31% of Australians rented their home in 2019-20 and spent an average of $379 on rent each week, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Report highlights:

  • 31% of Australian households rented their home in 2019-20
  • 66% of households owned their own home with or without a mortgage
  • The average weekly housing costs were: $493 for owners with a mortgage, $54 for owners without a mortgage; and $379 for renters

The latest housing occupancy figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are based on data from its Survey of Income and Housing conducted from July 2019 to June 2020. The data, released on 25 May, provides several key insights into the state of Australia’s relationship with property.

It’s worth noting, however, that these figures are from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the housing boom, record-low interest rates and rising rent prices are not reflected in the statistics.

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Renters in Australia

Renters, either renting from a private landlord or a state housing authority, now make up 31% of Australian households, a slight decrease from the 32% in 2017-18.

Most of these renters rent via a private landlord instead of from a state or territory housing authority.

  • 26% of households rent from a private landlord (up from 20% in 1999-00)
  • 3% of households rent via a state or territory housing authority (down from 6% in 1999-00).
Graph 1 - Housing tenure, 1999-00 to 2019-20.
Source: ABS. Click to expand the full image

A young renting population

The majority of Australians spend most of their twenties renting, with renters significantly outnumbering homeowners in both the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age brackets.

The tables turn in the 35 to 44 age bracket, with more people settling into homeownership.

Age bracketRentersHomeowners
15 to 2483.5% renters10.4% homeowners
25 to 3455.7% renters40.7% homeowners
35 to 4441.5% renters56.7% homeowners
45 to 5426.3% renters72.0% homeowners
55 to 6419.1% renters79.1% homeowners
65 to 7416.0% renters81.7% homeowners
75 and over12.9% renters83.0% homeowners

The true cost of renting in Australia

Housing in Australia comes at a cost, and it’s not just limited to rent, mortgage repayments and rate payments.

According to the ABS, here’s how the average weekly housing costs looked for households in 2019-20:

  • Renters (private landlord): $415/week, up 50% from 1999-00, adjusted for inflation
  • Renters (housing authority): $150/week, down 3% from 1999-00, adjusted for inflation
  • Homeowners with a mortgage: $493/week, up 40% from 1999-00, adjusted for inflation
  • Homeowners without a mortgage: $54, up 50% from 1999-00, adjusted for inflation

The average weekly housing costs for all Australian households was $317.

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How the states and territories compare

Between the different states and territories, the average weekly housing costs were highest in the Northern Territory ($381) and lowest in Tasmania ($218):

New South Wales$356
Victoria$319
Queensland$300
Western Australia$293
South Australia$251
Tasmania$218
Northern Territory$381
Australian Capital Territory$363

A question of affordability

The ABS measures ‘affordability’ of housing as the ratio of housing costs to gross household income.

By using this measure, the 2019-20 stats show that housing affordability has actually been pretty stable over the past decade – and even improving for households with a mortgage.

Housing costs as a % of gross household income, 2019-20

Renters (private landlord)20.2%Up from 19.3% in 1999-00
Renters (housing authority)19.5%Up from 17.9% in 1999-00
Homeowners with a mortgage15.%Down from 17.6% in 1999-00
Homeowners without a mortgage3.0%Up from 2.6% in 1999-00

Points worth noting

Back in 1999-00, the official cash rate was 6.00%, compared to 0.25% in 2019-20.

So while these are the latest results from the ABS, they don’t consider the property market activity over the past two years.

As a matter of context, property prices jumped by more than 22% in 2021.

This was the strongest rate of growth since 1989. Moreover, rents in Australia have risen at the fastest pace since 2008.

Rent.com.au

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