Where is renting most common?

The 2016 Census data provides the opportunity to look at the areas across the nation which have had the highest proportion of rental properties.

The 2016 Census showed that 30.9% of residential properties nationally were rented.  The proportion of properties rented has been trending higher, increasing from 29.6% at the time of the 2011 Census and 27.2% at the time of the 2006 Census.  While the proportion of dwellings being rented is climbing, the proportion of properties owned without a mortgage has also been trending lower and the rate of home ownership has diminished.

Importantly, properties classified as rentals aren’t just owned by private investors.  The Census data shows almost 12% of rented dwellings are owned by state or territory housing authorities and 2% are owned by community/church groups.  The vast majority of rental are owned by investors, with 60% being rented through a real estate agent, while a surprisingly high 20% of rented dwellings are rented by individuals not in the same household.

The list provided in this report shows the SA2 regions of the country that had the highest proportion of properties rented at the time of the 2016 Census.  As an aside, an SA2 region, on average, is home to 10,000 residents and, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the purpose of the SA2 region is to represent a community that interacts together socially and economically.

Top 50 SA2 regions of Australia with the highest proportion
of properties rented, 2016 Census


The table also shows the proportion of properties rented over the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Census.  Note that only regions with at least 1,000 total properties at the time of the 2016 Census have been included on the list.

Across the top 50 list, only nine of the 50 regions listed had a lower proportion of properties rented in 2016 compared to the proportion at the time of the 2006 Census.  Interestingly, three of these regions were the top three most rental-centric regions (Torres Straight Islands, East Arnhem and Nhulunbuy).  Note that the rental accommodation in these three regions is predominately provided by government.

Looking at the list of these most rental-centric regions, they can generally be characterised as being: mining and resource related regions, inner-city locations or areas which have undergone significant increases in housing density over recent years.

Over the past 10 years some of these regions have seen a significant increase in the proportion of properties being rented.  In Pimpama which is half way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast the proportion of properties rented has increased from 29.9% in 2006 to 62.7% in 2016.  South Hedland, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, has also seen a significant increase in the instances of renting from 36.0% in 2006 to 65.6% in 2016.

By the time of the next Census is 2021 it is anticipated that the proportion of properties that are rented will have increased further given a growing population and ongoing housing affordability pressures, particularly within the largest housing markets (Sydney and Melbourne).

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