
  • an absence of minimum standards for rental properties

These factors contribute to housing stress, financial strain, and potential health risks for renters in Melbourne.

The lack of insulation, high rental prices, and limited availability of affordable housing all contribute to the lack of insulation.

Safety Concerns

Safety concerns for renters in Melbourne include:

  • Discrimination in the rental application process
  • Violent or hazardous behavior from other tenants or landlords
  • Issues with the condition of the rental property, such as water damage, asbestos, and other safety risks.

Rental discrimination can take many forms, such as refusing to rent to people of certain races.


The problem of overcrowding faced by renters in Melbourne is attributed to factors such as:

  • Poverty
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Increasing living costs
  • Rental stress

Many inhabitants of Melbourne are residing in overcrowded or inadequate housing due to the housing crisis and affordability stress.

The housing crisis has been exacerbated by the lack of affordable housing options in the city. Renters are tenants of the property.

3 Potential Solutions to Address the Rental Crisis

rental crisis melbourne

To address the rental crisis in Melbourne, potential solutions include rent caps and freezes, build-to-rent projects, and increased social housing. Each of these solutions aims to alleviate the pressure on the rental market and provide more affordable housing options for those in need.

1. Rent Caps and Freezes

Rent caps and freezes, while controversial, could potentially provide a solution to the rental crisis by preventing rapid increases in rent that could displace existing tenants.

However, industry stakeholders such as the Real Estate Institute of Victoria argue that a rent cap could be detrimental to the rental market, discouraging new investors from entering and augmenting the supply of rentals.

The Victorian government is considering introducing rent caps and new taxes on owners of Airbnbs and vacant properties as potential measures to alleviate the rental crisis in Melbourne.

While rent caps and freezes might help some renters in the short term, it is essential to find long-term solutions that address the root causes of the rental crisis and ensure a stable and affordable housing market for all.

2. Build-to-Rent Projects

Build-to-rent projects have the potential to address the rental crisis in Melbourne by providing a steady supply of rental housing. These projects involve the construction of purpose-built rental housing developments, typically owned and managed by a single entity.

However, it is important to note that build-to-rent projects in Melbourne are currently targeting wealthier renters due to the cost of construction and the requirement for a long-term investment strategy.

3. Increased Social Housing

Increasing social housing is a crucial solution to address the rental crisis and support vulnerable renters. The supply of affordable housing can be increased by constructing at least 6000 new social housing dwellings across Victoria.

Social housing can provide stable and secure housing options for vulnerable populations, thereby reducing homelessness and improving overall housing stability in the city.

Investment in social housing is an important step towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society. It is.

Government and Industry Solutions

rental crisis melbourne - government solutions

The Victorian government and industry stakeholders are responding to the rental crisis with various initiatives and perspectives. Some of these responses include increased social housing, build-to-rent projects, and increased rental assistance.

However, not all stakeholders agree on the best approach to address the rental crisis.

Victorian Government Initiatives

The Victorian government is considering introducing the following measures to alleviate the rental crisis in Melbourne:

  • Rent caps
  • New taxes on owners of Airbnbs and vacant properties
  • Rental bidding, which would enable renters to bid on rental properties in order to secure a more favorable agreement.

Rental bidding would allow renters to compete for the best rental agreement, while rent caps.

Industry Stakeholder Perspectives

Industry stakeholders have differing opinions on rent caps, freezes, and other potential solutions to the rental crisis. Some argue that further intervention could act as a deterrent to investors in a market which is in need of increased supply.

Others believe that addressing the issue requires cooperation between all levels of government to impose rent caps and increase the housing supply.

Alternative Approaches to Boost Housing Supply

In addition to the potential solutions discussed earlier, alternative approaches to boost housing supply in Melbourne include incentivizing foreign investors, adopting Singapore-style public housing, and converting Airbnb properties.

These approaches can help address the rental crisis by increasing the availability of affordable housing options.

Incentivising Foreign Investors

Decreasing or eliminating taxes for foreign investors that provide newly constructed dwellings for rent could assist in increasing the housing supply.

Incentivising foreign investors has the potential to boost housing supply in Melbourne, as foreign purchases are typically concentrated in new and higher-priced dwellings, which could lead to the construction of more housing units.

This could help address the current housing shortage in the city, as well as provide more affordable housing.

Singapore-Style Public Housing

Singapore’s public housing model, where the government-run Housing and Development Board provides quality, affordable housing, including rental units for lower-middle-income families and units with a 99-year lease, could provide affordable housing options for Melbourne’s renters.

However, implementing this model would require significant government investment and commitment to address the rental crisis.

Converting Airbnb Properties

Encouraging Airbnb hosts to switch to long-term rentals could help alleviate the rental crisis. The government could provide incentives to landlords to encourage them to keep their properties in the market as long-term rental properties, thereby increasing the availability of rental housing options in Melbourne.

This could help reduce the pressure on the rental market, as well as provide more affordable housing.

Supporting Renters and First-Home Buyers

rental crisis in melbourne - street in melbourne

Providing increased rental assistance, first-home buyer support, and fast-tracking visas for regional Victoria can support renters and alleviate pressure on the rental market. These measures can help renters secure affordable housing and assist first-home buyers in entering the property market.

Increased Rental Assistance

Providing increased rental assistance to lower-income households can enable them to meet their housing costs. The government has announced a $2.7 billion package to substantially augment Commonwealth Rental Assistance payments, which will assist in bridging the disparity between rental prices and rent assistance payments.

This support can help renters in Melbourne afford housing and potentially accumulate savings for a deposit to purchase their first home.

First-Home Buyer Support

First-home buyer support, such as the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) and stamp duty concessions, as well as rent-to-own schemes, can assist first-home buyers in purchasing a property.

These support programs can also help reduce pressure on rental listings, as more people are able to purchase their homes and move out of the rental market.

This can help to create a more balanced housing market, with more options for both buyers and sellers.

Fast-Tracking Visas for Regional Victoria

Fast-tracking visas for regional areas can help distribute housing demand and alleviate the rental crisis in Melbourne. This approach could encourage people to move to regional areas with better vacancy rates, reducing population growth in densely populated rental markets.

Providing renters and first-home buyers with additional housing options could help ease the pressure on the rental market in Melbourne.


In conclusion, the rental crisis in Melbourne is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to address.

Potential solutions such as rent caps and freezes, build-to-rent projects, increased social housing, incentivizing foreign investors, Singapore-style public housing, converting Airbnb properties, increased rental assistance, first-home buyer support, and fast-tracking visas for regional Victoria all have their merits.

Ultimately, it is crucial for the government, industry stakeholders, and the wider community to come together and implement a combination of these solutions to provide affordable and secure housing options for all Melbourne residents.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Rental Crisis in Melbourne

Why is it so hard to get a rental property in Melbourne?

With a tight rental vacancy rate of 1.2% and increasing demand due to a growing number of short-stay rentals, it has become increasingly difficult to find an affordable rental property in Melbourne.

The rising prices and lack of supply have made it hard to get a rental property in the city.

What is the rental crisis in Australia 2024?

The rental crisis in Australia 2024 has been exacerbated by the country’s growing population, with vacancy rates at an all-time low of 1.2%. Rents have increased significantly, rising 10.2% in December and putting immense financial pressure on renters.

The situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.

How can increased social housing help address the rental crisis?

Increasing social housing can help address the rental crisis by providing stable and secure housing options for vulnerable populations, reducing homelessness, and improving overall housing stability in the city.

This can have a positive impact on the community, as it can lead to increased economic activity, improved access to services, and a better quality of life for those living in the area.

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