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Record-breaking house rent prices registered in all cities for the first time in over a decade - featured image
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Record-breaking house rent prices registered in all cities for the first time in over a decade

key takeaways

Key takeaways

The rental prices in the country have been continuously increasing, setting a new record for the longest stretch of growth. This is due to the rise in house rents for eight consecutive quarters and unit rents for seven consecutive quarters.

Across all cities, house rents and unit rents are at an all-time high, except for Canberra and Darwin.

There has been a notable surge in rental growth for units, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, where the rental prices have surpassed the $600 mark for the first time.

Although Australia remains a market that favours landlords, tenants may notice a slight increase in rental supply, as the vacancy rate across the combined capitals has marginally increased from last month's record low of 0.8%.

In its Rent Report for the March quarter, Domain has emphasized that the rental market in Australia still heavily favours landlords, as tenants face challenging conditions due to increasing demand and limited supply in 2023.

Dr Nicola Powell, Domain’s Chief of Research and Economics said:

"Across the combined capitals, we’re now seeing the longest stretch of continuous rental price growth on record as house rents rise for the eighth quarter in a row and unit rents rise for the seventh.

For the first time since 2009, all capital cities have record house rents highlighting the rental crisis the country is currently going through."

Combined Capital Quarterly Change In Weekly Asking Rents

Record rents are spanning almost all metropolitan areas

Except for unit rents in Canberra and Darwin, rental prices are breaking records in almost all metropolitan areas, with house rents increasing by $135 per week and unit rents by $140 in the combined capital cities since the pandemic low.

The rental growth for units, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, is robust, while the increase in house rents has slowed down across the combined capitals.

This change is driven by persistent affordability concerns that are prompting budget-conscious tenants to opt for units.

The demand for rental properties remains high, supported by a surge in overseas migrants, international students, and temporary visa holders.

Dr Powell commented:

“The return of international travel in 2021 and 2022 saw Australia’s net overseas migration gain hit almost 304,000 new people in the 12 months to September 2022, providing a significant boost of population gain for Australia.

The proportion of overseas migrant arrivals that were temporary visa holders is now sitting at 61% - a substantial driver of rental demand.

The impact of migration was further highlighted following the announcement from China’s Ministry of Education to stop acknowledging degrees gained online in January.

This saw the number of rental searches on Domain from China jump 124% over the March quarter compared to last year.

With more demand for rentals and not enough supply, renters will continue to face limited choices and tough competition, particularly for cities that traditionally see a higher intake of residents from overseas like Sydney and Melbourne."

Table 1: Rent prices, quarterly and yearly change for houses

Capital City Mar-23 Dec-22 Mar-22 QoQ YoY
Sydney $660 $650 $600
+1.5%
+10.0%
Melbourne $500 $480 $450
+4.2%
+11.1%
Brisbane $560 $550 $500
+1.8%
+12.0%
Adelaide $520 $500 $460
+4.0%
+13.0%
Perth $550 $530 $480
+3.8%
+14.6%
Hobart $550 $550 $523
0.0%
+5.3%
Canberra $690 $690 $690
0.0%
0.0%
Darwin $650 $623 $600
+4.4%
+8.3%
Combined Capitals $565 $550 $500
+2.7%
+13.0%
Combined Regionals $500 $500 $465
0.0%
+7.5%
Table 2: Rent prices, quarterly and yearly change for units
Capital City Mar-23 Dec-22 Mar-22 QoQ YoY
Sydney $620 $580 $500
+6.9%
+24.0%
Melbourne $480 $450 $390
+6.7%
+23.1%
Brisbane $500 $480 $430
+4.2%
+16.3%
Adelaide $420 $400 $370
+5.0%
+13.5%
Perth $450 $430 $400
+4.7%
+12.5%
Hobart $480 $470 $450
+2.1%
+6.7%
Canberra $550 $560 $540
-1.8%
+1.9%
Darwin $520 $520 $490
0.0%
+6.1%
Combined Capitals $550 $500 $450
+10.0%
+22.2%
Combined Regionals $430 $410 $390
+4.9%
+10.3%
Source: Domain
Although the rental market in Australia still favours landlords and the number of vacant rental properties hit an all-time low in March, there is some good news for tenants.
Rental supply has started to increase slightly, and the vacancy rate across the combined capitals has somewhat improved from last month's record low of 0.8%.
Dr Powell further commented:
“Now that we’re out of the busy seasonal change-over period and tenants have settled into homes, we’ve seen that vacancy rates have slightly improved from the record low of 0.7% to 0.8%.
This provides a glimmer of hope that the crisis situation is easing.
In fact, Sydney and Melbourne are the only cities to have a record low vacancy rate in March."

Looking across the capital cities

Sydney

  • The stability in Sydney house rents was short-lived, with rents rising again over the March quarter to hit a new record high with houses at $660 per week and units at $620 per week.
  • Sydney units are experiencing an acceleration in rental growth while increases in house rents have lost pace annually.

Melbourne

  • Melbourne house and unit rents rose for the sixth quarter in a row matching the longest rental price growth period stretch achieved in 2007-08.
  • House rental growth has accelerated to the fastest quarterly rise in six years and the steepest annual increase since 2008.
  • Although house rents are hitting a record high, Melbourne remains the most affordable city to rent a house, as other cities have seen more substantial growth.

Melbourne5

Brisbane

  • Brisbane’s house rents are at record levels but the annual outcome is the weakest since September 2021, suggesting that the steep increase in house rents is easing.
  • Units continue the record-long stretch of rising rents following the seventh quarter in a row of growth.

Brisbane

Adelaide

  • Adelaide houses continue the record-long stretch of rising rents following the eleventh consecutive quarter of growth to produce the fastest annual rise since 2005.
  • Unit rents are rising faster than houses as affordability impacts tenants.

Canberra

  • Canberra house rents held steady over the March quarter at a record high to remain Australia’s most expensive city in which to rent a house.
  • Unit rents fell for the first time since mid-2020, reversing the previous quarter's growth.
  • Rental choice has risen significantly over the past year to lift the vacancy rate and alleviate the current pressurised rental conditions.

Canberra

Perth

  • Perth’s house rents have risen for the sixth consecutive quarter reaching record levels.
  • Unit rental growth doubled compared to the last quarter pushing unit rents to a record high for the first time since 2013.

Hobart

  • Hobart house rents bucked the national trend to become one of two capital cities to flatline over the March quarter to hold at last quarter’s record high.
  • Unit rents lifted to another record high, but the pace of quarterly growth has halved compared to the previous quarter.

Darwin

  • Darwin house rents surged over the March quarter, doubling the previous quarter’s pace of growth.
  • Asking rents for units are now only $30 lower than the 2014 record high.

Darwin

Dr Powell concludes:

“With many factors to consider, we need to see a massive change to strike the right balance between tenants and landlords.

No single solution can fix this rental crisis as it’s a compounding issue of the high cost of housing, insufficient investor activity, and the lack of social and affordable housing.

Rising investor activity is needed, the build-to-rent sector advanced, additional rental assistance provided for low-income households, more social housing and assisting tenants transition to homeowners.”

About Leanne is National Director of Property Management at Metropole and a Property Professional in every sense of the word. With 20 years' experience in real estate, Leanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to maximise returns and minimise stress for their clients.
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