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Source: Rhys Prka/The Market Herald
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  • Low and moderate-income households are still experiencing moderate to severe rental hardship across the country, according to the most recent Rental Affordability Index
  • There is currently no affordable rental housing in Australia for single retirees, pensioner couples, JobSeeker recipients, and single part-time working parents on benefits
  • Only regional South Australia had affordable rentals, with Hobart still the most expensive city to rent in Australia
  • Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer of National Shelter, says rental affordability is worse than it was before the pandemic

There is currently no affordable rental housing in Australia for single retirees, pensioner couples, JobSeeker recipients, and single part-time working parents on benefits, except in regional South Australia.

The Renting Affordability Index (RAI) 2021 reveals the growing unaffordability of rental homes in Australia for lower-income families, demonstrating that many renters are worse off than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, compiled by National Shelter, SGS Economics & Planning, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Beyond Bank Australia, analysed private rental market data over the year to June.

According to the RAI, Hobart is still the most expensive city to rent in Australia, with the average family income — roughly $67,900 gross per year — paying 34 per cent of their income under a new rental agreement.

This is beyond the 30 per cent housing stress threshold, indicating that after paying rent, there is insufficient cash to spend on other fundamental requirements such as food, medical needs, heating or cooling, or children’s education.

Greater Adelaide is the second most expensive city, with households paying 27 per cent of their income on rent.

Perth had the greatest fall in affordability among all capital cities over the previous year, but Hobart remains Australia’s most expensive city to rent in.

According to Ellen Witte, SGS partner and lead author of the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on rental affordability across Australia.

“This report shows the most marked changes in rental affordability since we first released the RAI in 2015 — especially for JobSeeker recipients and renters in many regional areas where affordability has plummeted,” Ms Witte said.

“The situation continues to be untenable for low-income households. With households having to pay most of their income on rent, many are pushed into poor quality, overcrowded houses and often far away from jobs and services.”

According to Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer of National Shelter, rental affordability is worse than it was before the pandemic, with COVID wreaking havoc on tenants and erasing gains made in prior years via rent increases and income losses.

“Low-income households have fared the worst over the past year after an improvement generated by the COVID supplements in the previous year,” Mr Pisarski said.

“It may be time to be calling for rent controls to put a brake on unsustainable rents, at the very least Commonwealth Rent Assistance needs to rise by 50 per cent to allow households receiving it to retain a level of affordability.

“Australia needs a National Housing Plan, much more social and affordable housing, better tenancy laws, reforms of tax settings, new planning measures and the removal of incentives distorting our housing system.”

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