The Greens have proposed a nationwide rent freeze for the next two years to curb the cost-of-living crisis, rejecting criticism from some experts that the plan could trigger a landlord sell-off.
The suggested plan comes amid a national cost-of-living crisis with rents rising seven times faster than wages, according to a recent analysis, with shocking examples coming to light of landlords even renting out their balconies as rooms. in major cities for $300 a week.
Max Chandler-Mather, an MP for the Greens for Griffith in south Brisbane, argues that the controversial policy would give tenants some stability and relief amid skyrocketing prices across the board.
The minority party is also calling on the government to end evictions without cause as part of its package of proposals, all of which have been rejected by the Labor government.
The Greens have proposed a nationwide rent freeze for the next two years to curb the cost of living crisis.
Instead, Labor is arguing for its Australia Housing Futures Fund, pumping $10bn into the construction of 30,000 more houses over the span of five years, which Chandler-Mather says would provide little or no relief for tenants.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia about the housing crisis and the government’s response, Chandler-Mather said: “A two-year emergency freeze on rent increases will give tenant income a chance to catch up.”
Earlier this week, Mr. Chandler-Mather asked Dr. Chalmers a question, referring to a recent analysis that found tenants would pay an additional $10 billion to landlords this year in rent increases.
He said: “Will the government finally agree to do the same with rents and freeze rent increases on the National Cabinet agenda, as well as doubling rental assistance in the budget to help stem this growing crisis?”
Dr. Chalmers evaded the question, instead pointing to Labor’s housing fund.
“I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone in this place that we don’t have enough rental properties in this country,” said Dr. Chalmers.
‘Vacancy rates are incredibly low. The rents are too high.
‘We recognize that Australians are under pressure. We recognize that Australian tenants are having a particularly difficult time in the context of low vacancy rates and unacceptably high rents.
“The best way to deal with that is to build more properties, and that’s what we intend to do.”
Chandler-Mather later described the response as a lack of response.
Max Chandler-Mather, the Greens MP for Griffith in south Brisbane, stressed the importance of such a policy after a recent analysis found that tenants would pay an additional $10bn to landlords this year in rent increases.
“The treasurer did not answer my question about the rent crisis because Labor has no single policy to help the millions of tenants facing another $10bn worth of rent increases this year alone,” he told the Daily. Mail Australia.
‘Australia’s Future of Housing Labor Fund does nothing for tenants, secures $500m in cuts to housing finance, and will see shortages of affordable and social housing grow to more than 680,000 homes in five years.
And on her Facebook page, Chandler-Mather doubled down on that criticism, saying: “It’s time Labor stopped making decisions that will make the housing crisis worse.”
But there are vocal critics of such measures, who suggest that rent freezes actually put renters at greater risk of long-term homelessness.
Propertyology’s head of research, Simon Pressley, spoke about the shortcomings of the proposal when it was first put forward, explaining that owners are unlikely to accept a cap on their income potential.
“Many of them are fed up with being squeezed constantly,” he told Your Investment Property.
‘Many owners will sell and tens of thousands of tenants will be displaced with nowhere to go. When that happens, blood will be on the hands of the politicians who refused to support the supply-for-hire policies.’
And while the idea is seductive, especially to renters, there are concerns that if all landlords suddenly decide not to rent, it could spell disaster.
Chandler-Mather told Daily Mail Australia that even that would be a win-win scenario, and something her party has considered.
Dr Chalmers evaded the question, instead pointing to Labor’s Australia Housing Future Fund, which plans to build more houses. Instead, he shifted focus to the Future Fund, saying: ‘I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone in this place that we don’t have enough rental properties in this country. Vacancy rates are incredibly low. The rents are too high’
The Greens’ proposal would include taxing vacant property and phasing out negative-leverage and capital gains tax concessions, as well as a rent freeze.
As a result, Chandler-Mather said, ‘even when an investor tried to leave their property vacant, they would be taxed, pushing them to sell to a tenant or rent their property.
‘At the end of the day, many first-time homebuyers are stymied by skyrocketing home prices and wealthy investors hoarding property.
“If investors don’t want to see reasonable rent caps, they can sell their investment properties and allow a tenant to buy their first home.”
Dr. Chris Martin, a senior fellow at the UNSW City Futures Research Center, also took up the proposal last year.
The national vacancy rate is currently at 0.8 percent.
In an article written for the university, Dr. Martin argued that housing is often used as a means to increase wealth, rather than a necessity.
“There should be a regulation of rents in principle because everyone needs a home and the consequences of not having it are disastrous,” he said.
Chandler-Mather polled 500 renters in her Griffith constituency and found that 75 percent supported freezing more raises.
He said: “More generally, we have been overwhelmed with messages from tenants across the country encouraging us to keep pressing the government to act.”
As part of the plan, after the two-year freeze, property owners would only be allowed to implement a two percent increase every two years.
The current rental crisis came to the fore last month when a Sydney landlord advertised his balcony as an available room to rent for $300.
The small room, which is barely big enough to fit a single bed, generated “a lot of interest” according to the owner, who specified that the tenant must be “a child” and must indicate their nationality.
A homeowner in Sydney asked $300 a week for a balcony that he turned into a makeshift “room” (Pictured: Facebook ad for the room)