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Rental vacancy rates less than one per cent

A rarity: Affordable residential rentals are scarce across north-east Victoria and experts say the crisis hasn't hit its peak. Photo by Rodney Braithwaite

North-east Victoria has the lowest vacancy rate and more than double the amount of people asking for rental properties than are available in the market.

Everybody’s Home — the national campaign for real housing solutions — has analysed and ranked rental data, showing the five regions impacted most by the state’s rental crisis.

That data shows rental vacancy rates are well below one per cent, while — at the same time — rents have increased between six to 14 per cent.

In north-east Victoria there are 40,514 rental properties and a vacancy rate of 0.47 per cent. The annual increase in rental costs is at 12 per cent and there are 396 people looking to squeeze into a rental market which has just 189 offerings.

In south-west Victoria the rental costs have increased by 16 per cent and 490 people are looking for homes in a market which has just 140 offered.

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Kate Colvin said as mortgage interest rates doubled many landlords would seek to pass the cost on to tenants.

“Renters are in for a seriously difficult time as landlords capitalise on historically low vacancy rates to shift the rising cost of interest rates on to their tenants,” Ms Colvin said.

“While the Victorian Government has invested in social housing, we will only start to see significant change once we see a significant promise from the Federal Government as well.”

“After a decade of inaction on social and affordable housing from the previous Commonwealth Government, we really are in a perfect storm. There are limited options for people who can’t afford to buy but want to stay in their local community.

“Just because you rent, doesn’t mean you haven’t established deep roots in a community,” she said.

“Renters on low and modest incomes work in the local shops and aged care services.

“They have kids in local schools, are members of sports clubs, and attend local churches. They deserve the same stability as everyone else.

“We need to start planning for more social and affordable houses now. A dip in construction starts is forecast for next year, and that’s a great opportunity for government to swing in and take up the slack in the industry.

“The bitter fruit of a decade of housing neglect is with us now and is being unfairly forced on low income renters. This problem will only get worse if we fail to act,” Ms Colvin said.