Research Findings

The Australian private rental sector (PRS) increased by 38 per cent over 10 years (2006–16), more than twice the rate of household growth.

2.1 million Australian households lived in the private rental sector (PRS) in 2016 or 26 per cent of all households.

Debt-financed investment in PRS dwellings has increased with a 42 per cent increase in the volume of lending to investors over 10 years (2006–16), with lending for investment at times exceeding lending for owner occupation.

1.135 million Australian households were investor landlords in 2013–14, 72 per cent owning one property, with some increase in multi-property landlords.

PRS properties under management by real estate agents increased nationally from 68 to 75 per cent 2006–16, with differences between cities—Sydney (81%); Melbourne (79%) and Perth (66%).

Increased growth and diversity of the Australian PRS in the 2000s has been associated with institutional change, including new types of organisations, technologies and practices.

  • There is an increase in the number and type of intermediary organisations involved in all aspects of the PRS: financing, provision, access and rental property management.
  • Global and Australian real estate companies and developers are entering the PRS with rental yield models such as off campus student housing and the proposed build-to-rent model.
  • Uptake of new technology within the PRS has been extensive, including online property, specialist sharing and generalist portals, and property management software which collects more data on private renters, providing considerable benefits, but also increasing risks of data use for screening for eligibility, ranking applications and targeted selling of additional products and services.
  • Practices in the PRS are changing with real estate market restructuring, the uptake of new technology and outsourcing to third parties; indicating some change from administrative processing to service provision, although this change in modus operandi also requires a cultural shift.

While many PRS activities have been viewed as issues of regulation, there are clear signs of the need to reconnect regulation with policy goals in the context of institutional change and the emergence of new technologies and business models.

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