SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
July 22, 2010
Withering rental vacancy rates hit home hunters
Falling vacancy rates are putting the financial pinch on Melbourne’s inner-city home hunters, new figures show.
While the overall rental vacancy rate for Melbourne remains relatively steady at 1.5 per cent, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria says that, within four kilometres of the CBD, the vacancy rate dived to just 0.9 per cent last month.
It was 1.6 per cent the previous month and 1.2 per cent in June the previous year.
For those wanting to rent in the outer suburbs the situation is similarly dire with a vacancy rate of 0.8 per cent recorded.
The vacancy figures are not as low, however, as the crisis levels in early 2008 when the vacancy rates across Melbourne were 0.9 per cent prompting fierce competition among renters for properties. Even so, the latest data adds to other signs of difficulties for renters, such as a tenants union report showing rental assistance is failing to keep pace with cost increases.
Robert Larocca from the REIV said the ”drastically low” vacancy rates showed the rental market was still severely out of balance.
”It’s still very hard to secure a rental home you would like,” he said.
Property research firm SQM Research says there are 369,000 rental homes in Melbourne. A 1.5 per cent vacancy rate means about 5,535 properties are available to rent.
The surging demand for rental properties in Melbourne, particularly close to the city, is being fuelled by the state’s growing population. About 1,500 people are moving to the city each week.
The State Government’s Office of Housing has recently reported that median rents in metropolitan Melbourne rose 6.5% in the year to the March quarter.
Real estate agents are reporting strong demand particularly in inner-city suburbs like Fitzroy, South Melbourne, Collingwood and Carlton.