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Australians have been under rental pressure for the past few years. Rising housing costs are putting pressure on low- and middle-income earners, particularly in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. The issue is particularly acute for single families, low-wage workers and older Australians on fixed incomes.
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With rising living costs, job losses and financial insecurity, rental affordability remains a concern – and the crisis is expected to worsen in 2023. In this report, we identify the impact on Australians and trends across the country.
As of February 2023, 640,000 Australian households are experiencing housing stress or homelessness. This number is estimated to increase to nearly one million by 2041.
According to a recent report by SGS Economics and Planning, 42% of all low-income households pay more than 30% of their income on housing. This rises to 47% for New South Wales households and 58% in the Australian private rental market.
Severe rental stress is defined as spending 38% to 60% of your income on rent, which puts low-income families at risk.
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Single jobseekers, retirees, and part-time working parents have RAI scores. The Rental Affordability Index (RAI) shows that they spend 30% to 60% or more of their gross income on rent.
In the past year, the availability of student rental accommodation across Australia has decreased. It ranges from moderately unavailable to unavailable. Although these families’ annual incomes have increased slightly, they still need up to 40% of their income for rent, making it difficult to balance studies and work.
Minimum wage couples earning a median annual income of $84,510 range from unaffordable to affordable. That means couples making minimum wage pay between 20% and 38% of their income on rent.
It is clear that tenants are still struggling with unsustainable rent hikes. With rising rents outstripping wages, renting or buying is a realistic option for many people. Unaffordable prices are driven by a combination of factors, including population growth, increased demand and a limited supply of rental housing. Additionally, rising real estate prices and stagnant wages have made it difficult for many to enter the real estate market, leading to an increasing reliance on rentals.
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There is less social and affordable housing than ten years ago. This has forced many low-income people to rely heavily on the private rental market, where they are forced to pay unaffordable rents.
CoreLogic’s rent report for December shows the harsh reality of rising rents. Rents have risen by 10.2% amid the tightest vacancy rates on record, which has already put a huge financial strain on the economy.
Current market conditions are closely linked to demographic trends throughout the pandemic, when property supply failed to keep up with housing growth. Additionally, changes in employment and a strong return to overseas migration have added to demand. More and more renters are looking for their own space in shared accommodation.
By 2023, housing will be unaffordable for many Australians. As costs consume a disproportionately large proportion of renters’ income, the RAI must only consider income-related rents, meaning many households have additional financial pressures than they already have. – High rental rates.
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These additional costs, such as utilities, daily living, child care and healthcare costs, are very significant. It is especially difficult for single parents and dual income parents.
Due to increasing availability and affordability of rental properties, market pressure will intensify over the next 12 months.
There is a shortage of rental supply partly due to investors and natural disasters. In recent years, more apartments have become vacant in inner-city areas, while investors hold their properties for long-term capital gains. This reduces rent availability. With a lack of new developments, increased immigration and population growth, Australia faces another crisis.
According to the report, homeowners are competing with investors for affordability. Foreign investors are also buying more in Australia. Whether it’s new off-plan apartments waiting to be leased or investors looking to keep it as a vacation home. In Perth alone, despite 19,000 applicants waiting for public housing, one in five homes is empty.
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Investors, both local and foreign, have pushed out would-be homeowners, leaving middle- and upper-income families renting for longer than expected. This creates a snowball effect on low-income renters who face higher rents as a result.
In addition, regional areas experienced several natural disasters last year, which limited rental inventory and increased rates this year. Regional areas are generally more affordable. But the influx of regional migration has added pressure to the crisis as more people replace capitals with country residents.
Affordability for renters has improved in some cities as one- and two-bedroom rental rates return to pre-pandemic levels.
For low-income renters, restoring affordability is a minor development. Households in most metropolitan areas still face severely unaffordable rents.
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It’s also a small tangible improvement for renters in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Rental availability in these areas has declined significantly over the past two years. Because they are not affected by restrictions, there is not much progress, especially compared to other parts of the country and pre-pandemic conditions.
As a result, Brisbane has experienced a steep drop in rental affordability, representing a historic low point. At the end of last year, its RAI score fell 11%, while Adelaide and Perth fell 6%.
For retired couples in particular, Brisbane and Perth are the least expensive cities, followed by Sydney and the Australian Capital Territory.
Single pensioners struggle with extremely unaffordable rents. They usually require 50-70% of their income from rent. It does not include costs associated with aging, such as health and access to nearby shops, services and transport.
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Only regional South Australia has affordable rent for retirees, but rising rates in the region are making it harder for everyone on low incomes.
For the median rental household in each city, Hobart is still the least expensive, well below the critical threshold. Sydney remains the most unaffordable, while Melbourne is Australia’s most affordable capital, with households spending an average of 21% of their income on rent.
Despite steep rent rises and falling affordability over the years, Perth remains the second most affordable. It’s a different story for job seekers, hospitality workers and retirees, who have been hit by low vacancy rates and deteriorating affordability.
Greater Queensland remains affordable for the first time, with the largest drop in RAI scores across the country.
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Despite recent increases in welfare payments, jobseekers have the worst affordability of rent, paying 60% or more of their income in rent. In some areas, such as Perth, Sydney and the ACT, they cost more than 100%, making rent unaffordable.
Single part-time working parents are in the same boat, although health and childcare costs add to the financial strain. The ACT is the most unaffordable place with renters paying 69% of income. Victoria and Tasmania are the most affordable at 40-41%.
All regions are affordable or better for both parents. This is due to an increase in annual household income of nearly $4,500. Households in Sydney and the ACT pay the highest share of rent (15%), while South Australia has the lowest (8%).
Single-income couples with children aren’t as fortunate, but still struggle with moderately unaffordable rent. These families can only afford affordable rent in South Australia.
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Despite measures aimed at tackling the rental crisis, the gap between housing costs and income is widening rapidly. The most obvious solution is to create affordable, well-located housing for low-income renters. This can be achieved by resolving conflicts between landlords, tenants and agents for faster tracking deliveries and a stronger community.
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