Australia's rental crisis: a one-two punch

Car seen driving away from the camera with owner's belongings tied to the top.
Source: ms uppy on Unsplash

Australia's rental scene just got a bit more dire according to PropTrack, whose Market Insight Report released today unveiled that the national rental vacancy rate dropped to a record low of 1.07% in February*.

And if that wasn't enough, a previous report from the same firm showed that rental affordability is the worst it's been since they began tracking it 17 years ago - with only 39% of rentals considered affordable for those with a median income.

That means if you do finally manage to find a place to rent, you probably can't afford it.

*We reported last week on figures issued by showing that vacancy rates in Feb hit a low of 0.7%. This is due to a difference in methodologies between PropTrack and Domain, but either number is equally concerning.

Sydney bearing the brunt, but all rental markets affected

Sydney is in a particularly tight spot, experiencing one of the sharpest declines in vacancy rates (-0.3% since last year), all while New South Wales grapples with some of the worst affordability issues in the country.

It's not just Sydney and NSW though; both of PropTrack's recent reports spell out a dual crisis gripping the entire country.

Looking for a silver lining on costly housing 

Speaking of Domain, their report suggested a slight relaxation in rental competition, hinting at a potential slow shift towards a more balanced market.

However, with PropTrack's latest findings on affordability, it's evident that simply reducing competition isn't enough to solve the more severe affordability issue.

In response to the rental crisis and the related affordable housing crisis, the government is taking steps such as partnering with super funds to boost the supply of affordable housing. Together with support mechanisms like Commonwealth Rent Assistance, these initiatives aim to tackle the affordability issue from multiple angles.

But is it enough? Until the needle starts moving in the other direction, it appears to be a case of every renter for themselves.

In fact, the SBS reported just recently that last year saw the biggest year-on-year increase of people living in their cars.

Yeah, it’s getting that bad.

Navigating through the storm of finding a home

This is usually where we explain the benefits of house and/or car insurance, which are important considerations. But if you are one of those people who are on the verge of having nowhere to live, we’d rather offer some ways you can get the help you need most.

For those facing housing challenges or homelessness in Australia, here's where you can find support:

  • Comprehensive support services. Ask Izzy is a central hub connecting you to food, shelter, and healthcare services.
  • Shelter and accommodation services. Mission Australia offers extensive services to help individuals and families find stable housing and recovery programs. The Australian Red Cross provides safe housing and essential services for those at risk.
  • Foodbanks and soup kitchens. For immediate food support, OzHarvest and Foodbank Australia are there to help.
  • Healthcare services. Access medical, dental, and psychological care through community health centres and Homeless Healthcare.
  • Mental health services. For mental health support, Beyond Blue and Headspace offer counselling and assistance.
  • Employment services. Workforce Australia can aid unemployed individuals in finding work, an important step towards stability.
  • Legal and financial assistance. Navigate through legal and financial difficulties with help from Legal Aid and the National Debt Helpline.

Make your voice heard

Reaching out to your local, state and federal representatives about the housing affordability crisis can also make a significant difference. It's about advocating for solutions to ensure accessible housing for everyone.