A couple of decades ago, putting down a deposit to buy a home wasn’t an unreasonable goal for many Australians in their 20s or 30s.

Now, earning enough to pay the rent, let alone being able to find a suitable vacant property, is putting individuals and families under huge stress.

Australia’s rental vacancy rate has hit an historic low, ranging from 0.7% to 1.1%, depending on which survey you look at. This unprecedented demand has caused rents to soar.

As Ameeta Jain writes, average capital city rents climbed 7.3% in 2023, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

The dire rental situation is the latest topic in The Conversation’s series examining Australia’s housing crisis.

Demand for rentals surged after the pandemic, with people wanting more space so they could work or study from home. This demand was exacerbated by the reopening of the borders.

Added to this has been a labour and material shortage which means fewer new homes are being built.

Jain recommends the best way to provide more rentals and ease the housing crisis is to offer more apprenticeships to increase the skills pool, adopt a US-style build-to-rent program funded by corporations, and use more prefabricated housing.

It won’t solve the housing crisis but it could help bring rents down.

Margaret Easterbrook

Business Editor

Prefabricated and build-to-rent houses could help bring rents down

Ameeta Jain, Deakin University

Australia builds only 45,000 new homes per quarter. If we really want to fix the rent crisis we’ll have to build more.

Oppenheimer’s triumph, a stunning First Nations performance, and lots of sparkles: 5 experts on the 2024 Oscars

Ari Mattes, University of Notre Dame Australia; Alison Cole, University of Sydney; Bronwyn Carlson, Macquarie University; Harriette Richards, RMIT University; Tom Clark, Victoria University

From the red carpet to the winners and the speeches, our experts dissect the 2024 Oscars.

Government’s aged care report proposes older Australians pay more but eschews a levy

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

A government-instituted Aged Care Taskforce has recommended older Australians should pay more of the cost of their aged care, while steering clear of politically fraught options.

We looked at all the recent evidence on mobile phone bans in schools – this is what we found

Marilyn Campbell, Queensland University of Technology; Elizabeth J Edwards, The University of Queensland

Our study suggests the evidence for banning mobile phones in schools is weak when you look at the impact on academic results, student wellbeing and cyberbullying.

Albanese and NT governments to spend $4 billion over a decade to tackle Indigenous housing

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The federal government is contributing $2.1 billion to a ten-year agreement between the federal government and the Northern Territory that aims to see up to 270 houses built annually in remote Indigenous communities

As the air-raid sirens sound, I am studying Ukrainian culture with new fervour. I’m far from alone

Anastasiya Byesyedina, University of Sydney

Ukrainians are safeguarding their language and cultural identity in the face of Russian attempts to erase it.

Mother’s little helper: interviews with Australian women show a complex relationship with alcohol

Maree Patsouras, La Trobe University; Cassandra Wright, Menzies School of Health Research; Emmanuel Kuntsche, La Trobe University; Gabriel Caluzzi, La Trobe University; Sandra Kuntsche, La Trobe University

Men and women often drink alcohol differently. This is especially the case for women who juggle both paid work and motherhood.

Who is Jürgen Habermas? And why is he such a major public intellectual?

Duncan Ivison, University of Sydney

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, now 94, is a thinker of global significance. What are his key ideas?

Can earth-covered houses protect us from bushfires? Even if they’re a solution, it’s not risk-free

Alan March, The University of Melbourne

Buildings can be engineered to resist bushfires, but we can’t engineer the many aspects of human behaviour and decision-making that will still put lives at risk.

Indigenous fire management began more than 11,000 years ago: new research

Cassandra Rowe, James Cook University; Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Flinders University; Michael Bird, James Cook University

Indigenous fire management shaped Australian tropical savannas over millennia, until the arrival of Europeans pushed the landscape back into a dangerous, unmanaged state.

Strange rock formations beneath the Pacific Ocean could change our understanding of the early Earth

Simon Lamb, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Cornel de Ronde, GNS Science

New research comparing the geology of southern Africa with the deep seafloor near New Zealand challenges conventional views of how the planet behaved when it was very young.

A trip to the coast, a dip in the pool, and a snow-chilled drink: how ancient Romans kept cool in summer

Lily Moore, The University of Melbourne

Our summer rituals and attempts to stay cool are not unique. Such traditions can be traced back thousands of years to the ancient Romans.

Imaginary: I research imaginary friends – here’s what the horror film gets right

Paige Davis, University of Leeds

Some children have companions that are disobedient or even mean.

‘I couldn’t stand the pain’: the Turkish holiday resort that’s become an emergency dental centre for Britons who can’t get treated at home

Diana Ibanez-Tirado, University of Sussex

The crisis in NHS dentistry is driving increasing numbers abroad for treatment. Here are some of their stories.

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