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Data shows rental woes spread right across the country in September

By Kyle Robbins
17 October 2023 | 10 minute read
louis christopher sqm research reb sezdqy

September saw the number of available Australian rentals drop as the national rental crisis continues worsening.

Newly released data from SQM Research found Australia’s vacancy rate hit 1.1 per cent last month, a drop of 0.1 per cent from August, as 77.6 per cent of national postcodes registered a vacancy rate dip.

SQM Research revealed four capital cities reported vacancy rate declines – Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart – while two, Brisbane and Darwin, saw the number of rental vacancies increase during September.

Interestingly, the nation’s two tightest rental markets, Perth and Adelaide, saw their vacancy rates hold firm at 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

The figures highlight the continued tightening of the rental crisis’s grip on the nation, with plummeting vacancy rates compounded by soaring rents and cost-of-living pressures placing great strain on Australian tenants.

According to SQM Research, in the 30 days leading up to 12 October, capital city asking rents increased to 1.3 per cent, as part of a 16.2 per cent 12-month rise. This means the national median weekly combined dwelling rent sits at around $594, with this figure rising to $684 per week in Australia’s capital cities.

More specifically, house rents in Australian capital cities jumped 1.8 per cent in September to $792 per week, while units, which increased 0.5 per cent in the month to 12 October, culminating in a median weekly asking price of $590 per week.

Sydney’s housing market remains the nation’s most expensive rental market, with weekly rents falling just short of $1,000 per week ($996 per week), while Adelaide’s unit market is Australia’s most affordable at $438 per week.

National capital Canberra and Hobart both recorded declines in rent of 1.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively, with SQM Research attributing this shift to a significant reduction in combined dwelling rentals.

The research centre noted the widespread nature of the tightening rental crisis with Australia’s regional pockets feeling the brunt as much as the nation’s metropolitan regions. The NSW north coast region’s vacancy rate fell to 1.4 per cent and the Gold Coast saw a slide to 1.1 per cent, while contrastingly northern Western Australia experienced an increase.

Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research, said the tightening rental conditions in regional Australia is “noteworthy” given “it would suggest the population overflow is making many look once more to areas outside the capital cities in order to find shelter”.

He indicated the possibility that rental reprieve is still some distance away given net overseas arrivals are expanding the population at an “annual rate of some 650,000, which is obviously keeping pressure on the national rental market, especially given approximately 175,000 new dwellings have been completed for the past 12 months”.

In the short term at least, Mr Christopher suggested the rental market may tighten in October, with early indicators pointing to a record low vacancy rate reported by the end of the year’s 10th month.

“Going forward, the market may find some seasonal relief after October, however it is unlikely rental growth will pause,” he concluded.

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