These are just some of the key findings the January 2024 InfoChoice Rent Crisis Survey revealed. 

The survey, which asked more than 1,000 Australian renters across all age demographics, found that 70% are in rental stress due to the ongoing rental crisis plaguing the country. 

The impact of high interest rates and property supply shortage has been felt throughout the rental market – with latest data revealing vacancy rates at critical levels and huge demand continuing to outstrip supply, which in turn pushes rental prices up to record highs. 

Renters have been bearing the brunt of Australia’s tough rental market over the past 12 months, pushing them to compete for limited stock and resort to a few lifestyle changes just to afford their rent. 

InfoChoice’s survey found 41.2% of renters have seen their rents rise by 10% over the last year, with more than half admitting that these uncontrollable price hikes “might” drive them to move out. 

This comes as Proptrack data for December shows the number of rental listings is 30.2% below the 10 year average for the month.

Homelessness is a cause for worry

The probability of becoming homeless due to the rental crisis has been a cause of worry for more than half of Aussie renters, most evidently among tenants in Queensland where Domain recorded the longest stretch of rising rents. 

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) were the most worried out of any generation about becoming homeless.  

In reality, only 6.6% had experienced eviction in the last 12 months. South Australia had the highest rate of eviction at 7.7%, followed by Victoria and Tasmania. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures

Among all age groups, millennial (1981-1996) and Gen Z (1997-2012) renters said moving out from their current residence is on the cards given soaring rent prices. 

But to prevent eviction, more than two-thirds of Aussies had made lifestyle changes.

Reducing other expenses was the most common (53.7%) fix Aussies renters did to keep up with the rising cost of rent. 

One of the survey respondents shared, “I go without food a lot. My clothes are worn out and I can’t buy more. I don’t go out anymore.”

The InfoChoice Rent Crisis survey found that 12.1% had moved to a smaller place, 6% got a housemate with whom to share the costs, and a marginal, but still worth noting, 1.2% had resorted to moving back in with their parents. 

More than seven in 10 are stressed due to rent

Aside from the ‘rent stress technicality’ that applies to tenants paying more than 30% of their income to cover their lease, over three-quarters of respondents said they were feeling stressed due to rent. 

Stress plagues most of those renting in Victoria, Tasmania, and Western Australia. But in terms of stress intensity, Queensland takes the cake for the state with the most stressed renters.

When it comes to age, however, it appears the younger person, the more stressed they are. 

Renting is the most viable option to have a home

Renting is stressful, but for many Australians, it is the only option to have a roof under their heads. 

The survey found 43% of respondents were renting because they were “not ready for homeownership”, a reason common among all age groups especially Gen X (1965-1980).

Meanwhile, others rent not because they have to – some prefer the flexibility, others are trying out different suburbs before settling down, and others consider it a temporary stop-gap solution. 

Boomers and Gen Z, the survey found, see eye-to-eye when it comes to deeming renting as a means to achieve financial flexibility – no 30-year mortgage and not having the responsibility of owning and maintaining a home. 

Renters call for government action

The InfoChoice Rent Crisis survey found that an overwhelming majority (96.2%) of renters believe that the government should do more to help renters recover from this crisis. 

More than a quarter of renters believe more public housing will help improve rental affordability. However, the slow start to the government’s target to build 1.2 million homes may make it more difficult to feel its impact in the near term. 

Other policies respondents believed would help alleviate the rental crisis were “more financial incentives to build new homes”, “reducing immigration”, and “limiting short-stay rentals” such as Airbnb. 

A few also cited encouraging empty-nesters to downsize and cutting density restrictions in the suburbs as possible solutions. 

In addition to policy solutions, a clear majority (88.1%) of renters believe the government should have stronger control over rent rises, especially considering that the government was cited as the most responsible for and therefore should directly address this problem. 

Others also blame property owners and the Reserve Bank for exacerbating the crisis.

“The bank putting rates up causes landlords to up rent but some landlords are just being greedy. The government could help in some way but because they’re all making hundreds of thousands a year it’s not an issue to them so they just let it be,” a millennial renter from NSW said. 

Read the InfoChoice Rent Crisis Survey Report to gain more insights into the current rental market

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash