Mr Docking said rental supply was heading toward crisis point and rents would soon start to blow out.
“We’re going to be moving into crisis. It’s sooner rather than later,” he said.
“We’ll get into a situation where we will see tenants prepared to pay more to get into rental property because obviously the alternative is to be homeless. So rents will increase. It’s…just supply and demand.”
Mr Docking said all types of property were in high demand from renters, but three-bedroom houses were being hotly contested and demand for smaller apartments from young people returning to the market after the pandemic was driving the pick-up in the CBD.
Research by the News Corp-backed realestate.com supports Domain’s view that the shortage of rentals is driven by surging demand rather than dwindling supply.
Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge said the harm from the tough market was being felt most acutely by families in the outer suburbs.
Ms Beveridge said families were being forced further from their jobs, their children’s schools, extended families and employment while they searched for a rental, with ramifications beyond housing policy.
“There’s going to be significant disruption to families with kids in school and to their employment opportunities,” she said.
“This is going to have an impact on kids or … their mental health [and] the traffic on our roads as people need to travel further to reconnect with their communities.
“The ramifications are going to be significant on this. It’s not just about the individual family or the individual person having to uproot their life. That’s bad enough, but … we’re going to start to see signs of other disruption more broadly.”
Anglicare Victoria chief executive Paul McDonald said his agency supported families moving out of emergency accommodation and into affordable rental properties.
“Most are single mums fleeing domestic violence,” Mr McDonald said.
“For some, it’s the first time they’ve had to find a place to live by themselves, and some of them have needed to make more than 80 rental applications.
“When these families are finding accommodation, often it isn’t in the same place as their communities and support networks. One family found a home in Werribee, but the children’s school was over an hour and a half away, which obviously causes a host of other problems.”
Prahran-based bartender and wedding singer Alexander Rohan said that in his 12 years of renting, it had never been more difficult to find a new place.
“This has definitely been the hardest time I’ve ever had to look for a house, hands down,” he said.
Mr Rohan, 30, currently lives in a share house but is now looking for an apartment of his own.
He said he would like to stay near Prahran, but demand was high for apartments.
“I went to an open house the other day. It was a tiny, tiny little studio apartment and there was about 13, 14 other people there,” he said.
“In the 12 years that I’ve been living out of home I’ve not seen more than maybe six people at an open house.”