By Elise West and Alex Jarvis

    The census data is in. In Maribyrnong, more people are renting, but affordable rental properties are hard to find, and single-parent families and people on low incomes are being squeezed. It’s bad news for renters, but landlords are doing better than ever: Maribyrnong property owners collected around $235 million in rent – over $19 million a month – in 2016.

    Fewer houses, and more expensive

    Since 2006, three thousand properties have come onto the Maribyrnong rental market. Most of these appear to be flats, units, and townhouses: the number of freestanding houses available to rent has declined.

    In 2006, most rentals in Maribyrnong were priced between $100 and $275 a week and were affordable on low incomes. By 2011, the majority of rentals were around $349 a week. Last year, only those who could afford $449 a week could access most rentals.

    Squeeze and stress

    The number of couples and families with young children renting in Maribyrnong has doubled since 2006, but single-parent families getting by on low incomes have been squeezed right out. The closest affordable areas to Maribyrnong, according to a recent Anglicare Victoria report, are Melton and Wyndham.

    Around 5,300 households (39 per cent of renting households) in Maribyrnong are in rental stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their weekly income in rent. Rental stress has increased significantly for people paying lower rents: now 70 per cent of people paying $149 a week struggle to make ends meet.

    Census data shows that, between 2006 and 2011, the number of Maribyrnong households in social housing increased by just two.

    Boom for some

    The benefits of higher rents and greater competition flow to landlords and the property industry.

    In Maribyrnong, the real estate and property management industry generated $1.15 billion in 2015-16 from local business.

    Based on median weekly rents, Maribyrnong landlords collected $81 million a year in 2006. That number has now nearly tripled to $235 million dollars in rent a year.

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