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A deep dive into the most recent rental income data and statistics has provided an insight into some surprising, lesser-known facts. Perhaps landlords are being unfairly labelled as “greedy” and incorrectly blamed for the destroying the housing market?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released its latest, most comprehensive statistical publication in June 2024, showing statistics from tax returns and related schedules for the 2021–22 income year.

According to the ATO’s 2021–22 taxation statistics, almost 2.3 million individuals declared rental income, collectively accounting for more than 3.3 million investment property interests (predominantly in Australia, but also includes overseas properties).

Among the individuals declaring rental income, the number of investment properties per landlord reported on were:

  • 1 property: 1,620,633 (71%)
  • 2 properties: 428,020 (19%)
  • 3 properties: 132,338 (6%)
  • 4 properties: 47,633 (2%)
  • 5 properties: 19,530 (1%)
  • 6+ properties: 19,977 (1%)

The proportion of landlords and their rental property ownership is illustrated in the chart below.

How many properties do landlords own?
Data source: ATO

Unsurprisingly, age is a contributing factor in the ability to own an investment property:

  • Less than 30 years: 92,601 (4%)
  • 30–39 years: 441,954 (20%)
  • 40–49 years: 559,846 (25%)
  • 50–59 years: 571,807 (25%)
  • 60 years or more: 600,953 (26%)

While 71% of landlords own a single property and 29% own multiple properties, the split is skewed the other way when looking at the ownership breakdown of investment properties. Of the more than 3.3 million investment property interests reported in 2021–22, 49% of properties were owned by single-property landlords and 51% of properties owned by multi-property investors.

Despite the media continually fuelling the perception of money-hungry property investors, the ATO data demonstrated that turning a profit with property is never a guarantee.

The declared rental income to the ATO in 2021–22 showed 42% of landlords reporting an overall net loss on their property investment, with the remaining 58% achieving an overall neutral or positive rent position.

This data underscored the importance of landlords and investors selecting the right investment property. It also highlighted the fact that landlords (compared, and unbeknown, to their tenants) aren’t necessarily having an easy time either dealing with their own challenges.

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