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Rental shortage pushes Tasmanians into hardship

Thursday April 21 2016

Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot reveals that Tasmania’s most vulnerable households are at risk of ‘extreme rental stress’ in the private rental market.

Rental affordability snapshot 2016The snapshot found that of the 1588 Tasmanian rental properties advertised for rent on the weekend of April 1-3, only 6% were affordable and appropriate for people who depend on income support payments.

Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre (SARC) collected details of advertised properties then analysed which could be rented without putting various household types into rental stress – that is, spending 30-45% of their income on rent.

The Snapshot found that statewide there were no properties affordable for young people on Youth Allowance. There were also no properties in southern Tasmania that were affordable for single parents on Newstart. Both these groups would have struggled to secure a private rental even by going into rental stress. These households were most at risk of extreme rental stress (spending 50% or more of their income on rent).

“There is a declining pool of properties available for rent in our state – and increased competition for the rentals that are listed,” said SARC manager Meg Webb. Affordable rentals were more likely to be found in areas with limited job opportunities.

“Because of the shortage of affordable rentals, Tasmanians on low incomes often miss out or are pushed into spending more than they can afford to secure a property,” she said. “Some households end up in the difficult situation of having to ration essentials, such as food or heating, in order to pay the rent”.

The Snapshot highlighted the need to increase the supply of affordable housing stock in both the social and private sectors. The waiting list for Tasmanian public sector housing continues to grow and it is estimated the state needs an average of 2392 new dwellings a year to meet its long-term supply needs. “Nationally there needs to be a coordinated effort to significantly increase the supply of affordable housing, as well as changes to income support payments to ensure they cover basic living costs,” said Ms Webb.

On the Snapshot weekend, there were no rental properties anywhere in Tasmania that were affordable and appropriate for young people on Youth Allowance. Statewide, 1% of the rental properties were affordable for singles on Newstart, 4% affordable for single people over 21 receiving the Disability Support Pension, and 2% affordable for single parents on Newstart.

Tasmanians earning the minimum wage would also have found it difficult to find a suitable rental property. Only 27% of the advertised properties were assessed as affordable and appropriate for these households.

Affordable long-term housing provides a vital home base that supports participation in education and employment. “Security of tenure is also important for tenants,” said Ms Webb. “It gives people the opportunity to settle in an area and build community connections”.

The Rental Affordability Snapshot was launched today at Trinity Hill in Hobart, a complex comprising 46 independent and supported living units for young people who would otherwise be at risk of homelessness.

“I like living here and it’s given me a proper address – which is something you need for getting a job,” said 18 year old Kyle Ashlin.

Further details of the Rental Affordability Snapshot can be found here