Australia's rental crisis worsens, with vacancy rate hitting new low in August 2023 1.1 per cent
Rental conditions show no signs of easing, with vacancy rates below one per cent in three major cities. Image: Canva.
  • Rental crisis deepens, vacancy rate hits a new low of 1.1%.
  • Major cities see sharp declines in vacancy rates.
  • Renters face soaring competition and rising rents, with no relief in sight.

The Australian rental market has seen an unending barrage of sky-high rents and low vacancies, which have slipped even further to a new low of 1.1%, according to PropTrack’s latest PropTrack Market Insight Report.

The rental crisis deepens

The national rental vacancy rate witnessed its steepest fall in more than a year in August, dropping by 0.14 percentage points (ppt) to a mere 1.10%.

The rate is well below the 2.5% to 3.5% that the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) considers to be a balanced rental market.

Australia’s vacant rental properties have more than halved since the start of the pandemic.

Percentage points
All dwellings Vacancy rate Monthly change Quarterly change Annual change Change since March 2020
Sydney 1.26% -0.19 -0.23 -0.36 -60%
Melbourne 1.19% -0.10 -0.05 -0.74 -50%
Brisbane 0.84% -0.05 -0.11 -0.33 -59%
Adelaide 0.68% -0.13 -0.08 -0.03 -50%
Perth 0.69% -0.12 -0.16 -0.14 -71%
Hobart 1.51% -0.10 -0.03 0.87 6%
Darwin 1.70% 0.17 0.39 -0.03 -63%
ACT 1.72% -0.26 -0.20 0.14 87%
Capital cities 1.10% -0.12 -0.13 -0.38 -56%
Rest of NSW 1.29% -0.22 -0.25 0.23 -36%
Rest of Vic 1.07% -0.18 -0.18 0.09 -31%
Rest of Qld 0.94% -0.16 -0.20 -0.02 -57%
Rest of SA 0.69% -0.17 -0.12 0.01 -72%
Rest of WA 1.24% 0.00 -0.01 0.20 -62%
Rest of Tas 1.24% -0.31 -0.20 0.37 -18%
Rest of NT 1.96% -0.22 -0.59 0.79 -44%
Regional areas 1.10% -0.19 -0.21 0.11 -47%
National 1.10% -0.14 -0.15 -0.24 -54%

Source: PropTrack.

“It became even harder to rent a property in August, with the national vacancy rate falling to a new low of just 1.1%,” said PropTrack economist and report author, Anne Flaherty.

“Vacancy rates deteriorated in every capital city bar Darwin, with Canberra and Sydney seeing the sharpest drops over the month.”

State-by-state changes

Sydney’s rental situation worsened in August, with its vacancy rate declining by 0.19 ppt to 1.26%. Meanwhile, Melbourne’s rental vacancy rate receded by 0.10 ppt, sliding to 1.19%.

Brisbane had a paltry 0.84% for vacancies, having decreased by 0.05 ppt over August.

Perth and Adelaide continue to be the tightest rental markets in the nation, with the duo spotting vacancy rates under 0.7%.

Though Canberra has generally fared better with a rental vacancy rate of 1.72%, the highest in the country, it suffered the harshest monthly decline, dropping by 0.26 ppt.

Darwin was the sole city where rental vacancies rose, increasing by 0.17 ppt over the month to 1.70%.

Only hardship ahead for renters

“There are no signs rental conditions are easing, with the vacancy rate now sitting below 1% in three of Australia’s capital cities. Across Australia, the share of available rental properties has fallen by more than half since the start of the pandemic,” Flaherty commented.

“The supply of vacant rental properties in regional areas has also deteriorated, with the vacancy rate falling to just 1.1%. Regional SA and Queensland have the tightest rental markets, with vacancy sitting below 1%.

“Rents are predicted to continue rising off the back of these incredibly low vacancy rates, which are driving up competition for properties,” she concluded.

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