Angus Raine, executive chairman of Raine & Horne, said disasters including bushfires and floods have decimated housing supply in many areas.
And while the country is no stranger to bushfires, the most recent event, which occurred between September 2019 and March 2020, caused damage unprecedented in recent history.
Data showed the bushfire incident destroyed 2,448 homes and damaged 1,013 homes, with the majority of property losses occurring in southern New South Wales.
Meanwhile, the flooding incident which has devastated the east coast, particularly NSW and queensland, in March 2022 submerged tens of thousands of properties in affected areas and left a significant portion uninhabitable or in need of repair.
Mr Raine said currently some areas were seeing dangerously low vacancy rates and forcing people to go to extreme lengths to have a roof over their heads.
“Lack of housing forces people to live without cars while local charities scramble to provide emergency accommodation,” Mr Raine said.
To underscore how severe the current shortage is, he pointed out that even areas away from central business districts have few rental listings.
For example, he noted that the town of Mossman, which is located far north of Queensland, currently has a rental vacancy rate below 0.6%.
Mr Raine pointed out that the scenario is not improving in central Queensland. “Families in Rockhampton are forced to live in tents while waiting for accommodation,” he said.
In July, data from Domain showed the national vacancy rate fell to an all-time low of 0.9%, after four straight months of stability at 1%.
The report also noted that the shortage of supply and the availability of vacant rentals have increased asking rents and further intensified competition among tenants.
Mr Raine warned that the housing shortage is a crisis which “does not have a huge window to solve”.
He urged the government to tackle the problem. “These people need help now and councils need to consider more immediate short-term solutions, such as allowing landlords to add granny flats to their properties,” he said.
To support the move, Mr Raine is calling on governments to consider offering grants to encourage landlords to add granny flats.
“More subsidized apartments will help solve some of the housing crisis, while landlords who add a granny flat won’t hurt their property values either,” he explained.
Mr Raine also suggested that dongas or transportable buildings – which are often used on remote work sites or as tourist accommodation – could be used to provide safer and more secure emergency accommodation.