The Cairns private residential rental market should not be underestimated in its importance to the Cairns region. Economically and socially the private residential rental market is important to the greater population. 35.7 % of Cairns household tenure is rental accommodation according to the last census, 31.2 % privately. This may or may not surprise you, but it is higher than the Australian average 29.4%, the Queensland average 32.2% and Queensland Regional average at 31.4%. The rental or investment market is a very significant part of our economy and our life style.
Figures from the census show that 19,415 properties are privately rented in Cairns region and show an average rental of around $310 per week. That represents about a $313 million industry in rent collected and about a $4 Billion investment. These figures are probably conservative as rents have increased since the last census.
There is a huge variation in the type of housing and the rents paid. Click here for a graph that shows the spread and shows that a greater percentage of Cairns renters pay in the middle market compared to the balance of Regional Queensland.
From a social perspective with over a third of our housing needed for renters and almost all of that from the private sector there is a need to encourage continued investment from the private sector and the property management industry needs to be aware of the tenants and investors needs. Tenants need a variety of dwelling styles and owners need regular returns at the very least.
Dwelling styles vary greatly from studios to prestige homes, so the range is strong but some of the rental stock needs upgrading and new property needs to be added. Unfortunately building starts are below the long-term average, many investors are selling to owner occupiers creating a reduction in rental stock which will place downward pressure on vacancy rates and may force rental returns upward.
The general vacancy rate has been below 3% since 2011 and under 2% since 2016. This is comforting for investors and hopefully we will see renewed investment in the region.