Rental property website Rent.com.au has released its report for January 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:

  • Western Australia records a 31% decrease in its vacancy rate in the past 6 months, as supply struggles to increase as fast as demand.
  • Adelaide recorded the most significant change in median rent in January 2021, affected by growth in median rents for both property types.
  • Median rents were consistently up in Perth, Adelaide and Hobart month-on-month for both apartments and houses.

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

Metro areaApartments% changeHouses% changePrice per room% change
SYDNEY$4753.20%$6000%$2600%
MELBOURNE$3800%$4401.10%$1954.20%
BRISBANE$4100.70%$467-0.60%$1852.70%
PERTH$3751.30%$4302.30%$1564%
ADELAIDE$3457.60%$4205%$1532%
HOBART$3832.10%$4804.30%$1872.10%
DARWIN$4000%$5701.70%$1755.40%
CANBERRA$4953.10%$5970%$2474.20%
National median$4201.20%$4701%$2052.50%
Source: Rent.com.au 2021
Read more: How long before my application is approved?

Price trends in January 2021

Median rents.

As we venture into the start of 2021, median rents are increasing in many states and territories as vacancies remain low and supply struggles to increase as fast as demand. In the last six months, vacancies in Western Australia have fallen by a staggering 31%, which shows how the state’s strong economy, hard border stance and influx of residents returning from overseas have put increasing pressure on the rental market.

Greg Bader, CEO at Rent.com.au said Perth was well-positioned at the base of a growth curve, with rental prices likely to increase from March once the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act expires. “The end of the moratorium will likely give way to rental increases in what’s already a pretty competitive market,” he said.

Queensland and the Northern Territory have also seen similar trends, with vacancy drops of 23% and 25%. Victoria was the only state to see trends reverse, with a 36% increase in available rentals in the past six months. Over in New South Wales, vacancies declined by 11% in the same period, South Australia by 19%, Australian Capital Territory by 10% and Tasmania by 12%.

It has been well publicised that the effect of COVID-19 has seen regional areas pick up strong rental demand. Katie Tilden Bingham, Head of Property Management for Raine & Horne Gosford, NSW said the rental market on the Central Coast has been robust: “Between our two offices (Gosford and East Gosford), our vacancy rate is sitting at 0.6%,” she said. “The last time we saw this kind of vacancy was back in February 2014! We’re currently fielding hundreds of enquiries per property, with houses proving most popular. Despite the impact of COVID-19, this suggests significant activity as we continue to see a rise in Sydneysiders relocating to the Central Coast to escape the hotspots and take advantage of the lifestyle,” she added.

At city level, houses and apartments are working as relatively separate markets over in NSW. Adam Freitas, New Business Executive with Raine & Horne Newtown said Sydney’s city fringe of the inner-west house market is currently experiencing high volumes of tenant activity. “We’ve seen an increase in rental prices for houses and shorter days on market,” he said. “The apartment market is showing signs of improvement in some pockets; however, this market continues to be hit-and-miss with stock levels outweighing demand.”

Price per room.

Rent.com.au’s price per room metric offers another way to look at the cost of renting in Australia. Looking at the annual change from the January data, all metro capitals bar one (Melbourne) saw an upward trend in price per room for apartments, with the most significant change in Darwin, up 12.6% to $187/week. All house room prices were also up in January, with the steepest increase seen in Perth and Darwin (up 14.3%) to $140/week and $160/week respectively.

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

Metro areaApartments% change from JAN 2020Houses% change from JAN 2020
SYDNEY$3150%$2136.80%
MELBOURNE$235-9.60%$1507.10%
BRISBANE$2200%$1505.90%
PERTH$22510.90%$14014.30%
ADELAIDE$1771.40%$1406.30%
HOBART$2354.40%$1681.30%
DARWIN$18712.60%$16014.30%
CANBERRAn/an/a$19510.40%
National median$260-3.70%$1606.70%
Source: Rent.com.au 2021
Read more: Rental applications: How long before I’m approved? 

Regional rents.

Regional Northern Territory was the most unaffordable across the country for the average renter in January 2021. Prices for rentals in the territory’s outlying regions averaged $435/week, despite a 9.8% fall in rents.

Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland also recorded a fall in the median rent, month-on-month, down 2.8%, 0.8% and 0.8% respectively.
Median rents remained relatively consistent across Australia, with no change recorded in New South Wales, Victoria or Western Australia from December 2020.

Table 3: Regional rents in January 2021

State/TerritoryJan-21% change from Dec ‘20
NSW$4200%
VIC$3500%
QLD$398-0.50%
WA$3800%
SA$297-0.80%
TAS$340-2.80%
NT$435-9.80%
ACTn/an/a
National median$4000%
Source: Rent.com.au 2021

Time on market.

Table 4: Time on market in January 2021

Metro areaAPARTMENT days on market JAN 2021% change from DEC 2020% change from JAN 2020HOUSES days on market JAN 2021% change from DEC 2020% change from JAN 2020
SYDNEY39 days30% slower7.6% slower28 days33% slower21.6% faster
MELBOURNE48 days15% slower84.8% slower31 days36% slower6.5% slower
BRISBANE22 days5% faster0.5% slower17 days12% slower29.7% faster
PERTH22 days14% slower27.2% faster20 days25% slower29.4% faster
ADELAIDE23 days8% slower17.2% slower17 days13% slower22.6% faster
HOBART15 days25% faster12.2% slower19 days37% slower1.9% slower
DARWIN20 days0% change49% faster21 days37% slower49.3% faster
CANBERRA19 days20% slower18.8% faster20 days43% slower30% faster
Source: Rent.com.au 2021

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

Of all metro areas, Canberra was the one to record the most significant change to time on market, month-on-month. Houses leased slowest in the ACT capital in January, coming off the market in 20 days (43% slower). Year-on-year, the metro capital to record the greatest change was Melbourne, today taking 84% longer (now 48 days) to move an apartment than it did in January 2020

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