Australia’s relentless housing crisis laid bare in 'unbelievable' footage

A seemingly endless queue of people waited to inspect a one-bedroom apartment.

A video showing a winding queue of people waiting to inspect a rental property shows just how quickly symptoms of Australia's housing shortage are reappearing after a brief lull over the festive period.

A video shared online captioned "Rental crisis in Melbourne" shows a seemingly never-ending line of hopeful tenants waiting to view a $370 per week one-bedroom apartment near the city. Many Aussies have since reacted in shock at the "unbelievable" scene.

One expert says a spike is to be expected, with demand "generally moving through a seasonal high" at the beginning of the year, but warned prices will likely continue upwards.

"With rental vacancy rates remaining well below average across most regions of the country, a seasonal lift in rental demand is likely to run headlong into an ongoing undersupply of available rental accommodation," Tim Lawless, Research Director at CoreLogic Australia, told Yahoo News Australia. "With demand likely to outweigh supply, rent [prices] could see some renewed upward pressure through the first part of the year."

Scenes of queues outside rental inspections are back with a bang. Source: TikTok
Scenes of queues outside rental inspections are back with a bang. Source: TikTok

Rental property shortages a strain across the country

A spokesperson from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) told Yahoo a tight Victorian rental market is nothing new, but more must be done to secure supply. "There are regular reports of queues for rental properties. We must do more, and soon, to support new supply into the market," they said.

Across the country, in Perth, the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA)'s CEO Cath Hart shared that a decrease in rentals, combined with ongoing strong demand has seen the vacancy rate fall — with the number of properties advertised for rent "mostly below 2,000" since August 2022.

"Supply and demand are also putting upward pressure on rent prices. Perth’s median dwelling rent was $600 per week in December. This was 15.4 per cent higher than the same time last year," she told Yahoo.

Lawless warns as rental affordability pressures mount, we are likely to see a change in the way people rent, including "a move towards group households" and "more multi-generational households". "Severe negative social outcomes [include] worsening homelessness, rough living and couch surfing," he continued.

Aussies divided over footage of long queue

Demand increases in rental markets are more obvious across the capital cities, "especially inner city precincts and transit-oriented suburbs that are popular with students," Lawless explains.

This is why people looking for well-maintained places that are affordable in inner-city suburbs are being met with long lines and stiff competition — something some furiously pointed out in the comments.

"People need to live in a specific suburb or their life is over.. sheep," one person wrote.

Others argued short-term holiday rentals have taken away affordable housing. "If people would stop buying investment properties they can’t afford and turning them into Air B&Bs or keeping them vacant to up the market (sic)," another said.

Many more agreed that they would leave if they saw a queue so long and the only way forward is to not even "bother with inspections". "The way I’d see that line and say nope, and walk away. That's unbelievable."

Good news may be ahead for renters according to experts

Domain’s Chief of Research and Economics Dr Nicola Powell says that while this imbalance between housing supply and demand means the rental market "continues to be a landlord's market", things are improving. "We are seeing signs of stabilising conditions in some markets - Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane experiencing a slight increase in vacancy rates," she told Yahoo.

Lawless shared this slight optimism adding that "the good news for renters is that rental growth is showing some signs of slowing".

REIV has welcomed "in principle" government efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of Victoria’s housing supply after the Government's Housing Statement was announced. "The REIV applauds the focus on improving the availability and quality of social and affordable housing," a spokesperson shared.

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