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Landlords retain upper hand in tight rental market

Landlords retain upper hand in tight rental market

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Simon Parker

Landlords remain in the ascendancy as residential vacancy rates tightened yet again this month in most Australian capital cities, new data shows.

Figures released this week by property research house SQM Research revealed a 0.1 per cent drop in the national residential vacancy rate during August, to 1.8 per cent.

This equated to a decline of 2,127 vacancies month-on-month, the third monthly dip in vacancies, falling to 50,774.

Only Canberra (1.2 per cent, up 0.1 per cent) and Darwin (0.5 per cent, up 0.1 per cent) were the only capital cities to record monthly increases.

“This consistent rise in vacancies for Canberra may well be as a result of decreases in the federal budget deficit, thereby reducing the demand for public servants,” SQM Research said.

“Darwin, although loosening slightly month-on-month is still recording extremely low vacancies and with a current vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent (total of 114 vacancies) it is fair to assume that the city is continuing to show all the symptoms of a severe rental crisis.

“However, it should be noted that vacancies are seasonally at a low point.”

Managing director of SQM Research, Louis Christopher, said they had noted some commentary elsewhere suggesting that rental listings may have increased.

“However, from our calculations, the increased listings are being absorbed rather quickly and largely failing to make stay on the market beyond three weeks,” he said.

“However, one other observation made is that vacancies do appear to be rising in a number of prestige property locations and we think that this is because of the cancellation of certain ‘away-from-home accommodation allowances’, which were used primarily by executives in prestige real estate.”

SQM's data showed that Adelaide’s residential vacancy rate remained steady month-on-month at 1.6 per cent; Perth’s vacancy rate eased by 0.1 per cent to 0.6 per cent; Melbourne booked a 0.1 per cent drop to 2.8 per cent; Brisbane didn’t change from 1.5 per cent; Sydney also remained unchanged at 1.8 per cent; and Hobart saw no change in its vacancy rate, at 2.7 per cent.

Earlier this week, the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) reported that in the three months to August, median house rents rose by $10 to $450 per week, while units, apartments and villas rose by $20 to $430 per week.

"We have also seen the vacancy rate for available properties tighten in the three months to August, with REIWA recording a measure of just 1.8 per cent across the city,” REIWA president, David Airey, said.

Mr Airey said the pressure in the rental system was coming from a combination of strong population growth, first home buyer activity and weak investor interest.

“Our state has the highest rate of population growth in the country and this is placing increasing demand on the rental system,” he said. “The number of properties listed for rent has fallen by 15 per cent from almost 2,700 properties in early July to 2,300 by the end of August."

SQM said its calculations of vacancies are based on online rental listings that have been advertised for three weeks or more compared to the total number of established rental properties.

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Landlords retain upper hand in tight rental market
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