Rise and shine: Australia’s rental vacancy rates buckle up

By Our Reporter
Representational Photo by Brian Babb on Unsplash

Australian renters might find themselves playing a slightly longer game of house-hunting, with rental vacancy rates climbing to a higher notch of 1.3% as of June 2023, reveals the latest data from SQM Research.

The national increase, represented by an additional 2,809 vacant rental dwellings, brings the total number of unoccupied properties to 39,716. A key contributor to this uptick is Sydney, which saw its rental vacancy rates climb from 1.5% in May to 1.7% in June. Not to be outdone, Melbourne, Canberra, and Hobart also reported hikes in their rental vacancy rates, standing at 1.3%, 2.1%, and 1.9% respectively.

It appears the CBD areas are feeling the pinch the hardest. In Sydney and Melbourne, vacancy rates have ballooned significantly to 5.7% and 4.3%. However, not all cities are echoing this trend. In Brisbane, Perth, and Darwin, vacancy rates have held firm at 1.0%, 0.6%, and 0.9%, displaying a sense of stability amidst the nationwide surge.

The majority of regional areas have managed to maintain their equilibrium, with the North Coast NSW holding steady at 1.8%, despite recent increases. The Blue Mountains remain unscathed, with a steady rate of 1.7%. However, the Gold Coast Main experienced a shakeup, recording a sudden vacancy rate increase to 1.6%, coupled with a significant 5.1% drop in recorded rents over the past month until July 4.

Despite the overall rise in vacancies, renters can take solace in a steady rental market. The national median weekly asking rent currently stands at $571.82, climbing to $667.37 for those seeking dwellings in capital cities. Although rents have experienced a slight increase over the past 30 days – 1.1% for houses and 0.2% for units – it’s a far cry from the rapid rent growth previously experienced.

The divide in rental costs across cities remains evident. Sydney keeps its crown as the most expensive city for renters, with weekly house rents peaking at $972.73. In stark contrast, Adelaide offers the most economical option, with units available for a weekly rent of $416.93.

Hobart seems to buck the trend, recording a 1.3% drop in rents for combined dwellings over the past month. Renters in Hobart are now paying $29 less per week than they were in January 2023.

Reflecting on the recent findings, Louis Christopher, Managing Director of SQM Research, presented a balanced perspective. “Today’s update indicates that we have moved past the worst of our national rental crisis, with easing vacancy rates in major capital cities and a noticeable slowdown in market rent increases,” he said.

Despite the uptick to 1.3%, Christopher was quick to remind that the rental crisis is far from resolved, particularly given Australia’s robust population growth rates. He highlighted, “It’s unlikely we’ll see an oversupply of rental properties soon. However, a slowdown in the crisis can help steady market rents after an extended period of significant growth.”

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