Rental vacancies across Sydney and New South Wales areas such as the Illawarra region and the Hunter region rose month over month, according to Real Estate Institute of New South Wales  (REINSW) January Vacancy Rate Report.

Sydney’s vacancy rate in January was 3.7%, up from December’s 3.2 %. Inner Sydney and Outer Sydney saw slight growth from December, while Middle Sydney logged a 0.9% decline from the previous month – down to 4.2%.

In Parramatta, Auburn, and Bankstown, increased vacancy rates were driven by new apartment developments, which resulted in a market surplus. Landlords found it hard to adjust by cutting on rent, according to some estate agencies in the area.  

Real estate agencies in Sydney’s inner ring, which includes Campsie, Gladesville and Artarmon, also reported a drop in the rate over the period.

The Hunter region, overall, kept its vacancy rates steady, but Newcastle experienced an increase of 0.6% to 2.5% in January.

“Agent feedback in Newcastle suggests that it is getting harder to find tenants, with a slower market and a surplus of properties up for lease,” REINSW President Leanne Pilkington said.

The Illawarra region’s Wollongong, meanwhile, posted a significant jump in rental vacancies, from 2.7% to 2.9%.

“Agents have let us know there are a lot of new developments in the area – mainly for student housing – boosting Wollongong’s vacancy rate,” Pilkington said.

On top of this, residents in the area have begun to rent out their granny flats and extra rooms because of the demand for student housing.

The areas in NSW such as the Central Coast (2.3%), Mid-North Coast (2.1%), Murrumbidgee (1%), New England (2.1%) and Riverina (3.1%) showed small increases in vacancy rates, while the Central West (2.2%), Coffs Harbour (1.2%) and the South Eastern regions (1.3%) posted the largest decreases, ranging from 0.5% to 0.7%.