Rental crisis in Melbourne: A Struggle for affordable housing

By Maria Irene
Representational Photo by Brian Babb on Unsplash

Rental crisis in Melbourne has become a growing concern for tenants, as finding a suitable place to call home becomes increasingly difficult. With vacancy rates at near-record lows and little improvement seen in the December quarter, competition for rental properties is fierce. This is a situation that renters in larger cities such as New York and San Francisco are all too familiar with, having faced similar rental crises in the past.

Janakai K, an international student in Melbourne, faced this crisis firsthand. She found a share accommodation on Facebook MarketPlace upon her arrival in August, but after six months, her landlord increased the rent by 25%, making it as expensive as a one-bedroom unit in Melbourne’s inner city. This forced Janakai and her friend, Sarika, to search for an apartment together. Both are working women in their early 20s and have found full-time employment that pays over 65k per annum. However, finding accommodation has become almost impossible for them.

“To my surprise, there are at least 20 applicants to each of these properties. It’s a real crisis. We are young, single women, with no pets, with a decent bank balance and no kids. Still, finding a suitable place in the range of 1300 has been a nightmare,” says Janakai. Sarika adds, “We have visited over 20 properties in the last 2 months. Most of the time, we don’t even get a rejection from the landlord or real estate agents. The properties are just inundated with applicants.”

Experts suggest that the key to success in the current rental market is speed and efficiency during the application process. Properties in tight markets are often leased immediately after the first open inspection, leaving little room for error for prospective tenants. This means that renters must be prepared and organized when searching for a home. They should have all of their paperwork in order, including references, and be able to move quickly when they find a place they like.

To increase their chances of success, tenants are being advised to be organized when searching for a home. This includes preparing applications before an inspection, talking to references (including for pets) to make sure they’re ready to write one or take a phone call, and writing a cover letter to introduce themselves to the landlord. This cover letter should highlight the tenants strengths, such as their ability to pay rent on time, their ability to take care of the property, and their willingness to communicate with the landlord if there are any issues.

New application software like 2Apply has lessened the burden on some renters.

These new software have made the process of applying for rental properties much more efficient, as renters can apply for multiple properties with just a few clicks of a button. However, it’s important to remember that even though these software can make the process of applying for a rental property easier, it’s still important to make a good first impression and to have a well-prepared application.

In addition to being organized and efficient, tenants are also resorting to other tactics to increase their chances of being approved. Some tenants are offering more money to secure a rental, despite the practice of solicited rental bidding being outlawed in some states. This is a tactic that renters in larger cities like New York and San Francisco have also used in the past, in order to increase their chances of getting a place to live. However, it’s important to remember that this practice is illegal in some states and can lead to serious legal consequences if caught.

Others are rehoming their pets or offering longer leases. This is a difficult decision for many renters, as they often have to choose between their beloved pets and finding a place to live. However, in a tight rental market, landlords often have the upper hand and can be more selective about who they choose to rent to. Renters may have to make the difficult decision to rehome their pets or offer longer leases in order to increase their chances of being approved.

The rental crisis in Melbourne is a reflection of the larger housing affordability problem in Australia.

The high demand for rental properties and the limited supply has led to skyrocketing rents and fierce competition for available units. This is particularly concerning for low-income renters and vulnerable groups such as single parents, students, and elderly people.

The government and other organizations must focus on addressing the underlying issues that are causing the rental crisis, such as a lack of affordable housing and a shortage of rental properties. This could include measures such as increasing government funding for social housing, providing incentives for landlords to offer long-term leases and rental assistance for low-income renters.

The rental crisis in Melbourne is a dire situation for tenants, with many struggling to find a home in the competitive market. With vacancy rates at near-record lows, tenants must be fast and efficient in their search and be prepared to take whatever measures necessary to increase their chances of being approved. This includes being organized, efficient and making a good first impression. However, the crisis also highlights the need for more affordable housing options and government intervention to address the underlying issues.

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