Haydn Buckland desperately searching for a Melbourne rental and he’s not alone

As the end of Haydn Buckland’s rental lease looms, he has joined a wave of Melbourne renters desperately searching for a property amid a major shortage, and an expert warns it could be months before the crisis starts to ease.

In December, Melbourne’s rental vacancy rate reached 1.5 per cent according to SQM Research data, and new PropTrack data revealed the city’s median rental price increased from $465 a week in December 2022 to $550 in December 2023, placing pressure on Melbourne renters.

Mr Buckland, a 28-year-old rail planner who moved to Melbourne from country Victoria about a decade ago, said the city’s rental climate was the most competitive he had seen it as he navigated steep rental prices and a shortage of suitable properties.

“It’s so so competitive. We’ve been looking for over the last month and a half as we approach the end of our lease and we’re still looking now,” he said.

Camera IconHaydn Buckland is just one of many Melbourne renters left in the lurch as the city experiences a major shortage in rental properties. Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

“We’ve probably inspected over 10 homes already and had no luck.

“This is probably the worst I’ve seen the market in my 10 years of renting.

“It’s the limited amount of listings available and then when you do manage to find a property that kind of suits what you’re looking for, you’re faced with 50 other applicants with the same mentality and same desires.”

Mr Buckland said he recently attended a Melbourne inspection where about 100 other renters turned up and queued 50m down the street, an all-too-familiar sight that has left him having to lower his expectations and possibly pay more than a property might be worth.

“You kind of get faced with the challenge now when looking for a place that you have to sacrifice one element of the search, so whether it be moving out further, getting a home that’s barely liveable or some other area you have to sacrifice for,” he said.

“Currently with the way the market is and how competitive it is, unless you want to not have a home, you kind of have to be open to it.”

Hordes of hopeful renters were filmed queuing up to inspect a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Flemington earlier this month.

Footage shows the line stretching for metres outside the apartment and down the street and the renter who captured the video told news.com.au they “don’t understand” how the rental crisis had reached such a dire point.

Finder’s head of consumer research Graham Cooke says it could be August before Melbourne's rental crisis begins to ease.
Camera IconFinder’s head of consumer research Graham Cooke says it could be August before Melbourne’s rental crisis begins to ease. Credit: News Corp Australia

Recent Finder research suggests three in five Australian renters have been forced to overlook property flaws in desperate attempts to secure a rental, including nearly 300,000 households who accepted a mould issue in order to secure the property.

Finder’s head of consumer research Graham Cooke said the number of rental listings in Melbourne had “gone down dramatically”, with recent CoreLogic data indicating there are 30,000 fewer properties available for rent in Melbourne than there were last year.

Mr Cooke said limited availability was pushing the cost of rental properties up and the price of a rental unit in Melbourne increased by 18 per cent in the past year.

“The fact that they’re (rental prices) going up indicates that there is the lack of supply,” he said.

“We did a cost-of-living study last year that found that people who rent are far more likely to be impacted by cost-of-living pressures.

“Anybody in that situation is really doing it tough right now.”

Mr Cooke added that the increasing prices were a result of the 14 RBA cash rate increases since May 2022.

Camera IconHigh demand for rentals in attractive suburbs is a continuing problem for would-be renters. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

Finder economists believe the cash rate may have peaked and relief could be on the way for renters who often bare the brunt of those increases.

“Renters tend to feel it worse after a cash rate increase than people who own their own home and that’s the biggest driver behind all of this,” Mr Cooke said.

“Possibly somewhere between August and the end of the year, and then things might start to improve. We may be at the worst of it … (but) it will be a while before it gets better.”

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