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No relief: Australia’s battered renters swallow sharpest quarterly hike in 17 years

Australia’s long-suffering renters cannot get any relief As rents started rising again in the first quarter as the typically busy start-of-year changeover period collided with an already hot market.

Apr 11, 2024, updated Apr 11, 2024
A rental sign is seen outside a house in Brisbane, Friday, February 10, 2023. Queensland housing advocates are calling for the state government to put limits on the amount and size of rent rises allowed each year. (AAP Image/Jono Searle) NO ARCHIVING

A rental sign is seen outside a house in Brisbane, Friday, February 10, 2023. Queensland housing advocates are calling for the state government to put limits on the amount and size of rent rises allowed each year. (AAP Image/Jono Searle) NO ARCHIVING

The median cost of renting a house in the combined capitals reached a new record of $630 a week, according to real estate platform Domain, and recorded its sharpest quarterly gain in 17 years.

Advertised house rents rose five per cent over the quarter in the nation’s urban centres, with units also up a solid 3.3 per cent to a new record median asking price of $620.

Renters in most capital cities have been forking out more to keep a roof over their heads because of an acute shortage of available properties during a period of booming population growth.

Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell said the rental market usually experienced intense churn in the first quarter as the year got underway.

She said these usual seasonal factors landed at a time of limited supply and high demand, intensifying its usual effect.

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“This imbalance has consequently fuelled a renewed acceleration in rental price growth,” she said.

The biggest quarterly changes were recorded in Adelaide, where asking rents for houses rose 5.4 per cent, followed by Perth (4.8 per cent), Melbourne (3.6 per cent), Brisbane (3.3 per cent) and Sydney (2.7 per cent).

Vacancy rates also fell in every major city except Hobart, with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth at record lows.

Yet Dr Powell was confident the rental market would find a tipping point in 2024 as population growth slowed.

“We are seeing the number of prospective tenants per rental listing ease, suggesting some pressure has been lifted,” she said.

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