Rental vacancies ease as political housing brawl stirs

The hunt for a rental got a little easier in April, but vacancy rates are still a long way from levels considered healthy as a political fight breaks out over the housing crisis.

The pressure is on to fix worsening housing affordability, with federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton pledging to cut migration as his solution to the issue during his response to Tuesday's federal budget.

Building more homes is how the Albanese government is trying to fix the issue, with a commitment to producing 1.2 million new dwellings in the five years from July, and several polices aimed at getting there.

But for now, conditions for renters remain tough. 

A minor rise in the national vacancy rate was recorded in April, according to real estate data firm PropTrack, but with just 1.21 per cent of properties sitting vacant during the month, vacancy rates are still far from levels considered healthy.

Even with the 0.09 percentage point lift in April, PropTrack economist Anne Flaherty said competition for scarce rentals remained fierce, which is was driving rent prices higher.

Tenants looking for a new place have endured a 9.1 per cent rise in advertised rents in the 12 months to March, based on the property data firm's figures, and Reserve Bank of Australia analysis suggests there's more pain to come. 

The dynamics in the housing market keeping rents and property prices high are taking time to unwind, the central bank's chief economist Sarah Hunter said in a speech on Thursday.

New home building has been sluggish, fewer people are living together, and the population has been growing fast since borders reopened after the pandemic, keeping prices elevated.

And although there were signs developers were responding to strong demand for housing by building more homes, she said this was taking time and many projects were still not viable. 

As well as a planning to cut Australia’s permanent migration intake of 185,000 by 25 per cent if elected, Mr Dutton has also promised to enforce a two-year ban on foreigners buying existing homes.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the opposition had left many questions unanswered when it came to his proposed rework of the migration system.

"He has not been able to say for example, what the impacts on Australian industry will be, industries like construction, agriculture, what the impact on our economy would be," he told reporters on Friday. 

In the federal budget, commonwealth rent assistance was lifted by 10 per cent, providing immediate relief to one quarter of renters, and more money was set aside for homelessness services, infrastructure to support newly-built homes and other policies.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store