As vacancy rates plummet, there is some good news for renters

Karen Dellow
Karen Dellow

Across the country, renters are struggling to find somewhere to live as demand for properties reaches an all-time high and the number of available properties hits an all-time low.

The national vacancy rate is at a record low of just 1.06% and will likely decrease further unless more rental stock is available. 

The combined capital city vacancy rate has been trending down since the start of the pandemic and is now 57% lower than it was in March 2020 and down 21% from last year. 

However, things have been looking up in the regional areas as demand has eased now that many renters have moved closer to the cities again. The vacancy rate is up 5% from last year; however, it is half what it was at the start of the pandemic.  

Of the capital cities, Adelaide and Perth have the lowest vacancy rates in the country, and the lack of availability is at critical levels. 

However, there are areas of our cities where vacancy rates are the highest, and renters have a higher chance of finding a property. 

The Ku-ring-gai area of Sydney, home to suburbs such as East Killara and St Ives, has the highest vacancy rate for houses of all the capital city suburbs, at 2.58%. 

Top 10 capital city areas with the highest vacancy rates for houses

Suburb Vacancy rate  Available rentals per rental stock
Ku-ring-gai NSW 2.58%  1 in 39
Rouse Hill - McGraths Hill NSW 2.31%  1 in  43
Eastern Suburbs - North NSW 2.01%  1 in  46
Chatswood - Lane Cove NSW 1.79%  1 in  50
Hornsby NSW 1.77%  1 in  56
Sherwood - Indooroopilly QLD 1.74%  1 in  56
Melton - Bacchus Marsh VIC 1.64%  1 in  57
Dural - Wisemans Ferry NSW 1.57%  1 in  61
North Sydney - Mosman NSW 1.57%  1 in  64
Pittwater NSW 1.54%  1 in  64
Source: PropTrack. Only includes sa3 areas with a minimum of 30 available rental properties in September 2023.

Although this still doesn't provide an abundance of choice for renters, it does help to focus the search by choosing an area with the highest vacancies as a proportion of rental stock. 

For renters looking for units, there are more options available.  

In Moreland - North, the vacancy rate is 7.62%, the highest in all the capital cities. This equates to 1 in 13 available rentals. 

Top 10 capital city areas with the highest vacancy rates for units

Suburb Vacancy rate  Available rentals per rental stock
Moreland - North VIC 7.62%  1 in 13
Mornington Peninsula VIC 7.37%  1 in 14
Frankston VIC 5.56%  1 in 18
Tuggeranong ACT 4.51%  1 in 22
Maroondah VIC 3.73%  1 in 27
Gungahlin ACT 3.21%  1 in 31
Darwin Suburbs NT 2.99%  1 in 33
Whittlesea - Wallan VIC 2.84%  1 in 35
Whitehorse - West VIC 2.75%  1 in 36
Melbourne City VIC 2.74%  1 in 37
Source: PropTrack. Only includes sa3 areas with a minimum of 30 available rental properties in September 2023.

Demand for rentals in the capital cities is being exacerbated by the level of migration not seen since before the pandemic. And the best way to increase vacancy rates nationwide is to build more rental properties. 

The development of Build-to-Rent properties, where an entire development is devoted to rental properties, is an excellent way to increase the stock level quickly.  

There are now multiple build-to-rent developments across Australia. Source: Getty Images.

Still, building enough of these properties will take many years to affect rental stock levels significantly.  

 Increasing the number of investors in the market would have a more immediate effect; however, in recent years, they have been selling up, as higher mortgage rates and fewer financial incentives to rent out properties in the long-term rental market have driven them to sell.  

Only when more rental properties are available will vacancy rates increase significantly. Until then, renters must continue to compete with more potential renters for fewer properties.  

PropTrack Listings Report - September 2023


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