Rental Affordability Index for Australia 

National Shelter, Community Sector Bank and SGS Economics and Planning have partnered to launch Australia's first Rental Affordability Index.

The Index reveals the depth and extremity of housing stress faced by renters in the current market. Both low income and moderate income households suffer poverty due to high rental costs.

Housing stress occurs when households pay 30% or more on rent. Low income households are having to pay around 65% of income on rent to access a tenancy. This means that rents are extremely unaffordable. 

This first issue of the Index reveals evidence that low income households are in a dire situation, single income households are worst off and rent costs are now locking low and moderate income households out of inner cities. 

To read the media release click here.

To see the full report click here.

For more analysis from SGS Economics and Planning, who did the research, click here.

For interactive maps, click here


What's new

Mini summit must table housing affordability

National Shelter media release 1 October 2015 

Peak body National Shelter calls on the mini summit to tackle housing affordability including putting reforms to negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions, previously ruled out, back on the table. 

Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said “If Prime Minister Turnbull’s mini summit is intent on addressing reform then changing tax settings to reduce house price inflation must be among the issues to be addressed.”

See the complete media release release here


Media release: Proposed new public housing rent models fail affordability test. 


Affordable housing peak National Shelter has today released a report damning reform options under consideration by the Federal Government.

Proposals to move public housing tenants to market rents supported by Commonwealth Rent Assistance would place public tenants in housing stress with insufficient disposable income after meeting massive rent increases.

According to Shelter’s Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski “Public housing is there to protect vulnerable tenants who need the affordability provided by low rents.”

Across Australia public housing rents are set as a proportion of income, typically 25% of mostly benefit payments, which make public housing far more affordable than private rental housing.

Public tenants do not receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance but tenants in private rental who are on benefits do.

“We accept there is an anomaly between public tenants and private renters on similar incomes, where private renters pay far more, but this is an argument to increase affordable housing supply not make all tenants equally poor.” Mr Pisarski added

While a reasonable case can be made for reforming rent policy on a number of grounds, none of the reform options currently on the table appear to be viable replacements for the current approach of basing rents on tenant income. Rent policy reform, if it is to be seriously attempted, requires a much more nuanced and thoughtful examination than it has received in policy processes to date.

The market has run away from social housing and neglect by successive governments has let it. To suggest that we should level the playing field between social housing tenants and low income tenants in the private market is like saying we should remove subsidised medicines and increase disease and distress.

An argument oft cited to change rent policy is that low public rents create a disincentive to work. A recent study by the Productivity Commission has found public tenants are no less likely to find or retain work than others when the characteristics of public tenants is taken into account.

The Shelter study finds that the current rent setting for most public tenants is required to provide affordability close to services and opportunities. Reform is required to ensure financial sustainability for the system but needs more careful consideration and flexibility.

The way to make social housing both fair and viable is to build more housing, utilise community housing organisations with private finance based on appropriate government incentives, not by slugging public tenants.

EndsThe full report is available from the National Shelter website here



National Shelter's submission to the Reform of the Federation Discussion Paper 

Australia faces a number of significant housing issues, including an unacceptable level of homelessness, high levels of housing stress amongst low income householdsand especially renters, and declining affordability of home purchase in major cities.

Click here to read the submission


Negative gearing will not help “ordinary” Australians

The Property Council of Australia (PCA) and the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) recently commissioned a report “Australian Housing Investment: Analysis of negative gearing and CGT discount for residential property”.  A PCA article cites the report to argue that negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts (CGT) for property investors are good for the country, countering recent criticism of these measures contributing to house price inflation.  PCA also advocates for the same measure as the correct approach to investment and savings tax treatments and points to a number of “myths” about negative gearing and CGT.  In this article, National Shelter challenges the PCA statements, encouraging readers to look at the bigger picture.

Recent public criticisms of negative gearing and CGT include claims that both measures are:

  • Too generous for high income earners;
  • Contributing to house price inflation by fueling demand without a commensurate supply strategy;
  • Not the most productive application of housing investment; and
  • Not adding to new builds because most investors purchase existing rather than new housing.

Click here to read the whole article


Renters left to suffer while we wait and wait for tax reform 

Peak housing group National Shelter says the budget failed the fairness test the government trumpeted and the Commonwealth must now lead a nationally coordinated effort to address the affordable housing crisis. 

While stimulus was provided to small business and child care and parental leave received attention, nothing was done to relieve the housing stress experienced by over 1 million Australian households.

National Shelter Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said “Rents are the largest household cost faced by every struggling family, they have been rising rapidly, but renters got nothing from the budget.”

“If we are serious about reducing welfare costs we need to address the market failure not wait for market magic to fix the problem.”




Read more here




Senate Inquiry findings show urgent need for budget action on housing

Housing Policy Peak National Shelter has pointed to the findings of the Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into Housing Affordability as clear evidence of the need for urgent budget action. 

The Inquiry found that far too many Australian households live in housing stress, struggle to find adequate accommodation, pay too much and face homelessness as a consequence.

“The Government must respond to the Senate Inquiry by boosting social housing investment, signalling tax reform and reinvigorating the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS),” National Shelter Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said.   

Click here to read more



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