Rents in the west head north

By Star Weekly

Rents in some western suburbs have increased at the same rate as some of the city’s most prestigious suburbs over the past year, sparking alarm from advocates who are warning of increased rental stress among families.

Median weekly rents increased by 15 per cent over the past year in Keilor and 5 per cent in Broadmeadows and Roxburgh Park.

Rents over the same period in Malvern have increased by 7.6 per cent and by 7.5 per cent in Albert Park and Middle Park.

Inner-city rents, on the other hand, have declined the most amid Melbourne’s cooling house prices, new Department of Health and Human Services figures show.

Over the past five years, traditional affordability bastions of Werribee and Hoppers Crossing have experienced rent increases of more than 20 per cent.

That growth in prices is behind only Thornbury and Armadale, the department’s December 2018 Rental Report shows.

Keilor’s 15 per cent growth over the past year was particularly stark given its five-year growth from 2013 to 2018 of 21.7 per cent was the sixth highest across the city.

Tenants Victoria policy officer Natalie Rutherford said the sharp rise in rents in fringe areas increased the levels of housing stress experienced by vulnerable families.

“A family with two children receiving Newstart, an income of $793, and renting a three-bedroom house in Keilor pays more than 44 per cent of their income just to put a roof over their heads,” she said. “Affordable private housing is hard to find, badly maintained, and expensive to heat.”

A generational change was occurring in Keilor, leading to bigger properties being rented out for higher prices, Brad Teal director Brad Teal said.

“It’s the end of the generational cycles where people are moving out of homes and putting them on the rental market for the first time,” he said.

“There are rental opportunities on big blocks that have a potential future of being knocked down and rebuilt.”