Perth's median house rent increased $70 a week last year and is forecast to rocket this year as an extra 1500 people pour in to WA every week.
An Australian Property Monitors report reveals Perth had the highest rental growth of all capital cities last year, with rent for houses up 17.5 per cent over the year to $470 a week, and up 4.4 per cent over the December quarter.
Rent for units jumped 14.3 per cent over the year to $400 a week, and 2.6 per cent over the quarter.
APM economist Andrew Wilson predicts that by the end of the year, WA's rapidly growing population will make Perth more expensive for renters than Sydney, where the median rent for homes is $500 a week.
Darwin, at $650 a week, is set to remain the most costly.
Local real estate agents yesterday confirmed reports of a tightening rental market, claiming dozens of applicants were turning up to home openings.
Tino Bruzzese, director of Professionals Michael Johnson and Co, said the tightest segment of the market was homes costing less than $600 a week to rent.
Some applicants had returned to the boom-time practice of offering $50 a week above the listing price in a bid to win tenancy.
"I turn up to home-opens and see 30 or 40 groups lining up, and sometimes there are another 10 groups who don't even bother getting out of their cars," Mr Bruzzese said.
MLG Realty said the executive market had been tight since mid 2012, with home openings attracting up to 15 viewers each.
Property manager Amanda Schulze said the supply of twobedroom fully furnished city apartments had diminished in recent weeks after the CB&I Kentz joint venture filled an order for 68 such properties, to house staff imported to work on its $3 billion Gorgon gas project contract.
A western suburbs property manager, who preferred not be named, said 60 groups attended two home-opens at the weekend.
Dr Wilson said the trend would continue because WA's population was growing at the rate of about 80,000 a year, but only about 18,500 homes were built annually.
He said rental pressure would eventually boost house prices, with APM estimating the value of Perth houses would increase 5 to 7 per cent this year.
APM's rental report is at odds with statistics released yesterday by the Real Estate Institute of WA, which claimed the median price for units and apartments fell $10 to $420 a week in the December quarter.
REIWA said the rental price for houses increased $10 a week to $460 in the same quarter.President David Airey said the relatively steady rent levels in the past quarter could prove a temporary reprieve for renters, with an increase possible in the next few months, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year.