Vacancies for rent hit a record low in February

“It really opened the floodgates,” she said, noting that searches for rentals on from China were up nearly 90 percent from December.


Powell said there is currently “no light at the end of the tunnel” for renters and that more affordable rental accommodation is badly needed to meet increased demand.

Tenant Farah Farouque, Victoria’s director of community engagement, said it’s been a distressing time for tenants, with renters facing stiff competition and steep rent increases, even on below-par properties.

“We’ve seen rents go from $30 a week to as high as $480 a week [per week] Raise for a shared apartment in Melbourne. These tenants had to move…they just couldn’t afford it,” she said.

“People make absolutely excruciating decisions about what bills to pay, whether to skip a meal to pay money on their rent… and we’ve had months of it,” she said.

Rent affordability had long been a challenge for low-income earners and those on government assistance, but it had become even more difficult when relatively affordable rents dried up in the outer suburbs. Middle-to-middle-income tenants, even those with good rental histories, would also feel the pressure, she said.

Increasing the supply of affordable rentals is key to tackling the crisis, Farouque said, but market intervention is also needed as the current approach is not working. One such intervention could be capping the amount of rent increases, as in the ACT.

Nancy Navarrete, a business development manager for property management at Ray White NSW, said the limited rental supply resulted in a large turnout for standard property inspections.

“You list a property online and it starts right away, some people apply before they’ve even seen a property and you see 30 to 40 people walking through two-bed apartments… it’s just crazy, it.” there are a lot of people looking and needing help,” she said.


Conditions in the NSW region have improved slightly, she noted, as some people returned from temporary sea and tree changes early in the pandemic, reducing rental demand.

Navarrete said competition is now fiercest in student-popular inner-city and inner-west suburbs, where demand and rental prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, increased competition had spread across the city as renters were pushed further afield to find affordable housing.

Navarrete said tenants continued to offer to pay above the advertised rent to try and secure a home, although agents have been banned from soliciting such offers.

There was also renewed demand for larger shared flats as the cost of renting alone or in pairs became prohibitive for some and they expected households to continue to consolidate as the cost of living rose. Vacancies for rent hit a record low in February

Brian Lowry

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