Vacancy rates in Sydney continue to soar as tenants ditch the inner city for more affordable locations, according to the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).

The vacancy rate in the state capital now sits at 4.5%, up from the 3% in March.

Sydney's inner-city region has the highest vacancy rate in the state at 5.8%. This was a huge jump from the 2.5% in March.

Tim McKibbin, CEO of REINSW, said the COVID-19 outbreak has led to Sydney’s four-month streak of increases in vacancy rates.

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"In May, vacancies in the Inner Ring hit an 18-year high at 5.1%, a result that has been exceeded in June. Looking back at more than 20 years of survey results, we’ve not seen vacancy rates this high. It really is staggering," he said.

McKibbin said the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the residential market continue to be significant, with little signs of abating. Factors affecting affordability amongst many tenants could push them to leave inner city for a cheaper market.

“For Sydney's Inner Ring, if this trend continues, as it’s likely to for the foreseeable future, we can expect to see downward pressure on rents. While this is great news for tenants, it’s a recipe for disaster for many landlords,” he said.

Regional areas are faring better, with vacancies dropping in Hunter, Illawarra, Albury, Central West, Coffs Harbour, Mid-North Coast, Murrumbidgee, New England, Orana, Riverina, and the South East.