Melbourne’s rental crisis has deepened with the number of homes being advertised for rent at a decade low.
PropTrack’s latest rental report, released today, shows the total number of Melbourne homes listed for rent on realestate.com.au was 20.2 per cent down in September compared to a year ago, and 30.2 per cent below the five year average for the month.
It’s also the lowest level of listings for September in more than a decade.
Rental advocates have expressed alarm that rising rents, which set a new record last month, and scarce listings are driving some tenants to homelessness as a “disturbing trend of some landlords profiteering from the shortage of rental stock” emerges.
PropTrack director of economic research Cameron Kusher said Melbourne’s median weekly rent reached its highest level yet last month, hitting $500 for houses and $495 for units.
These figures stood at $460 for houses and $420 for units 12 months ago.
The city’s 1.15 per cent vacancy rate is also a record low, while the number of inquiries for each Melbourne rental listing rose by more than a third compared to September 2022.
“As far back as we’ve got, we haven’t seen lower rental vacancy rates, you would have to go back a long time to find a tougher time to be a renter,” Mr Kusher said.
Mr Kusher said capital city rents would likely continue increasing, with rising migration levels, a lack of rental housing developments and investors exiting the market contributing to the rental crisis.
Earlier this month, Australian Bureau of Statistics census data analysed by Informed Decision revealed Victorian tenants were competing for fewer than 8000 homes.
In June, the Property Investors Council of Australia described Victoria as the nation’s worst state for landlords after the state government announced land tax payment changes in 2024.
From January owners will pay land tax if their investment or secondary property, such as a holiday home, is worth $50,000 or more, compared to the current $300,000 threshold.
According to the state’s biggest real estate agency, Ray White, 38.5 per cent of its Melbourne auction sellers were investors in the year to date, compared to a 29 per cent figure nationally.
Tenants Victoria’s 2022-23 annual report stated some of the state’s 2 million renters had reported massive rent increases of more than $500 per week.
“We have seen a disturbing trend of some landlords profiteering from the shortage of rental stock as renters, unable to secure another home, are forced to accept unfairly high rent increases,” the report read.
“Of those who cannot pay the increased amount, many have told us that they risk becoming homeless due to being unable to secure another suitable home.”
Tenants Victoria’s director of community engagement Farah Farouque said people “on low and increasingly moderate incomes were feeling the most heat around affordability and supply of rental homes”.
“Having a paid job does not mean you are protected from housing insecurity anymore and, over time, traditionally affordable suburbs to rent have become less so,” Ms Farouque said.
Alesha Capone, Property Journalist