There have been a number of claims that there are many unoccupied properties in Melbourne, Australia, and that this causes a meaningful difference in the price of rentals and purchase.

For example, the Herald Sun reports:

A MASSIVE number of Melbourne residential properties are lying vacant, research from a tax reform organisation shows.

More than 82,700 residential properties — or 4.8 per cent of Melbourne’s housing stock — sit empty, while many people struggle to afford to buy or even rent accommodation.

Are there over 80,000 unoccupied homes in Melbourne?

  • 1
    The link seems to have a Heisenberg paywall. Sometimes it is there, sometimes it isn't, depending how you get there.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 29, 2016 at 12:51
  • @Oddthinking - this is typical. WSJ has something similar.
    – user5341
    Jun 29, 2016 at 13:25
  • An important point not mentioned: how does "4.8% vacant" compare to the vacancy rate caused by normal turnover in housing occupancy?
    – Mark
    Jun 30, 2016 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


According to the think tank, Prosper Australia, yes.

Some 82,724 properties, or 4.8 per cent of the city's total housing stock, appear to be unused, said the report, which estimated occupancy rates by gauging water usage. In the worst-hit areas, a quarter of all homes are empty, said Prosper. The Melbourne-based research group is lobbying for more affordable housing through tax reform.

The water usage they were gauging is whether the property used less than 50 liters of water in a day, less than a single shower and a toilet flush.

Link to the 2015 report

  • Given the similar phrasing, I suspect this is the same source that the querent is stating, but I feel that providing the criteria by which they gauged whether the homes were unoccupied was useful. Jun 29, 2016 at 13:32
  • I looked at the report earlier, and there was one concern I had that I couldn't resolve: do vacant lots (i.e. unimproved land) get included in this statistic? I don't know how the water companies report it.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 29, 2016 at 15:00
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    @Oddthinking: If I'm reading the report right, they based it off of water meters. So if a property has nothing built on it, the odds are that they have no water service and no water meter. Jun 29, 2016 at 15:33
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    At that, they have a list of factors they considered for the sake of accuracy, such as slow leaks on unused properties and complexes with a single water meter, and they're fairly certain that they underestimated the number of vacant properties as a result. Jun 29, 2016 at 18:31

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