The bushfire crisis might intensify the housing shortage in regional Victoria as affected families turn to the rental market, according to a market watcher.
Regional Victoria is already grappling with a tight supply of rental homes, said Leah Calnan, president of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.
"Fierce fires continue to ravage Eastern Victoria, with over 75,000 private dwellings under threat. Locals will soon return to their homes and try and rebuild their lives," she said.
Some of the areas in the region already have a low supply of rental homes, with East Gippsland and Wellington Shire having a rental vacancy rate of just 0.9%, Latrobe Valley with 1.3%, the Wodonga region with 1.7% and the Goulbourn Valley with 2.5%.
"Bushfire-affected families will be turning to the rental market while they rebuild. They face a tough search given the lack of rental properties across the region," Calnan said.
Calnan urged investors and property owners to consider putting their holiday homes in the rental market to help with the shortfall of housing and assist affected families find a new home.
"Investors and holiday homeowners are not necessarily from this area; they could be from Melbourne or across Victoria. We are calling on them to put their properties on the market and help a (bushfire) affected family put a roof over their heads," she said.
Boosting the supply of rental homes, Calnan said, will help affected families stay in their communities.
"After surviving a bushfire, the last thing you want to be doing is taking on a long, drawn-out search for a rental home," she said.
The state government of New South Wales also urged property owners to list their holiday homes to help give shelter to those affected by the bushfires.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the NSW government's Bushfire Housing Assistance Service will be able to help people who have lost their homes find suitable short-term to long-term accommodation.
Financial assistance through rental bond loans and advance rent payments will also available to those in need.