Politics

There Are Literally No Affordable Rental Properties In Most Australian Cities

Here are the extremely depressing numbers.

We all know affordable rent in Australia is hard to find, but new figures reveal rental affordability has actually hit new lows. According to Anglicare Australia’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot, there are a grand total of zero rental properties in most Australian capital cities that are affordable for a person on Newstart or Youth Allowance.

That’s right, zero. As in, if you’re a person on Newstart or Youth Allowance living in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin or Perth, there’s not a single rental property where you can live within your means.

Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot calculates this figure based on the rental properties available on realestate.com.au over a single weekend, assessing their affordability for minimum wage earners and welfare recipients. That’s a field of 67,365 properties across the country, and the results weren’t just dire in capital cities.

Overall, Anglicare found that only 485 of those 67,365 properties were affordable for an individual on the disability support pension. Only 180 rentals were affordable for a single parent with one child on Newstart, and only 3 were affordable for a single person on Newstart. Only 1952 properties were affordable for a single person on minimum wage.

Affordable, in this case, means rent below 30% of a person’s total income, which is a pretty commonly used benchmark — for people on low incomes, rent above 30% of total income can lead to financial stress and the need to make difficult choices.

“The reality is that our housing system is failing millions of Australians,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said. “Our system is rigged against renters. The tax system is driving up the cost of rent for millions of Australians.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We are calling for an urgent investment in affordable rentals for people in need. And we need a national plan to make renting fair for a generation of people who might never own their own home.”

Part of that plan, Anglicare suggests, should be tax reform including phasing out negative gearing, which is basically a tax break for people who own investment properties. They also suggest investing in more public and affordable housing — unfortunately, governments are currently tearing it down.

The upcoming federal budget would be a great place for the government to take some action on housing affordability. Unfortunately, the government is already referring to it as a “baby boomer budget”, suggesting it’s probably going to support the negative-gearing property owner more than the young people copping it in the rental market.

They’d better do something soon, though. 0/67,365 is pretty damn bad.