New data suggests Canberra is the most expensive location in Australia to rent a home with renters forking out an average of $560 per week.
The figure from the Domain Rental Report, December quarter 2018 reinforces findings from the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) released by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and SGS Economics and Planning in November last year.
According to the RAI report, there was a marginal “but consistent” decline in rental affordability in the ACT from the December quarter of 2016 to the close of the second quarter of 2018.
“The high overall RAI in the ACT is driven by the relatively high income of the ACT’s average rental household,” the report states. “Low income households in the ACT face particularly unaffordable rents, however, as rents are pushed up by the overall high income earning workforce.”
The Liberals have hit out at the ACT Government with regards to rental affordability suggesting “Labor has created an expensive housing market due to its aggressive rates and land tax regime”.
An ACT Government spokesperson said the “ACT Government is aware of housing affordability issues and is working to address them, particularly the issue of growing the stock of affordable rental housing”. This includes growing public housing stock with a $100 million investment to increase public housing by 200 homes and renew a further 1,000 homes.
The ACT Government is also working to ensure that rental housing is secure and affordable, through proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act that include strengthening renters’ rights to own pets, modify properties, and to challenge rental increases.
Executive Officer of Tenants’ Union ACT Deb Pippen welcomed the proposed changes to create a fairer system for renters.
She said it has been a tight rental market in the ACT for a long time and while there is hope in the future with lots of developments in progress, “once people are in tenancies they know how hard it is to find anywhere else and they are less likely to rock the boat”.
“That (changes to the Act) takes away a lot of the concern tenants have about retaliation if they stand up for themselves,” Ms Pippen said. However, she acknowledged the most important thing for renters is “to know and not assume what the protections and regulations are”.
Meanwhile, acting director of ACTCOSS Samantha Quimby said their organisation is aware there is almost no housing in the private rental market which is affordable to anyone on any kind of income support or minimum wage.
Ms Quimby said ensuring lower cost housing is a task for the ACT as well as the Federal Government, with ACTCOSS supporting the national campaign to raise the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments.
Locally, however, Ms Quimby said ACTCOSS welcomed the government’s ACT Housing Strategy released last year.
“Alongside investments in public housing, it is equally important to meet the target in the strategy of 15% of government land releases for public, community and affordable housing, including infill development and new suburbs. It will be crucial to stick with this target whether the housing market strengthens or weakens,” she said.