National Rental Vacancy Rates Decreased in August

The national residential rental vacancy rate recorded a decrease over the month from 2.1% in July to 2.0% in August 2020. 

The total number of vacancies Australia-wide is now at 69,971 vacant residential properties.

This time last year, the national vacancy rate was slightly higher at 2.2%. House Model On Top Of Stack Of Money As Growth Of Mortgage Credit, Concept Of Property Management. Invesment And Risk Management.

All capital cities recorded declines in vacancy rates over the month except for Melbourne which again recorded an increase from 3.1% in July to 3.4% for August.

There are now an extra 2,145 vacant properties in Melbourne as the stage 4 Covid-19 lockdown continues.

Sydney currently still has the highest vacancy rate in the nation of 3.5%, having declined by 0.1% from July.

Hobart’s vacancy rate is the lowest in the nation at 0.7%, with Canberra and Adelaide also recording low vacancy rates of 0.8% and 0.9% respectively.

Sydney currently still has the highest vacancy rate in the nation of 3.5%, having declined by 0.1% from July.

Hobart’s vacancy rate is the lowest in the nation at 0.7%, with Canberra and Adelaide also recording low vacancy rates of 0.8% and 0.9% respectively.

City August 2019 Vacancies August 2019
Vacancy Rate
July 2020
July 2020
Vacancy Rate
August 2020
August 2020
Vacancy Rate
Sydney 24,465 3.4% 26,506 3.6% 25,828 3.5%
Melbourne 11,830 2.0% 18,746 3.1% 20,891 3.4%
Brisbane 8,283 2.5% 7,593 2.2% 7,154 2.1%
Perth 6,004 2.9% 2,803 1.3% 2,294 1.1%
Adelaide 1,857 1.0% 1,809 0.9% 1,699 0.9%
Canberra 781 1.2% 653 1.0% 569 0.8%
Darwin 926 2.9% 453 1.4% 349 1.1%
Hobart 170 0.6% 212 0.7% 205 0.7%
National 75,741 2.2% 71,760 2.1% 69,971 2.0%

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.

Some Capital City CBD locations have recorded vacancy rate declines over the month, with Sydney CBD dropping to 12.9%, down from its all-time high of 16.2% in May.

Brisbane CBD’s vacancy rate decreased to 11.4% down from its high of 14.0% in June. 

However, Melbourne’s CBD has increased to a new all-time high of 10.0%, up from 8.8% in July.

Adelaide CBD has also increased from 7.6% in July to 8.4%.  Perth CBD has remained stable over the month at 5.5%.

Most regional locations recorded falls in rental vacancy rates, highlighting the ongoing shift away from inner suburban living into areas offering more room and distancing for occupiers.

Sydney’s Blue Mountains fell to a record low rental vacancy rate of just 0.7%, as did Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

While Queensland’s Ipswich fell to just 0.9%.

Asking Rents

Over the month, Capital City average asking rents decreased 1.1% for houses and 0.7% for units for the week ending 12 September 2020 to record asking rents of $529 per week for houses and $414 per week for units.

Most capital cities recorded declines in both house and unit rents except for Perth and Darwin. rent property

Darwin recorded the highest rental increases in the country – up 6.0% for house rents and 1.0% for unit rents.

Hobart recorded the highest decline in unit rents of 4.3% and Sydney recorded the highest decline in house rents of 1.7%.

Adelaide recorded a 0.4% increase in house rents but a 0.4% decline in unit rents.

Year on year, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart also recorded declines in asking rents for both houses and units, Sydney in particular recording a high 8.0% decline for houses and 8.1% decline for units in August 2019.

The shift towards regional living continues at pace, largely at the expense of higher inner city rental vacancy rates.

I suspect there will have to be a high point in this move soon.

However, I also suspect there will be a degree of permanency with the massive population shift.

Meanwhile Sydney and Melbourne rents continue to fall providing leasing opportunities for tenants who have chosen to stay in town.


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Louis Christopher


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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