The national residential vacancy rate declined to 2.2%, from 2.5% in December 2018, a SQM Research report has revealed. Four of the eight capital cities have vacancies below 2%, including two under 1%.

The total number of vacancies Australia-wide dropped to 72,574 in January – 9,984 fewer properties are now available for rent compared to December.

All capital cities except Hobart experienced a decline in their vacancy rates in January. Darwin currently has the highest vacancy rate at 3.8%, but down from December’s vacancy of 4.3%.

Although Hobart increased its vacancy rate marginally, it still remains the lowest of all capital cities at 0.5% in January.

Canberra (0.9%), Adelaide (1.1%) and Melbourne (1.9%) also have low vacancies. Brisbane’s vacancy rate has dropped from 3.6% to 2.7% in the past year, while Perth’s has reduced from 4.4% a year ago to 3% now.

Sydney’s vacancy rate, although declining, is still currently the second highest of all capital cities at 3.2%, with 22,426 properties available for rent – which is higher than January 2018 (2.3%)

A decline in vacancies is expected in January, as December usually has a higher seasonal listings.

“Going forward, we expect another seasonal decline in vacancies during February,” says SQM’s Louis Christopher.

The overall decrease in vacancies saw asking rents for houses increase 0.2% over the month to 12 February to $560 per week. Unit asking rents also increased 0.7% to $442 per week.