May 2017 release of Rental Affordability Index - pensioners and working parents being priced out of rental

Pensioners and working parents have been priced out of the rental market in all metropolitan areas across Australia, according to the latest Rental Affordability Index (RAI), released on 17 May 2017. Rental affordability dropped over the last quarter in all metropolitan areas, except Perth.

“The latest Rental Affordability Index is a wake up call - without swift coordinated action to tackle housing affordability, Australia will become a divided country, with pensioners, working parents and other low income groups locked out of living in metropolitan areas,” said Andrew Cairns, CEO Community Sector Banking.

“The RAI shows that working families – not just low income households – are now being priced out of Australia’s metropolitan rental markets. Housing for pensioner groups is also in a particularly critical situation, given their additional needs and service-dependence,” said Ellen Witte, Partner at SGS Economics and Planning.

“This index reminds us how much work governments, the community and private sectors have to do. While the budget introduced some welcome measures house price inflation is locking people out of ownership and putting much greater pressure on rental markets which remain unaffordable and displaces low income households into the margins,” said Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer of National Shelter.

National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics and Planning have released the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) on a biannual basis since 2015 as an indicator of rental affordability relative to household incomes. This release highlights the situation for low income groups, including aged pensioners and part-time working parents.

See below to download the Report.  

Use this link(link is external) to use the interactive maps to see affordability by postcode.

Download the full report from our Publications page

Millions engage with #RentInOz report from Choice, National Shelter & NATO


National Shelter has partnered with CHOICE and the National Association of Tenants’ Organisations to call for governments to prioritise rental security and quality issues, alongside housing affordability, as a national study reveals widespread fear and discrimination faced by thousands of Australians.

The report was released on 16 February 2017 and literally millions of people engaged with the story via Twitter, newsites, and broadcast media stories.  The hashtag #RentInOz trended on Twitter.  With one third of Australain households renting (up from 25% a decade ago) rental affordability, accessibility and quality are growing concerns.  

“Governments across Australia are rightly focused on the issue of housing affordability. Affordability is extremely important to renters, but it can’t be addressed without also looking at the quality and security of housing.” said Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter’s Executive Officer.

“It’s hard to imagine a product or service this poor in any other sector. As consumers of rental properties, tenants have to deal with major quality issues like mould or flooding and are systematically denied access to a timely remedy,” said Alan Kirkland, CHOICE CEO .

“Worringly, we found that renters with more experience in the market were less likely to complain when something goes wrong which illustrates the entrenched culture of fear among renters. This is all the more of a concern when you consider the rising number of long-term renters across Autralia,” said Ned Cutcher, National Association of Tenants’ Organisations spokesperson.

Key findings 

  • 83% of renters in Australia have no fixed-term lease or are on a lease less than 12 months long
  • 62% of people say they feel like they can’t ask for changes
  • 50% of renters report experiencing discrimination when applying for a rental property
  • 50% of renters worried about being listed on a residential tenancy database
  • 20% renters experiencing leaking, flooding and issues with mould
  • 8% of renters are living in a property in need of urgent repairs

See the full report here.

You can also read the media release here.

A Place to Call Home: a housing issues paper for people with disability

This paper is part of a partership between Queenslanders with Disability Network, Griffith University and National Shelter.

The project’s overall objective is to develop a position statement on housing and housing assistance that facilitates the independence, social and economic participation and full inclusion of people with disability in the mainstream community.

The project will inform a position statement which covers the housing options people with disability require to live independently in a place of their choosing and with whom they want and which facilitates their social and economic inclusion as citizens in mainstream Australian society.

Key deliverables towards the objective include:

  • Preparation of a Discussion Paper including historical context, current policy frameworks and imperatives, the status of housing and housing assistance for people with a disability in Qld (A Place to Call Home),

  • Development of a position statement and recommendations; informed by feedback from QDN’s Housing Champions and other key consumer, community and government stakehold- ers. Preparation of a program for a Griffith Symposium on August 15, 2016

  • Development of a final Housing Position Statement which pro-actively addresses key issues and reflects the expectations of people with disability. 

Rental Affordability Index launch makes waves


The 24 November 2015 release of National Shelter and Community Sector Bank’s Rental Affordability Index, powered by SGS Economics and Planning, make a real splash in the news. Below are links to just some of the stories. 

Studio 10 (Ch 10 morning show) watch here

9News: Some Aussie residents forced to spend almost two thirds of income on rent

Sydney Morning Herald: New National Shelter data shows renters suffer worst pain

ABC Online: Rental Affordability Index

SBS: Soaring rents divide Australia 

The West Australian: No sign of ease in rent squeeze

The Australian: Soaring rents divide Australia. Also published by The Adelaide Advertiser, Herald Sun, PerthNow, NT News, Geelong Advertiser, Daily Telegraph, Cairns Post, Weekly Times Now and Sky News Australia. 

Sunshine Coast Daily: Sunshine Coast rental crisis brewing as prices skyrocket

The Guardian: Australia in midst of rental affordability crisis

The Weekly Review (blog) Melbourne’s least and most affordable suburbs 

Global Post: Australia in grip of affordability crisis 

International Business Times: Renting in Sydney out of reach for low income earners

Proposed social rent models fail affordability test


National Shelte Media Release 15 September 2015

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