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NSW rental crisis grows as vacancy rates tighten

By Kyle Robbins
14 June 2022 | 10 minute read
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Some of the state’s residential vacancy rates are at their lowest point since June 2017.

The results, from the Real Estate Institute of NSW’s (REINSW) May 2022 survey, have provided a poor prognosis for rental availabilities, with chief executive Tim McKibbin considering the five-year low in Sydney’s vacancies as further proof of the severity of the NSW rental crisis.

From Mr McKibbin’s perspective, it would be a major understatement to describe the current situation as concerning.

Buoyed by the stark plummet of vacancy rates in the city’s inner ring, vacancy rates city-wide fell 0.4 per cent for the month of May.

“The vacancy rate for Sydney overall dropped 0.4 per cent for the month to be just 1.8 per cent. The drop is primarily attributable to vacancies in the middle ring plummeting to 1.6 per cent (-1.7 per cent),” Mr KcKibbin said.

The situation wasn’t much better in the outer ring, which decreased slightly to 1.6 per cent – a drop of 0.1 per cent. 

However, there was a slight positive in the survey’s findings, with vacancy rates in the harbour city’s inner ring increasing by 0.2 per cent to 2.3 per cent.

Rates in two of the state’s biggest regional hubs, the Illawarra and the Hunter, also reportedly dropped in May.

“In the Hunter region, the vacancy rate dropped by 0.4 per cent to 1.3 per cent. The Illawarra region also dropped, with vacancies now at 1.0 per cent (-0.3 per cent),” Mr McKibbin said.

Vacancy rates in the state’s Northern Rivers region halved from 1.4 per cent in April to 0.7 per cent in May. A declining vacancy rate was also recorded in the Central Coast, New England, Orana and the Riverina.

The state’s Central West was the only region where vacancy rates remained stable. 

Mr McKibbin has declared the ability to source stock is the main contributor to the state’s ongoing rental crisis. 

“REINSW members in many areas are telling us that the rental crisis is really starting to take hold,” Mr McKibbin detailed. “Demand for rental accommodation is causing a shortage in properties, resulting in an uptick in rent. This is making it more difficult for families to find affordable housing amid growing cost of living pressures.”

He outlined how the current rental climate has resulted in “agents receiving 15, 20 and even more applicants for a single property”. 

This surge in demand without adequate supply means “renters are offering above the advertising price or multiple months up-front”.

“Unfortunately, many simply can’t afford to do this,” he continued. 

“It’s a very stressful time for renters.”

In contrast, regional centres such as Coffs Harbour, Albury, the Mid North Coast, the South Coast and the south-east all recorded increases in their available rentals. 

The biggest rise in vacancy rates throughout the state occurred in Murrumbidgee, in the state’s south-west, where rates rose from 1.2 per cent in April to 1.8 per cent in May. 

NSW rental crisis grows as vacancy rates tighten
NSW sydney aerial reb
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