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By Leanne Jopson

Melbourne rental crisis: low-income earners struggling to find affordable housing

Melbourne's rental crisis continues to get worse.

In fact, according to Sarah Petty's article in real, there's only one affordable suburb within 10km of Melbourne's CBD for most renters.

Just a year ago, a stretch from Footscray to Meadow Heights was affordable, with rent taking up 15-20% of the average household income of about $109,000.

Now, as of June 2023, all those choices are gone.

Aside from Brunswick West in Melbourne’s inner north, tenants now have to look as far as Sunshine in the region’s west to find a home within that same budget.


Low-income earners had been priced out of Melbourne’s rental market

According to the National Shelter and SGS Economics and Planning’s rental affordability Index, low-income earners like pensioners and single part-time working parents on benefits had been priced out of Melbourne’s rental market.

The Index also scored suburbs from 1-200 based on what share of a household’s income was spent on rent, with scores lower than 50 considered “extremely unaffordable” and scores above 151 deemed “affordable”.

National Shelter chief executive Emma Greenhalgh said there was no “safe harbour” when it came to finding somewhere affordable to live.

She further said:

“This isn’t something that is just about young single parents or older people who were renting and on pensions.

This is cutting across all demographics in Australia in the sense of who is able to have sufficient income to remain in their home while they’re having their rent increased, and in terms of the competition to source a rental property that might be affordable for them.”

Couples earning minimum wage or single-income families making around $91,800 to $99,800 annually would need to search as far as Melton, more than 45km from the CBD, to find an "affordable" rental.

Rental Affordability For Single Part Time

Meanwhile, pensioner couples earning about $58,000 a year seeking a two-bedroom home found the entire state virtually unaffordable.

Rental Affordability Pensioner Couple

Only the postcode 3636, including suburbs Numurkah, Invergordon, Naring, and Drumanure in Victoria's north, was considered "acceptable," allowing a pensioner couple to allocate no more than 20-25% of their income to rent.

The situation for renters remains "very worrying"

Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge said:

“Rental affordability is a challenge for people not just on very low incomes but is extending to Victorian households that have access to more resources and previously did not struggle, as they do now, to secure a safe, secure affordable home for themselves and their families."

People in regional Victoria are facing a tough time finding affordable rentals as prices reach all-time lows.

On average, households in regional Victoria earning about $81,500 a year are putting 27% of their income toward rent.

Sad Tenants

Conditions are getting worse in the Surf Coast and Geelong areas.

In Apollo Bay, renting became "severely unaffordable" by June 2023, with tenants spending 38-60% of their income on rent, compared to the "acceptable" affordability in 2019.

Ms Greenhalgh noted that:

"Despite significant investments in social and affordable housing through initiatives like the Housing Australia Future Fund, the Social Housing Accelerator, and the National Housing Accord, these efforts take time to make a meaningful impact.

What we need are products that give people meaningful relief right now so they can sustain their tenancies."

About Leanne Jopson Leanne is National Director of Property Management at Metropole and a Property Professional in every sense of the word. With 20 years' experience in real estate, Leanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to maximise returns and minimise stress for their clients.
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