Just how tough is the rental market in Australia?

Rental market news (Toll Transitions)

GUEST POST by Julie Yuen, Senior Manager – Global Mobility, Managed Services, TOLL

The challenges associated with securing a rental property in Australia have been very well documented, making headlines both domestically and abroad. Australia is well known for many things including our sandy white beaches, unique flora and fauna, vegemite and our majestic natural wonders. But what has been increasingly a hot topic to newcomers, is the process to secure a rental property. We all know how anxiety ridden relocations can be, regardless of whether we’re moving down the street or halfway across the world. Our homes are our sanctuary – our safe space – and when there is uncertainty in this anchoring factor, it has the potential to cause escalated stress and restlessness.

As of the end of March 2024, SQM research reported the below levels of rental vacancies and the average annual rental increases for houses and units, over the past 12 months.

  Sydney Melbourne Canberra Perth Brisbane Adelaide Darwin

Current Vacancy Rate


1.1% 1% 1.5% 0.4% 0.9% 0.5% 1.5%

Average Annual Rental Increase 
Houses: 10.8%
Houses: 12.8%
Houses: -0.2%

It is of no surprise with these vacancy rates, why the task of securing a rental property is so daunting. These are some of the lowest vacancies rates we’ve seen and with the dual challenge of high interest rates pushing traditional home owners to the rental market as well, it has become the perfect storm for renters. For a balanced and healthy rental market, tenants want to see vacancy rates of around 3%. Anything less means it’s a landlord’s paradise and the balance of power will be skewed unfairly in favour of the landlords.

This is why the early engagement of a Relocation Management Company (RMC) in the relocation lifecycle is critical, in helping customers navigate the process and strategise how to achieve success. Given the global coverage of Australia’s challenging rental market, it is likely that relocating families are already aware of the difficulties and experiencing sleepless nights. To ensure a home is secured promptly, appropriate consultation time with the RMC is paramount, before the customer sets their first step into a rental property. Spending sufficient time with the family to ensure that they have realistic expectations, is equally as important as any other aspect of the home finding service.

In our experience at Toll, given the extreme rental challenges in some markets, setting realistic expectations is not an overnight exercise. More commonly it takes multiple detailed conversations, long email exchanges, and sadly, sometimes failed attempts in securing a rental property, to get the right alignment in expectations. If this process is left too late and the RMC is not engaged early enough in the relocation lifecycle, this can lead to heightened stress levels for the family, longer stays in temporary accommodation, increased unproductive time and higher costs overall for companies.

We’ve seen examples of real estate agents showing 50+ prospective tenants through some properties, and then receiving upwards of 20 quality rental applications per property. The challenge is real and it’s understandable why securing a home is one of the most emotional parts of the relocation journey.

But it’s not all doom and gloom and Toll has always successfully found a home for our customers. Below are some strategies that Toll recommends to maximise the success rate for customers;

  • Preparation of all supporting documentation, before the home-finding process commences: It is imperative that all rental applications are completed comprehensively and accurately the first time around, so all documents have to be ready. We want to avoid creating more work for real estate agents by having to chase for supporting evidence.
  • Be memorable: Prospective tenants should be well-presented during the inspections and try to make an impression. Often customers are competing against multiple prospective tenants, so we always encourage our customers to make an effort to make the encounter memorable. Ask lots of questions of the real estate agent to demonstrate an eagerness to learn more about the property and what it has to offer. Anything that will make the customer standout in a positive way from all the other prospective tenants is a positive.
  • Be open to starting the rental property as soon as possible: Almost all properties viewed will be available for rental immediately, so landlords are likely to favour applications with the earliest lease start date to minimise any period the property is not generating income. Rental properties in Australian can be inspected and secured within 12-24 hours, so customers should keep this short turnaround in mind when nominating a lease start date.
  • Minimise requests and changes to the rental property: Most rental properties are to be rented as is, so the more requests made to alter the property, the less attractive the rental application will be. Of course if anything in unsafe or not in working condition it requires attention, but if the requests relate to cosmetic changes, landlords will be comparing this to other offers.
  • Pet resumes: Pets are part of the family and we know how important it is to find a home to house all family members. Some states such as Victoria have more pro-tenant legislations around pet ownership, where landlords have to justify why a pet cannot be permitted in a rental property. In any case, if customers have a pet, we always recommend that they put together a pet resume including details of the pet, some cute photos, its character traits and any references from prior rental history to showcase what a great tenant the pet will be as well!

In the current tight rental market, we are seeing landlords being very selective. They are spoilt for choice and often their decision-making process is not disclosed. In addition to the above best practices, immediately after a rental application has been lodged, Toll’s Real Estate Specialists follow up all rental applications with a Letter of Offer and warm introduction to demonstrate our strong intent to rent the property. This has been very effective in making our customers memorable and stand out from the crowd.

The rental housing crisis in Australian is no longer a newcomer problem only, but a national issue that many Australians are also grappling with. The experience can be unsettling and confronting, especially if not managed with the sensitivity and empathy it deserves. The golden rules to ensure success is to approach the experience with an open mindset and realistic expectation of the properties’ ‘must-haves’. There is no such thing as the perfect property, but with the support of RMCs, we will not stop until a home is found.


Julie Yuen is Senior Manager of Global Mobility for Toll, and an Expert Mentor for TEMi. Julie has 19 years of experience in global mobility and her interest in expatriate management started very early on when she completed her thesis on ‘The Definition of Expatriation Failure’, as part of her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of NSW. Since then, Julie has devoted her career to helping her clients navigate the ever changing mobility landscape and generating synergies that aligns with their strategic business objectives. Julie is passionate about living out the Toll value of “We put our customers at the centre of everything”, and sees this as one of the reasons why she has been able to successfully foster strong and lasting partnerships with her clients.

Julie now leads Tolls’ Corporate portfolio overseeing the delivery of a wide suite of relocation services, expertly delivered by a team of dedicated and knowledgeable staff. Julie holds a Global Mobility Specialist (GMS) and a Global Mobility Specialist – Talent (GMS -T) accreditations from Worldwide ERC. She is currently based in Melbourne.

Connect with Julie


Toll Transitions is Australia’s leading relocation management specialist, managing more than 25,000 relocations and 21,000 removals a year on behalf of a broad range of corporate and government clients. Toll focuses on all aspects of relocation management, so you can focus on managing your business.



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