National rents hit new record high of $630 a week

The pain keeps piling on for Australia's long-suffering renters.

Asking rents rose their fastest in 17 years in the first quarter as the typically busy start-of-year changeover collided with an already tight market.

The median cost of renting a house in the combined capitals reached a record $630 a week, according to real estate platform Domain, adding to broader cost of living woes.

Advertised house rents rose five per cent over the quarter in the nation's urban centres, with units gaining 3.3 per cent to a record median asking price of $620. 

Renters in most capital cities have been forking out more to keep a roof over their heads because of an acute shortage of available properties during booming population growth.

Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell said the market usually experienced intense churn in the first quarter as the year got underway.

She said these usual seasonal factors landed at a time of limited supply and high demand, intensifying its usual effect. 

"This imbalance has consequently fuelled a renewed acceleration in rental price growth,” she said. 

The biggest quarterly changes were in Adelaide, where asking rents for houses rose 5.4 per cent, followed by Perth (4.8 per cent), Melbourne (3.6 per cent), Brisbane (3.3 per cent) and Sydney (2.7 per cent).

Canberra rents rose 0.7 per cent and no change was recorded in Darwin and Hobart.

Median asking rents have reached $750 a week in Sydney, with Canberrans paying the second highest of $685 a week. 

Vacancy rates also fell in every major city except Hobart, with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth at record lows. 

Yet Dr Powell was confident the market would find a tipping point in 2024 as population growth slowed.

"We are seeing the number of prospective tenants per rental listing ease, suggesting some pressure has been lifted," she said.

PropTrack senior economist Paul Ryan said when looking beyond the traditionally-strong first quarter, growth was moderating.

"When looking at the longer-term we continue to see rent growth moderate, with a 9.1 per cent increase over the past year the slowest result since December 2021," he said, drawing on separate data collected by his company.

PropTrack had median prices lifting 3.4 per cent nationally over the quarter to $600 a week.

“Rent growth is slowing but rental market conditions remain very tight, with vacancy rates at record-lows," Mr Ryan said.

"This suggests continued affordability pressures for renters in 2024.”

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