According to Domain, across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, there are properties being rented for 15 to 20% less than they were in 2016. 

The largest falls have come in Melbourne, where the median asking rent price of $430 a week has now been surpassed by every other capital city.

Rents in almost one in five suburbs across the city are lower than in 2016, with much of the fall coming in the past year. 

Inner-city Southbank in Melbourne had the steepest drop over the past five years, with its median weekly asking rent now $400, about 26% below 2016 levels.

Apartment rents in the Melbourne CBD, inner-city Docklands, Caulfield East in the inner south and MacLeod in the north-east were also down more than 20%.

Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell said the closure of international borders has left unit supply outpacing demand with fewer international students to fill inner city apartments. 

Missing international students have had a direct effect on landlords who specialise in leasing residences to these tenants, and fewer students means increased vacancies and lower rents.

This is seen in CBD vacancy rates remaining elevated despite other markets tightening.

A recent report from Juwai IQI estimated Victoria lost $742 million of its foreign student revenue in 2020.

Sydney and Brisbane

In Greater Sydney, unit rents were lower than 2016 levels across two-thirds of suburbs, with the most significant decline recorded in Revesby in the south-west, with rents down 25%. 

Other suburbs that saw 20% falls since 2016 included Millers Point, Mortlake, Harris Park, and North Ryde.

In Brisbane, eight suburbs experienced cheaper house rents, with Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane experiencing falls of more than 16%.

The largest drop in unit rents was in the Brisbane CBD, where the median was down 13% on 2016 levels.

Domain attributed high levels of development having the biggest impact on rental prices.

NSW puts plan in place for return of international students

According to Juwai IQI, New South Wales ranked second behind Victoria in terms of both absolute and the proportion of revenue lost due to the lack of international students.

Overall, NSW saw a drop of $675.5 million from 2019 to 2020 in international student-generated revenue.

This has greatly impacted the rental market, with high vacancies in the CBD putting downward pressure on the market. 

Earlier this month, the NSW and ACT government announced a pilot plan to enable the staggered return of fully vaccinated international students to resume their studies.

The first phase of the plan is to bring back 500 students by the end of the year.

This plan was backed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which allowed the collaboration to proceed.

"The authorisation provides the universities with an exemption from competition law so they can collaborate and follow through with the NSW Government's policy to allow for the return of international students to local universities," ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

"By being able to use the same travel provider, for example, the process is simpler and easier for the universities, students and government agencies to handle international arrivals and quarantine arrangements.

"A travel provider is also more likely to be able to source more economic flights than if students purchased their airfares independently."

The participating universities are:

  • Australian Catholic University
  • Australian National University
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Southern Cross University
  • Macquarie University
  • University of Canberra
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of New England
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Notre Dame
  • The University of Sydney
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • Western Sydney University
  • University of Wollongong

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