Affordable rentals in Australia hit record lows

Economist highlights the impact of decreasing supply of affordable rentals

Affordable rentals in Australia hit record lows


By Jonalyn Cueto

Affordable rental properties are becoming increasingly scarce across Australia, with the share of rentals available for under $400 a week dropping significantly over the past year. New data from PropTrack shows that in April, only 10.4% of rental properties nationwide were listed for less than $400 a week, compared to 15.5% in April 2023 and 43.2% at the start of the pandemic.

In capital cities, the situation is more dire. Just 5.9% of rentals in these areas are below the $400-a-week mark, down from 10.6% a year ago. Sydney has now seen only 3.8% of its rental properties now costing less than $400 a week, declining from 22.7% in March 2020.

Melbourne’s rental market has also tightened, with just 7% of rentals under $400, compared to 38.7% at the beginning of the pandemic. Brisbane follows a similar trend, with the share of affordable rentals dropping from 49.2% in March 2020 to just 7.8% in April 2024.

Adelaide and Perth have experienced substantial decreases as well. In Adelaide, 9.5% of rentals are under $400 a week, down from 59.0% in March 2020. Perth has 5.6% of its rentals under this price, compared to 61.5% at the start of the pandemic.

Hobart and Darwin have slightly higher shares of affordable rentals at 10.9% and 10.7%, respectively. However, both cities have also seen significant decreases over the past few years.

The Australian Capital Territory has the smallest share of affordable rentals among the capitals, with just 2.1% of properties listed under $400 a week.

The situation is not much better in regional areas. The share of rentals under $400 a week in regional New South Wales has dropped to 21.5% from 55.6% in March 2020. In regional Victoria, 28.8% of rentals are now under $400, down from 73.4%. Regional Western Australia and Queensland also report significant drops, with only 14.8% and 15.8% of rentals under $400, respectively.

“Near record-low vacancy rates, reflecting strong demand and limited new supply, has created exceptionally challenging conditions for renters. This is particularly problematic for lower income households for whom almost no rental properties are affordable, highlighting the critical need for an increase in the supply of housing,” said Paul Ryan (pictured), senior economist at PropTrack.

Ryan also emphasised that without meaningful action to increase the supply of rental housing, the trend of decreasing affordable rentals is expected to continue, exacerbating the financial strain on many Australian renters.

Any thoughts about this story? Leave a comment below.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!