Rental property website Rent.com.au has released its report for March 2021, based on property leasing data. The report illustrates the shift in Australian median rental property prices (both metro and regional), rental affordability (the median room price metric) and days on market.

Rent.com.au Rental Snapshot Highlights:

  • Canberra houses recorded the most significant shift in median rent in March, with prices up 6.6% to $560/week.

  • Median rents were consistently up in Perth in March for both apartments (up 3.9% to $395/week) and houses (2.2% to $450/week).

Table 1: Median rent (apartments v houses) and price per room

Metro areaApartments% changeHouses% changePrice per room% change
Source: Rent.com.au property leasing data (2021)
SYDNEY$470-2%$6301.60%$260-1.80%
MELBOURNE$375-1.30%$4300.40%$1900%
BRISBANE$400-2.40%$4700%$180-1%
PERTH$3953.90%$4502.20%$1600%
ADELAIDE$342-2.20%$4200%$1530%
HOBART$405-0.70%$4950%$1900%
DARWIN$3802.70%$5500%$1834.50%
CANBERRA$455-3.10%$5606.60%$234-0.80%
National median$4200%$470-1%$200-2.40%

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– Rent.com.au rental market snapshot: February 2021

Price trends in March 2021

Median rents.

As March ended, Australia’s rental markets felt quite disparate. At one end, Rent.com.au’s latest rental market snapshot shows extremely tight conditions in cities such as Perth, Brisbane, and Darwin, which have been hit by a cocktail of low supply and rising demand. At the other end, we have Sydney and Melbourne’s rental markets. These two capitals face the opposite problem – higher rental supply and weaker demand from negative interstate migration.

Perth was the only metro capital to record a rise in median rents for both apartments (up 3.9% to $395/week) and houses, up 2.2% to $450/week. Increased activity in the market in March could be attributed to tenants and property owners preparing for the end of the rental moratorium, but despite the price rises, Perth remains one of the cheapest capitals for rent.

The number of advertised properties across Australia was down by 5% in March, with the biggest hits to rental stock in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Queensland, limiting rental property availability. Rent.com.au CEO Greg Bader said rental demand would likely remain high, especially as support measures like JobKeeper and JobSeeker end and push an increase in market activity.

“On any given year, we could expect to start to see a slight fall in rental demand by late March through seasonal changes. But demand for rental properties has been much higher than last year. That said, any chance of a year-on-year comparison has been affected by the national lockdowns from 12 months ago,” Mr Bader said.

“Adding to all this, of course, is that the extended COVID-19 emergency period has ended for Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria, reinstating ordinary tenancy laws again. Victoria will also spend the coming weeks adjusting to a slew of new reforms, which will introduce additional protections against evictions, negotiable rent reductions and a pause on rent increases.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold Australia-wide, we will likely see continued government rules and regulations impacting residential tenancy agreements nationwide,” Mr Bader said. “Now is the best time to review your lease and agreement to understand your rights and obligations. Be proactive and come up with a plan to manage your tenancy with your agent/landlord.”

Price per room.

Rent.com.au’s price per room measure is another way to look at the cost of renting in Australia. Houses saw the most significant shift in room costs annually, with upward movement in all states and territories. Darwin (up 28.6%), Perth (up 16.7%) and Brisbane (up 7.9%) topped the list in March.

The country’s most expensive room prices remain in Canberra for both property types.

Table 2: 12-month change in price per room (Apartments versus Houses)

Metro areaApartments% change from MAR 2020Houses% change from MAR 2020
Source: Rent.com.au property leasing data (2021)
SYDNEY$3103.30%$2126.30%
MELBOURNE$225-10.00%$1434%
BRISBANE$2250.00%$1477.90%
PERTH$22512.50%$14017%
ADELAIDE$1750.00%$1406%
HOBART$2263.00%$1735%
DARWIN$20023.10%$18028.60%
CANBERRA$3308%$1937%
National median$260-3.70%$1566.20%

Regional rents.

March’s data shows signs of increased interest in the country’s regional centres as Aussie renters continue to seek out space and lifestyle options outside of city living. But it’s not all smooth sailing outside CBD. Regional Western Australia, much like Perth metro, is also being hit by a rental shortage. The regions will need a boost of investor activity to get things rolling and inject more rental stock back into the market. This activity would go some way to house the growing number of tenants searching for somewhere to live.

The Northern Territory recorded the most movement in March (up 8.7% to a median of $500/week), followed by South Australia (up 4.9%), Western Australia (up 2.6%) and Queensland (up 1.2%).

Table 3: Regional rents in March 2021

State/TerritoryMar-21% change from FEB 2021    
Source: Rent.com.au property leasing data (2021)
NSW$4300.00%
VIC$3500.00%
QLD$4001.20%
WA$3902.60%
SA$2954.90%
TAS$3600.00%
NT$5008.70%
ACTn/an/a
National median$400$400

Time on market.

Rent.com.au’s average time on market measure is designed to provide some context to the movement in median rents across Australia.

We would expect to start to see a slight fall in rental demand by late March through seasonal changes in any given year. But while demand for rental properties remains much higher than last year, any chance of a year-on-year comparison has been affected by the national lockdowns from 12 months ago.

The month-on-month change to property leasing time was most noticeable in Perth in March. Both property types came off market quicker last month, with apartments now taking an average of 19 days and houses 16 days to shift. Darwin metro recorded the most significant change of all metro areas, with a 17% slowdown in leasing time for apartments.

Year-on-year, the capital to record the most significant change was Melbourne, taking 79% longer (now 39 days) to move an apartment than it did in March 2020.

Table 4: Time on market in March 2021

Metro areaAPARTMENTS (March 2021)% change from Feb 21% change from Mar 20HOUSES (March 2021)% change from Feb 21% change from Mar 20
Source: Rent.com.au property leasing data (2021)
SYDNEY29 days6% slower16% slower21 days1% slower12% faster
MELBOURNE39 days3% slower79% slower25 days1% slower10% slower
BRISBANE21 days1% slower9% slower14 days5% faster31% faster
PERTH19 days3% faster23% faster16 days7% faster30% faster
ADELAIDE20 days1% slower7% slower16 days0% change19% faster
HOBART17 days3% faster21% slower17 days3% slower14% faster
DARWIN20 days17% slower44% faster18 days6% slower45% faster
CANBERRA16 days5% faster14% faster17 days14% slower14% faster

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