INDUSTRY NEWSNationalReal Estate News

Affordable rentals have vanished in the past three years

The percentage of rental properties priced under $400 per week has seen a dramatic decline in the past three years, presenting significant challenges for low-income earners.

According to Suburbtrends, in Sydney, affordable rentals under $400 have fallen from 21 per cent in 2021 to 3 per cent in 2024, 

Melbourne and Perth have similarly seen dramatic decreases, with affordable rentals dropping from 43 per cent to 6 per cent, and 40 per cent to 2 per cent, respectively. 

This pattern is consistent across other major cities and regional areas, indicating a widespread escalation in rental costs. 

Suburbtrends Founder, Kent Lardner, said the situation was at crisis levels.

“What we’re witnessing is not just a tightening of the rental market but a potential economic crisis in the making,” Mr Lardner said.

“In places like Melbourne, affordable rentals have plummeted from 43 per cent to just 6 per cent in three years, making it extraordinarily difficult for those on modest incomes to find suitable housing.”

He said the sharp decline in affordable rental options was especially significant given that a household earning a modest income of $70,000 per year, would find rents above $400 per week increasingly unaffordable. 

Across the rest of the country, Brisbane has fallen from 39 per cent in 2021 to just 5 per cent in 2024, Adelaide has tumbled from 49 per cent to 7 per cent and the ACT has gone from 13 per cent to 8 per cent.

The regions have also been hit hard ,with Regional NSW moving from 42 per cent to 17 per cent, Regional Victoria from 61 per cent to 27 per cent, Regional QLD from 44 per cent to 11 per cent, Regional SA from 88 per cent to 55 per cent, and Regional WA from 45 per cent to 11 per cent.

Mr Lardner said unaffordable rents could start to destroy communities.

“As affordable rentals vanish, low-income renters may have no choice but to move further from city centres, where commuting costs will erase what little savings they achieve from cheaper rents,” he said.

“This disrupts lives and can lead to a decrease in the availability of critical workers in key urban areas.”

Mr Lardner said while the country explored long-term strategies to increase housing stock, we must also implement immediate measures.

“Emergency accommodation and transitional housing are essential to prevent a surge in homelessness and provide relief to those affected by the crisis,” he said.

“The reality is that escalating construction costs, driven by higher standards and rising material and labour expenses, make it increasingly challenging to deliver dwellings at prices translating to $400 per week or less rents.

“We need a multifaceted strategy that includes both emergency measures and sustainable long-term solutions to ensure that housing remains affordable for all Australians.”

Show More

Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.