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A modest drop in the rental price for apartments and units late last year may be a temporary reprieve for renters as the market enters its busiest time of the year.

Real Estate Institute of WA figures show the median price for units and apartments fell by $10 to $420 a week in the December quarter last year.

The price for houses increased $10 a week to $460, while the overal median across all rental properties in Perth remained steady at $450, ending a steady climb over the last twelve months.

REIWA president David Airey said there had been a slight decrease in demand for rentals and an increase in listings in the last three months of last year.

But he said it could be due to a seasonal downturn in the market in the lead up to Christmas.

"Despite the modest drop in price for units and apartments in the last three months of 2012, we need to keep in mind that the March quarter is always the strongest period in the year for rental activity, so this drop may only be a temporary reprieve for tenants," he said.

"The median rent may pick up again as the year progresses, but as always this will depend on supply and demand."

The number of rental listings in the metropolitan area topped 2,800 in mid-December, before dropping slightly later in the month, then jumping to 3000 at the beginning of this month.

REIWA's preliminary data shows that the December quarter vacancy rate lifted marginally from 1.8 to 1.9 per cent, which was tighter than normal.

A three per cent vacancy rate traditionally indicates a standard market.