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Brisbane asking rents have lifted for the first time in nearly three years, potentially signalling the end of what has been a tenants’ market.
The median asking rent for houses has increased from $400 a week to $410 in the December quarter, up 2.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter and the same amount year-on-year, according to the latest Domain Rental Report.
“The Brisbane market is slowly turning to favour landlords as underlying demand begins to absorb advertised rental supply,” Domain senior research analyst Nicola Powell said.
“Available rental stock has been sliding since the end of 2017, and is now at a three-and-a-half year low.”
Asking unit rents are now sitting at $380 a week, a $10 per week lift since this time last year. The apartment market has been considered weak for years due to a period of frenzied construction.
Dr Powell said the next quarter may see conditions continue to improve for landlords.
“If this continues, greater competition between tenants will emerge, putting further upward pressure on rental prices – a marked change given the prolonged period of stability,” she said.
Property managers were already preparing for a big January, which they hope will help boost rental prices for the rest of year.
“This time last year we got more applications in the first seven days of January than in the next three months,” principal of Living Here Haesley Cush said. “We think that the market settled last year in terms of price; because of all the apartments it hit bottom and has now absolutely firmed up.”
For Rentstar property management, so far 2019 has not seen much of an uptick.
“There’s quite a bit of students and people relocating in Brisbane in the early January period. We’ve been having some really good numbers,” director Chase Bursnall said. “It’s about the same as last year for numbers of tenants and prices have been about the same, too.”
He said dual-living oriented houses were attracting a premium, but he had concerns the increasing concentration of student housing could see those investors need to cut prices to compete.
Luxury rentals were also doing well, with Mr Cush reporting an uptick in tenants seeking properties worth $1000 a week or more.
The rise in prices comes despite uneasiness from the real estate sector surrounding proposed changes to Queensland rental rules, which went out for consultation late last year.
Agents said the yet-to-be-seen tenancy law reforms were not yet affecting the market, but had the potential to do so.
The Palaszczuk government’s reforms could introduce minimum standards for properties, allow tenants to make minor alterations to a property and make it easier for tenants to keep a pet.
The passing of similar laws were a flashpoint for Victorian renters and landlords last year, with the Real Estate Institute of Victoria threatening landlords would pull their properties from the market en masse.
Tenants Queensland chief executive Penny Carr said there was no evidence to suggest any change in tenancy laws would lead to a mass exodus of landlords.
“Owners of rental properties will think it’s a mixed bag. Some will understand it’s a good idea and that people want to make a long-term home and there are others who won’t want to give up the power they have,” she said.
“The industry will argue there will be massive disinvestment and the sky will fall but it’s never happened.”