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Pressure on Sydney’s rental market is showing no signs of easing anytime soon, as new data showed the harbour city’s vacancy rate hit its lowest level since November 2013.
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The number of available rental stock across the city fell 0.3 per cent over January to stand at 1.5 per cent, Real Estate Institute of NSW’s (REINSW) Vacancy Rate Survey results for the month showed. 
Tim McKibbin, the state institute’s chief executive, said the nine-year low in the city’s vacancies is proof that the rental crisis is “showing no signs of abating”. 
“Demand for rental accommodation across Sydney is at an all-time high. Many REINSW members simply have no available properties on their rent rolls. Others that do are reporting that properties are being snapped up immediately,” he stated.
While Sydney’s outer and middle suburbs saw slight gains in rental vacancies of 10 and 20 basis points (bps) to 1.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively, over the month, the inner suburbs continued to be a battlefield for prospective tenants, as vacancy rates in the area tightened from 2.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent month-on-month. 
Outside Sydney, the Illawarra region saw vacancy rates decline by 20 bps to 1.4 per cent while the Hunter region’s percentage of available rental properties increased by 30 bps to 2.4 per cent. 
While many regional areas experienced further tightening, there were also several areas that saw an upward movement in vacancy rates. 
Data showed vacancy rates for the Albury Central Coast, Coffs Harbour, Mid-North Coast, Murrumbidgee, Northern Rivers and Orana areas fell over the month. 
Meanwhile, the number of properties with a “for rent” sign increased in Central West, New England, Riverina, South Coast and South East areas during the period. 
Mr McKibbin cited REINSW members across the state claiming that “they’ve never experienced a rental market like this”. 
Further unpacking what’s happening on the ground, he divulged that many tenants are choosing to remain in their current rental property even in circumstances where the property no longer suits their needs, viewing it as a better option than braving the current fight to secure a new rental property. 
“The availability of stock in the rental market is at an all-time low, weekly rents are rising and tenants are faced with ever-increasing living costs. None of these things are showing any signs of getting better. In fact, they’re getting worse,” he stated. 
While all housing stakeholders concur that increased investment in the sector is the “only solution”, Mr McKibbin highlighted that the current strategy is to constantly “erode the rights of landlords”. 
“Something has to change,” he concluded.

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