Australians are hit by unsustainable rent increases, with all of the country’s capital cities seeing a decline in rental affordability, according to new data.
The annual Rental Affordability Index released this week revealed that low-income renters, such as single parents, retirees and job seekers, are the most vulnerable and require the most active and immediate support.
but it seemsyes the rent crisis is imagreeing to almost all those who request for home.
Brisbane woman Laura said that when she and her partner decided to move in together, they never expected the stress of finding a rental to consume all their waking moments.
Despite the couple earning a decent salary, Laura, who works in the travel industry, said she had struggled since August to find a place to live.
A long line of prospective renters meanders down the side road of a Sydney street hoping to spot a $700-a-week two-bedroom rental property in the eastern suburb of Clovelly
The rental crisis is affecting almost everyone applying for housing (in the image, prospective tenants are touring a house)
“We looked at about 15 places and when we went to apply, someone had already gotten it,” he said.
‘(Agents) were telling us to apply before we even stepped foot in the door.
“We were willing to go up to $600 a week, which hurts my soul to pay that in rent.”
The RAI found that 30 percent or more of a person’s income is typically spent on rent.
The report’s lead author, Ellen Witte, said this was extremely taxing on people with single income budgets, including single parents and retirees.
“The situation is particularly bleak because in the past, low-income households, if necessary, could still move to the regions, but often away from jobs, so it’s not really a solution,” said Ms. Witte.
The national rental vacancy rate is at an all-time low of 0.9 percent, according to recent Domain research. Housing shortages are felt in all capitals and regional areas
“Rental vacancy rates have come down dramatically everywhere and it’s a key indicator of where prices are going if you can see that rates are low, typically under 1 percent.”
Ms. Witte said that the stress of rent affects the daily lives of many people because they find themselves with insufficient funds to pay for other primary needs such as food, medicine, transportation and heating.
YWCA Australia chief executive Michelle Phillips said women are more likely to deal with the stress of renting.
‘When you look at the research, it’s exactly what it sounds like, rents are rising faster than incomes across the country.
‘More women are getting rent stress and can’t cover essentials like food and electricity.
A harrowing photograph surfaced in October (above) of a six-year-old boy who had been forced to sleep in a van for months with his toys stacked on his lap. Charlie’s mother, Mackay, from Perth, had been on the couch with her family for two years after leaving a bad relationship.
“When you look at the research, it doesn’t have a gender perspective, but they are certainly overrepresented and they are also the most affected because they are mostly low-income single-person households.”
The report found that Brisbane is considered moderately unaffordable for the first time, with an 11 per cent decline in the RAI score over the past year, the largest decline of any capital city.
Ms Witte said Brisbane’s decline in affordability is due to “a few compound reasons”.
“Before the pandemic, Brisbane was already becoming more affordable,” said Ms Witte.
‘We found that in regional Queensland, affordability dropped so quickly because people were moving to the regions, especially due to lockdowns.
The queue to inspect a studio upstairs at 68 Gould Street, Bondi Beach, with each person waiting up to 20 minutes to get in, was “like queuing to get into a nightclub” in October.
“Now that the economy is open again, we’re seeing this problem get worse and worse.”
The report found that people living in both capital cities and regional areas struggle to find affordable rents as rents rise faster than incomes across the country.
Low vacancy rates, interstate migration and global supply chain issues also contributed to rising rents.
“More and more regional households are finding it difficult to pay rent and key workers are unable to access housing, especially in the regional areas of Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia,” said Ms Witte.
‘This year’s severe flooding also significantly affected affordability on the northern rivers of New South Wales.
Lismore is one of the hardest-hit cities, where affordability dropped by 10 percent between 2021 and 2022.
Eight members of the Scott family from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast were evicted from their home after receiving 30 days’ notice. Scott’s youngest daughter has cerebral palsy and several other children have special needs
“Bellingen was similarly affected, with affordability falling by 14 percent.”
The report also looked at rentals in major capital cities and found that rental stress was not exempt for those looking for a home in metropolitan areas.
Greater Hobart remains Australia’s least affordable capital city for each city’s median rental households, and has been since 2019, with rents high relative to household income.
Greater Perth is at its lowest rental affordability since 2016, declining sharply by 15 percent in the last two years.
Greater Sydney, Greater Melbourne, Greater Adelaide and the ACT also saw declines in affordability this year despite a postponement during the pandemic.
Laura said that while she feels lucky to have found a place to live in Brisbane, the stress she has endured over the past four months while searching has been immense.
“It’s been very difficult because a lot of these inspections were during the day, or I had to take time off work on my personal leave or take unpaid time off and then I let my coworkers take over and I feel guilty,” he said. .
YWCA Australia chief executive Michelle Phillips says women bear the brunt of rent stress.
Ms Phillips said “there is no one-size-fits-all solution” to the housing crisis, but having women adequately represented in the decision-making process will go a long way to help find better outcomes for those facing stress for the rent.
“There has been a lack of investment in affordable and social housing, which has had a direct impact on the housing market,” he said.
‘We need to invest in affordable, social housing, but it will take time.
‘We’re really looking at gendered housing solutions, we need to make sure we have women’s housing specialists to suit their needs.
‘We need to make sure that women are represented in those housing solutions.’