Rental affordability dropped in most cities during 2021, according to new report

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

Finding an affordable place to live has become a battle for many Australians, and the pandemic has made it tougher in most cities.

The latest annual report on rental affordability, the Rental Affordability Index, has once again found Hobart is the least affordable city, with the average household spending 34 per cent of its income on rent if renting at the median rate.

The report compares average rents with average incomes in locations across Australia.

At the other end of the scale, Melbourne is the most affordable, followed by Sydney, with renters spending 20 and 24 per cent of their income on rent in those cities respectively.

Perth had the largest drop in affordability of any capital city and is now even less affordable than Sydney or Melbourne.

Perth woman Rebecca Lafferty has about a month left on the lease for her apartment and she’s struggling to find somewhere else to live.

“My mental health has taken a big beating,” she said.

“I can’t make plans, I just need a roof over my head.”

The 33-year-old has been on the hunt for a new home since April, when she was told her apartment would be sold.

She’s not working because she is waiting for knee surgery, but with her savings and a job on the way, her budget is about $310 a week, which doesn’t seem to be going far.

“I do have fantastic references, I have never been blacklisted and I’m a clean freak, but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad.

“I know there are a lot more people worse off than me, that are homeless, living on the street.

“I am lucky that I’ve got a roof over my head, but come January… I’ve got my fingers, arms and legs crossed.”

Improvements in affordability ‘wiped out’ in the last 12 months

The last 12 months have seen rental affordability go backwards, according to Adrian Pisarski, executive officer of National Shelter.

“Over the last four to five years, particularly in Melbourne and Perth but in other major cities, we had seen some improvement in rental affordability — all of that has been wiped out by the last 12 months,” he said.

“Particularly for lower-income households, we’ve seen that the JobSeeker supplement and the additional income support arrangements that were put in place, which lifted them in many cases to an affordable level, have now gone and the rents have gone up.”

He said renting in regional areas was also less affordable now than in the last five years.

“Higher-income households [are] moving to the regions to get larger houses because people can work from home… and displacing local people from those regional rental markets.”

National Shelter is one of the organisations behind the Rental Affordability Index, which is conducted by SGS Economics and Planning.

Mr Pisarski said tough rental markets also highlighted the need for more social housing.

“Social housing actually puts a floor under the whole housing system,” he said.

“If we don’t have enough of that, we get high pressure into the rental markets.

“Beyond that, we need to immediately increase Commonwealth rent assistance so that renters just have more money in their pockets.”

A spokesman for federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said he could not comment on a report the government had not seen.

Hobart ‘unaffordable’, report says

Hobart was the only capital city to be rated “unaffordable” in the new survey, and Hobart real estate agent Sarah Woolley said she was being inundated by tenants.

“We put on an affordable little two-bedroom unit in Sandy Bay this afternoon and just out of our prospective tenant database there were over 300 enquiries,” she said.

“As soon as a property goes on, there is a gazillion enquiries and matches for each listing.”

Demand has surged during the pandemic and she believes Hobart is no longer affordable for the average person.

“There is a high number of mainland enquiries coming through at the moment. Tassie is seen as a bit of a safe haven with COVID.

“I just think it’s a really hard market, and it’s hard on all sides.”

(Original ABC Article)