NSW tenants’ union fails renters


Leo Patterson Ross penned an article at the Tenants’ Union of NSW claiming that while “there is a clearly strong link between vacancy rates and real rents”, “there is not a strong link between population change and rent change”:

NSW rent versus population change

Source: Tenants’ Union of NSW

This analysis is based on data from the 2016–2021 census period.

Sydney rents

The analysis obviously doesn’t pass the pub test, since it misses the latest record surge in net overseas migration (below) and rents (above).

NSW population growth

This surge in immigration is behind the collapse in the vacancy rate, where Tenants’ Union of NSW admits “there is a clearly strong link between vacancy rates and real rents”.


Independent economist Tarric Brooker published the below chart showing the direct correlation between Sydney real rents and population growth (read immigration):

Sydney real rents versus population growth

Source: Tarric Brooker

In the decade to June 2023, NSW added 935,315 people, with net overseas migration accounting for 791,944, or 85% of this growth. The majority of this growth landed in Sydney:

NSW decade population change

Meanwhile, dwelling approvals in Sydney have collapsed:

Sydney dwelling approvals

As long as Sydney’s population continues to grow like a lab experiment via mass immigration, the city’s housing shortage will worsen, and house prices and rents will climb.


Everybody can see that the primary solution to Sydney’s (and Australia’s) housing crisis is to limit immigration to levels below the capacity to provide high-quality housing and infrastructure.

Otherwise, the housing crisis will be permanent.

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.