Higher interest rates aren’t just affecting home owners — fewer cheap rentals are available

We’ve officially hit double digits on interest rate rises, with the Reserve Bank lifting rates for the 10th time.

This means home owners with variable interest rate loans have yet another mortgage repayment increase to expect in the coming months.

And renters aren’t getting off unscathed, either.

If you’re looking to rent a property for under $400 a week, your chances have just halved, according to the latest figures from the PropTrack Market Insight Report.

Here’s a breakdown of the data and how you could be affected, depending on where you live.

Rentals below $400 cut in half

The report revealed the share of total properties listed for rent on realestate.com.au in February for less than $400 per week fell to 17.6 per cent.

That was the lowest proportion since 2018.

In comparison, in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, 42.5 per cent of properties listed for rent were under $400 per week.

“With interest rates expected to increase further and no meaningful improvement in supply coming, it seems that renting is going to become even tougher before the situation improves,” Cameron Kusher, PropTrack’s director of economic research, said.

Is $400 a week considered affordable?

Broadly, it is considered affordable for renters on middle incomes, according to Emma Power, an associate professor at the University of Western Sydney.

But speaking on ABC News At Noon, Dr Power said Tuesday’s PropTrack figures were “really worrying”.

“In rough terms, if 50 per cent of people need rent below $400, then the 17.6 per cent figure reported today is vastly below what’s required,” she said.

Professor Power says $400 per week is considered affordable for middle-income households. (ABC News: Jack Fisher)

Who’s most vulnerable?

Mr Kusher says renting is becoming an “increasingly dire situation” for lower-income earners, essential workers, people on disability support, older people on the Age Pension and aged care workers.

“Take away a significant increase in rental assistance and this could force some into smaller accommodation, share accommodation or even in, certain situations, into homelessness,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Power says it’s not just the lowest-income households that are struggling, it’s also increasingly middle-income households.

“Think about new teachers going out to get a job and looking for housing,” she said.

“We can think about childcare workers. We can think about aged care workers, people in industries that we know are struggling to get employees.

“These people could be out-competed by higher-income households and will probably struggle to pay their rent if it is going up.”

Let’s look at the percentages for rental listings below $400 per week in Australian capital cities since the beginning of the pandemic.


In Adelaide, 9.9 per cent of houses for rent and 34.4 per cent of units for rent were below $400 per week.


In Brisbane last month, 9.9 per cent of houses for rent and 18 per cent of units for rent were below $400 a week.


Canberra had the lowest percentage of rentals below $400/week for February — 0.9 per cent of houses and 2.5 per cent of units. 


Darwin also saw some of the lowest percentages for rentals below $400 per week last month — 2.6 per cent of houses and 13.4 per cent of units.


In Hobart, 6.5 per cent of houses and 21.7 per cent of units for rent were listed for below $400 per week.


Out of the capital cities, Melbourne had the greatest percentage of rental listings below $400 per week in February.

The figures were 15.6 per cent of houses and 23.7 per cent of units.


In Perth last month, the rentals below $400 per week were 6.8 per cent of houses and 27 per cent of units


In Sydney, 4.9 per cent of houses and 9.7 per cent of units were listed for below $400 per week last month.

It was a steep drop from 11 per cent and 23.7 per cent in February 2022, respectively.

What about regional areas?

Regional areas saw larger falls in the share of listings under $400 per week throughout the pandemic, according to PropTrack’s report.

However, it says the decline has been “much larger in capital cities over the past year” as demand for rentals has shifted back towards the capitals.

For houses:

For units:

Due to its size, the ACT was not considered to have a regional area.

How bad is it?

ABC political reporter Tom Lowrey used words like “grim” and “alarming” when describing the figures on News Breakfast this morning.

Lowrey says regional South Australia is a promising location for renters, but low rents aren’t the only factor people need to consider.

“It’s the place to be … if you can find a job there,” he said.

“Because that’s what you need to pay the rent, of course.”

It’s particularly bad in south-east Queensland.

ABC Queensland reporter Michael Rennie points to the situation in Ipswich — a short drive west of Brisbane — as an example of what’s happening.

“Ipswich is often seen as really an affordable place for families to live,” he said.

“But that’s rapidly changing and, in fact, the whole face of Ipswich is changing.”

He says rents have been rising for the past five years, with the rate for a four-bedroom house rising $150.

“I’ve been speaking to real estate agents who told me they have 40 to 50 groups of people coming to viewings of one rental property,” he said.

“We’re hearing stories of families sleeping in cars and in caravans, unable to get themselves into a rental property.”

Why are rents going up?

Supply is a big issue, Mr Kusher says.

“Since rental demand is so high, supply of rental stock is insufficient, and most rental stock is owned by private landlords who are having their mortgage repayments rise,” Mr Kusher said.

He said if supply was sufficient, landlords “wouldn’t typically have the scope to lift rents”.

“But because there is an imbalance, they can do so,” he said. 

Investment analyst, Fiona Clark echoes this.

“On one hand, there’s demand increasing — international borders have opened, we’ve got a higher number of students and tourists,” Ms Clark said on ABC News Breakfast this morning.

“But in terms of what is coming online of new stock to put out for rent, it’s falling.”

Approvals for new dwellings are down by 27.6 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest data.

“We’re seeing a very big reduction in the amount of new stock available for living,” Ms Clark said.

“So we’re going to see that cost pressure.”

Article source: Queensland Property Investor

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