“Time to Act”: Australia’s Rental Crisis

By: Mike Crooks

As rent prices continue to soar throughout Australia, a new study has revealed the most affordable – and most expensive – areas to call home.

A new study by Renovation Capital evaluated various regions across the nation and found that the Melbourne Inner region was the best place to find an affordable rental. The region includes the city, Docklands, Port Phillip and Yarra.

The Richmond-Tweed area in NSW, also known as the Northern Rivers, was the most expensive.

The conclusions were drawn through various data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including the renting population and the average income.

The areas examined were Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4) regions, which have at least a population of 100,000.

Best rents

Not only did Melbourne Inner score well in the study, other areas in Melbourne, including the SA4 areas of Melbourne West and Melbourne Inner South, came high on the list.

“Despite being located in a major city, the rent here is relatively affordable,” read the report of Melbourne Inner.

“Furthermore, residents enjoy various amenities such as restaurants, bars, and convenient public transportation options.”

The Australian Capital Territory also scored high on rental affordability.

“It stands out for its relatively low median weekly rent of $651, particularly noteworthy considering the territory’s compact size,” the report stated.

Pricey abodes

Surprisingly, a Sydney region does not top the list of the most expensive rentals.

Instead, the Richmond-Tweed region in NSW, which includes Byron Bay, is the least affordable place to rent in Australia in 2023.

Though the average weekly rent of $711 is less than Sydney regions, the report takes into consideration the income of the area and its popularity.

“Even though it is located in a regional part of New South Wales, its appealing facilities and scenic landscapes make it a popular choice among tenants,” the report stated.

Also high on the expensive list is Queensland’s Gold Cost and Sunshine Coast.

Sydney’s eastern suburbs came in at 7th.

“With an average weekly rent of $1289, these suburbs are sought after due to their proximity to the city centre, beaches, and the amenities they provide,” read the report.

Rental relief?

So as living costs continue to rise, does the government need to step in to help quell rental pain?

“Yes, Australian governments should do more to regulate rents,” Dr Alistair Sisson, a research fellow Macquarie University’s School of Social Sciences, said.

“There are numerous jurisdictions around the world that do so, and it does help make housing more affordable.”

It appears to have worked in Canberra, which scored high on the affordability scale in the study.

“The ACT has a policy of limiting rent increases to 110 per cent of local rent inflation,” Dr Sisson said. “In other words, to no more than 10 per cent more than the rate at which rents have grown throughout the city since the tenant commenced their lease – or last incurred a rent increase from their landlord.”

A need for more housing

Experts have pointed out that while rents continue to rise, support is needed for those most in need.

At present, those on lower incomes can apply for relief through the Commonwealth Rent Assistance scheme.

“The government should provide more Commonwealth Rent Assistance and should expand it so more people are eligible,” Dr Sisson said.

But he points out this should only be seen as an interim solution. What is needed, Dr Sisson said, is significant investment in public housing.

“It’s only through investment in public housing at scale that we can guarantee decent quality housing that’s affordable to people on low incomes,” he said.

Road ahead

According to experts, if federal and state governments fail to act in appropriate measures, the problem will only get worse.

“There are nearly 175,000 households on public housing waiting lists but the collective ambitions of governments around add up to maybe a quarter of that at best,” Dr Sisson said

“There are nearly 175,000 households on public housing waiting lists but the collective ambitions of governments around add up to maybe a quarter of that at best,” – Dr Alistair Sisson, Macquarie University

The Lists

Here are the top-10 lists from the rental affordability study by Renovation Capital.

The 10 Most Affordable Places to Rent in Australia in 2023

  1. Melbourne – Inner
  2. Melbourne – West
  3. Australian Capital Territory
  4. Melbourne – Inner South
  5. Melbourne – North East
  6. Melbourne – Inner East
  7. Queensland – Outback
  8. Melbourne – North West
  9. Melbourne – Outer East
  10. Western Australia – Wheat Belt

The 10 Least Affordable Places to Rent in Australia in 2023

  1. Richmond – Tweed, NSW
  2. Gold Coast, Qld
  3. Sunshine Coast, Qld
  4. Coffs Harbour – Grafton, NSW
  5. Mandurah, WA
  6. Mid North Coast, NSW
  7. Sydney – Eastern Suburbs
  8. Bunbury, WA
  9. Western Australia – Outback (North)
  10. Moreton Bay – North, Qld

Learn more

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash