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Aus housing crisis worsens as students return

Cities across Australia are seeing staggering drops in vacancy rate, with one city going as low as 0.2% – just as borders are opening to the world, experts are saying.

Melbourne had one of the largest year-on-year falls in vacancy rates from 2021-22. Photo: Pexels

Vacancy rates across the board are at their lowest since its records began

A new report by Australian real estate company Domain shows that vacancy rates across the board are at their lowest since its records began in 2017, with Melbourne showing one of the biggest year-on-year drops from 4.3% in March 2021 to 1.8% this March.

“Experts say it is to get worse as international students and working visa holders flood back into our cities,” said reporter for News First Sydney, Samara Gardner.

Sydney’s own vacancy rates have plummeted to 1.4%, meaning it is at the lowest since November 2017, down from 2.9% in March 2021.

“Experts say it is to get worse as international students and working visa holders flood back”

“The demand for property in the CBD [Sydney’s central business district] is only tipped to grow, meaning rents will likely continue to increase and the competition become even more fierce – we’re likely to see bidding wars occur between those tenants in order to secure a lease,” Gardner continued.

The news comes as Australia continues to push for more collaboration between itself and India, especially targeting top STEM talent– but the question remains as to whether they will have anywhere to live once they arrive.

International students have always unfortunately been more vulnerable to issues with finding accommodation, especially when prices rise and competition becomes fierce – and their desperation to find somewhere to live leaves them prone to being taken advantage of.

Alan Morris of the University of Technology Sydney conducted research during the pandemic of the risks faced by international students trying to rent in Australia.

“Many [international students] come from low-income homes and, once they land in Australia, the education providers don’t have to provide housing,” Morris explained in a talk with Tenants’ Union of New South Wales.

Speaking to a father and daughter on the report, they said they had been trying to “find a place for about a month”, and there had still been no luck.

“Many come from low-income homes… the education providers don’t have to provide housing”

“Hopefully we’ll find something,” the daughter said. It is unconfirmed whether she was an international student.

“Our study found that 25% of students end up sharing a bedroom with people they don’t know, and a lot of them are in insecure situations – there’s no indication that the problem will be resolved any time soon,” Morris continued.

“I remember one student living opposite a university – she was renting a two-bedroom apartment where the lounge had been converted into another bedroom… she wasn’t even sure how many people were in the apartment, ‘It’s either 13 or 14,’ she said.”

This concurs with the PIE’s report in October that international students in Victoria were living in “insecure housing” that is often “unsafe” and in “poor condition”.

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