(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)
(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

The first tranche of 2021 census data, released last week, revealed almost one in 10 Australian houses were vacant on census night -- that’s more than one million homes.

Multiple media outlets have raised alarm about this as if it were new, but it’s actually a persistent problem. The 2016 census found 950,712 vacant properties, which then represented a slightly higher 11% of total private dwellings.

This time around, some vacancies may have been explained by lockdowns keeping owners or Airbnb guests away from holiday homes. But our persistently high vacancy rate also suggests a large proportion of dust-gathering investment properties.