Apartment construction crash bad news for Aussie renters


Australia’s rental market is clearly in crisis.

Following record immigration-fuelled population growth in 2022, which saw the nation’s population swell by nearly 500,000 people, rents are soaring at double digit rates across the major capital cities amid record tight vacancies.

Australian population change

The surge in rents has been strongest across the apartment segment, reflecting record international student arrivals into the inner cities:

Annual change in rents

As explained by CoreLogic’s head of research, Tim Lawless, “the surge in overseas migrants and students is likely to be funneling demand in inner city areas and precincts close to universities, transport and amenity hubs”.

The outlook is poor for Australian renters struggling to put a roof over their heads.

Net overseas migration is expected to hit fresh highs this year amid the unprecedented boom in international student arrivals:

Net student visa arrivals

To add insult to injury, apartment construction has collapsed across Australia.

The next chart plots apartment approvals, commencements and completions in annual terms and shows that construction levels have slumped to decade lows:

Australian apartment construction

Therefore, we will continue to see growing rental demand meet shrinking supply, tightening the rental market and driving up rents.

The next chart plots annual high-rise apartment approvals to February 2023 both nationally and across the major capitals.


As you can see, approvals have collapsed across the board, and most severely across NSW (Sydney):

High rise apartment approvals

Annual apartment approvals have fallen by the following amounts from their peak across the major markets:

  • NSW down 70% from September 2016;
  • VIC down 55% from October 2015;
  • QLD down 43% from April 2016; and
  • Nationally down 52% from October 2015.

Given the collapse in construction, the Albanese Government’s record immigration policy is an unmitigated disaster for the rental market and will guarantee that rents continue to hyperinflate, pushing poorer households into deep financial stress and throwing thousands more people into homelessness.

Where are the hundreds of thousands of migrants and students arriving every year live when there is already a critical shortage of accommodation for the existing population?


Labor’s Big Australia immigration policy is an unmitigated inequality disaster in the making.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.