Landlords market': Rental vacancy rates plunge to decade low

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on March 18, 2021
Landlords market': Rental vacancy rates plunge to decade low

Tenants in most capital cities will be hard pressed to find a new home with the number of empty properties plummeting and rents rising.

For those trying to find a rental at the moment, may the odds be ever in your favour. 

Vacancy rates data from PRD Research shows rental vacancy rates in many capital cities have broken their five and ten-year records. 

Brisbane has broken its own vacancy rate record, with the current vacancy rate of 1.5% being lower than it was 10 years ago (1.7% in February 2011).


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"This is quite an achievement, especially compared to Sydney and Melbourne," said PRD Chief Economist Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo. 

"The rental market has seen some difficulties of late due to the increase in weekly rental prices and absence of supply," Dr Mardiasmo said.

"Current vacancy rates data further illustrates how tight and competitive our rental market is at present, with many rental properties receiving higher numbers of applications than anticipated."

With the exception of Melbourne and Sydney where the vacancy rate stands at 4.5% and 3.3% respectively, the rental market has become extremely tough across the rest of the country.

Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Darwin all recorded extremely low vacancy rates under 1.0% in February 2021, and have all broken their five and ten-year records.

Screen Shot 2021-03-18 at 10.24.17 am

Source: PRD

One real estate agent told Savings.com.au they received nearly 1,000 applications for 12 properties they recently advertised.

On the tenants' side, Brisbane resident Sam Gaffer has been trying to find a new rental property since February, but says he hasn't had any luck.

“We apply for five places a day, upload everything they need in 1Form, offer above market value for rent and all we get back is a text declining our application," he told Savings.com.au.

“Last week, after visiting one (a property manager), I pulled over and cried. I can’t believe how hard it is to get a house.”

While it's a bleak time for those trying to find a new home, the tight rental market is a prime opportunity for investors.

"A low, and/or declining vacancy rate benefits investors, as it indicates higher occupancy rates and quicker cash flow," Dr Mardiasmo said.

"Current rental market conditions have benefitted investors, signalling the need for other investors to enter the market immediately.

"More than ever, now is the time for investors to enter the market."

Tenants in some cities are paying up to 25% more in rent

In more bad news for renters, rent prices in many parts of the country are on the rise.

Houses in Darwin are costing tenants 25% or $146 more than compared to a year ago. Unit rents jumped by 7.1% or $31.

In Perth, house rents have soared by 12.8% ($65) more than this time last year, while unit rents increased by 10.2%

When including regional Australia, national rents rose 11.1% for houses and 7.4% for units over the same period.

But in Melbourne and Sydney, it's a completely different story.

Asking rents for apartments in Melbourne plummeted by 12.2% over the year to 12 March 2021, reflecting the oversupply of properties particularly in the CBD where the vacancy rate is 7.5%.

Meanwhile, house asking rents fell by 6.7%.

Sydney's asking rents also fell year-on-year, by 9.0% for units and 6.7% for houses. 

"The figures for Melbourne and Sydney would be disappointing for existing property investors," said SQM Managing Director Louis Christopher.

"Normally, vacancy rates in these two cities fall over February, in part due to international students starting their semesters. But given the ongoing closure of the international border, the seasonal increase in rental demand has not occurred this year.

"This year will favour tenants in the inner cities but will also very much remain a landlord’s market in regional Australia."


Stewart Munro on Unsplash

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author-avatar
Emma Duffy is Assistant Editor at Your Mortgage and  Your Investment Property Mag, which are part of the Savings Media Group. In this role, she manages a team of journalists and expert contributors committed to keeping readers informed about the latest home loan and finance news and trends, as well as providing in-depth property guides. She is also a finance journalist at Savings.com.au which she joined shortly after its launch in early 2019. Emma has a Bachelor in Journalism and has been published in several other publications and been featured on radio.

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