Like Australia’s housing crisis deepened, governments at all levels are called upon to help. The federal budget will be handed over today and housing will be a major talking point.
The current public debate on housing focuses on ‘silver bullet’ solutions. What is needed instead is a comprehensive package of bold interventions, coordinated between all levels of government and the private sector.
While home ownership is the Australian tradition, it should not be the only option for safe and affordable housing. Renters, especially long-term or life renters, should be supported as much as aspiring homeowners. Rental housing policies, unlike policies aimed at construction, have an immediate widespread effect on housing affordability and security of rent.
5 rental property policies
Here are five key measures for the rental market:
1. Caps on annual rent increases. These were common in Western Europe and parts of North America. Allowed increases must be linked to the rate of inflation. This will provide owners with enough income to maintain the property while providing security for tenants.
2. Evacuation checks without errors. Such policies usually come with limits on annual rent increases. They protect long-term renters from many risks, including revenge evictions of tenants who submit a complaint and disruptive digital platforms such as Airbnb. Exceptions can be made in cases where owners and tenants live on the same property, as such transactions can be personal as well as financial.
3. Rent assistance. This can be in the form of housing vouchers that are delivered directly to tenants. The National Affordable Rent Scheme way of working with landlords is also effective. The amount of rental assistance must be adjusted to the actual development of rental costs in recent years.
4. Rental of social and social housing. These include apartments built by the public or non-profit sector to rent at affordable prices. To avoid stigmatization and ghettoization, social housing should house people of different incomes. Some buildings may even offer rent-to-own options.
5. Student housing. While education is Australia’s third largest exportreceive students – both domestic and international small accommodation help. This puts them at risk of exploitation and increases overall housing pressure. Universities should be obliged to provide affordable dorms on campus for the students who enroll them.
5 homeownership policies
When guiding people who want to buy a house, but have a low income and do not have access to the “bank of mom and dad”, the starting point should be that affordable housing is a necessity, just like health care and education. With that in mind, the government should prioritize the following measures:
6. Increase in market-based housing supply. If enough homes are built to meet buyer demand and the population in an area remains stable, housing prices at the metropolitan level will fall. That is the law of supply and demand.
Height allowances and tax incentives should be provided to developers building densely populated housing – especially in inner cities and next to public transport stations. New housing should be in the form of townhouses, condominium towers of various sizes and even small houses And co-housing connections where households live as a community with shared spaces.
The negative phenomenon of NIMBYism must be combated. It comes from the upper income classes who profile themselves as progressives who defend local character when in fact they seek exclusivity.
7. Auxiliary Units. Where larger lots cannot be compounded for higher density housing, the construction of small secondary units adjacent to (or even within) existing homes should be encouraged. To this end, the requirements regarding minimum lot sizes and parking facilities must be relaxed. Annexes can serve, among other things, to house older homeowners who want to downsize – hence their traditional name of “grandma flat”.
8. Inclusive Units. These are units in new developments that are sold below market price to eligible lower-income households. Offering a percentage of inclusive units in large-scale developments should be mandatory nationwide. Inclusive housing would lead to adjustments in land prices instead of making projects unfeasible.
9. Transitional Housing. This form of housing is for people in crisis situations, such as victims of domestic violence or the homeless. It should be free and combined with support services. It largely pays for itself because it offsets the social costs of homelessness and offers great benefits to the beneficiaries.
10. Financial sticks and carrots. Governments should provide help with both down payments and loans for starters. At the same time, real estate investments And hereditary properties should be taxed at a higher rate to avoid market distortions and property hoarding by small-scale speculators. Tax rules such as negative acceleration should be abolished.
The risks of sticking to the status quo
Why are the problems with our housing system not yet solved? Why was the crisis allowed to develop at all? Because many benefit greatly of a broken housing system – apart from the inequalities And gentrification waves that arise as a result.
Australian society should come to understand that a home is a space necessary for living. It is not a means of storing and displaying wealth and extracting exorbitant rents from the “homeless”. Nor is it intended to perpetuate class differences from one generation to the next.
Ignoring the housing crisis will result in the Brazilianization of Australia, turning us into a country of great inequality and exclusion in our lifetime. This represents a dark future in which Australia has long held on myth of a classless society will be shattered.