Notes on the data: Housing/ Transport

Privately rented dwellings: Persons living in privately rented dwellings and privately rented dwellings, 2016


Policy context: Amongst a rapidly growing population and various structural shifts such as rising house prices and the decline in the availability in social housing, Australia’s private rental markets has adapted and largely appears to be functioning well [1]. The proportion of Australian households renting increased to 32 per cent in 2017-18 with a 27 per cent increase in the proportion renting from private landlords in 1997-98 [2].

However, the size and nature of the private rental market has grown and evolved over the last three decades. In 2016, about one-quarter of all households (2.1 million) or 6.3 million people rent privately. Further, more than one million low-income households (2.65 million people) rented privately in 2018 – a figure which has doubled in the last 20 years. Once considered a short-term housing choice for young people, many are now renting for longer periods with the ratio renting in the private market increasing across all age groups, families with and without children and low and middle incomes [1].

Close to two-thirds of Aboriginal people (62.1 per cent) and migrants arriving in Australia in the last ten years from predominantly non-English speaking countries (60.5 per cent) lived in a rented home; these proportions were more than twice that for the population overall (30.3 per cent). The proportion of the population living in rental housing was lowest among older people, at 13.5 per cent. Nationally, more than half (58.6 per cent) of single parent families lived in a rented house, which was 71 per cent higher than the proportion for all families (34.2 per cent) [3].


  1. Productivity Commission. Vulnerable Private Renters: Evidence and Options, Commission Research Paper, Canberra, 2019, accessed 30 September 2019. Available from:
  2. Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2017-18: More households renting as home ownership falls, Canberra: ABS; 2019 Jul, accessed 30 September 2019. Available from:
  3. Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU). Housing experiences and suitability as determinants of health: population patterns of housing experiences and correlated health risk factors and outcomes, Adelaide: PHIDU, 2019, accessed 30 September 2019. Available from /pdf/2015-onwards/housing-atlas/housing-atlas-report.pdf

Notes:  Privately rented is made up of private dwellings rented from a real estate agent, person not in the same household, other landlord type and landlord type note stated. The data include households in private dwellings only.

Private dwelling: A private dwelling can be a house, flat or even a room. It can also be a caravan, houseboat, tent, or a house attached to an office, or rooms above a shop.

The numerator excludes the 2.7% of dwellings or 2.2% of persons living in dwellings for which tenure type was not stated: however, these records are included in the denominator.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator: Persons living in privately rented dwellings (counting persons) and privately rented dwellings (counting dwellings)


Denominator: Total persons living in private dwellings and total occupied private dwellings


Detail of analysis: Per cent


Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2016.


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