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National Rental Vacancy Rate Rises in March

The national residential rental vacancy rate rose to 2.1% over the month of March 2021 from 2.0% in February.

The total number of vacancies Australia-wide is now 72,436 residential properties.  Australia Suburbs

The rise in vacancy rates is abnormal for March. It is the first time since 2007 vacancy rates rose for March compared to February.

The rise was driven by increases in vacancies in Sydney as well as a reversal in some of the tight rental markets of regional Australia.

Melbourne’s vacancy rate slipped to 4.4% in March from 4.5% in February, Elsewhere, in Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart, the vacancy rate was below 1.0%.

Brisbane’s rate remained at 1.5% in March 2021

SQM’s 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.

SQM considers this to be a superior methodology compared to using a potentially incomplete sample of agency surveys or merely relying on raw online listings advertised. Please go to our Methodology page for more information on how SQM’s vacancies are compiled.



Over the month to 12th April 2021, capital city rents rose 1.3% for houses to $557 per week but fell 0.2% for units to $411.

Reflecting rental accommodation oversupply, Melbourne and Sydney unit rents fell by 1.4% and 0.4%, respectively.

Over the year, Melbourne and Sydney unit rents are down substantially by 12.0% and 6.5%.

Melbourne house rents fell by 0.5% over the month and by 6.1% over the year to 12th April. In Sydney, house rents rose by 0.9% from a year ago.

Elsewhere, house rents rose in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane by more than 2.0% over the month to 12th April, while unit rents also rose.

Over the year, rents have shown strong growth in the smaller cities, by as high as 25.5% for houses and 11.1% for units in Darwin. Nationally, house rents rose by 14.7% while unit rents rose 6.5%, pushed up by strong growth in regional locations around Australia.

Vacancy rates remain very tight in Australia’s cities excluding Sydney and Melbourne and this is creating a surge in rents in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane.

However, vacancy rates for Melbourne and Sydney remain elevated.

The loss of international student tenants due to COVID-19 has hit both cities hard and the ongoing high rate of dwelling completions keeps these rental markets in surplus. Buy Home In Australia

That said we are seeing increasing signs that the absolute worse for CBD landlords has passed.

The Melbourne CBD vacancy rate now stands at 8.3%, while the Sydney CBD vacancy rate was 6.2% in March 2021.

While they are obviously still elevated, those figures are down from the double digits last year and fell again for the month of March.

Meanwhile, vacancy rates rose in the Blue Mountains, North Coast NSW, Mornington Peninsula rose for the month.

It may be a signal we are seeing a return of some of the population back to the inner cities.

About Louis is recognised as one of Australia’s most respected and impartial research property analyst. He has extensive knowledge and experience of property and is regularly quoted in the media on his insights and is director of SQM Research.
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