Surging property listings fail to house low-income earners

Despite a surge in listings, low-income earners are continuing to be left behind, as governments begin to unwind their protections on evictions.

With rental moratoriums in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia ending, alongside the government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy, markets are predicting a boost in rental yields as well as a surge in rental vacancies.

Victoria and Western Australia’s rental moratoriums are due to end on 28 March, while NSW underwent a cut-off on 26 March.

And while rental moratoriums in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia have been in place for the past year, renters are concerned a predicted substantial lift in rents will be accompanied by a spike in evictions and rental disputes.

On the other hand, landlord advocacy groups are welcoming the end of the emergency period, with REIWA going as far as to term it a “necessary step to help fix Western Australia’s rental shortage”.

As landlord and tenant negotiations begin, newly published data by the AHURI has shown that across Australia’s metropolitan regions, the percentage of lower-income households paying unaffordable rents increased from 29 per cent to 46 per cent over the last decade.

This is leading to low-income earning Aussies struggling to find affordable properties near suitable jobs in Australia’s major cities.

“In Australian cities, higher-paying jobs in knowledge and service industries are historically located in central areas, which in turn are well served by public transport,” said the report’s lead author, Professor Nicole Gurran from The University of Sydney.

“Housing located close to employment centres is more expensive, meaning lower-paid workers may face housing affordability burdens or long commutes from less expensive areas. Others may face barriers to entering the workforce, because of where they can afford to live.”

According to the researchers, increasing the supply of housing affordable to lower-income earners, and particularly rental housing, is an important strategy to support economic growth in areas of high employment opportunity, such as our capital cities.

“It is also essential to increase affordable rental supply in areas of new growth, supporting businesses and services which depend on attracting and retaining staff,” Professor Gurran said.

The nation’s shortage of affordable dwellings in the private rental sector available for lower-income households has grown to 173,000, with the most extreme shortage in Sydney (60,000 dwellings), where 71 per cent of all lower-income private rental households pay unaffordable rent.

“The shortage is most acute in inner and middle ring areas, which offer higher accessibility to greater concentrations of employment opportunities,” said Professor Gurran.

There are also acute regional shortages in major employment areas such as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland as well as Newcastle and Wollongong in NSW.

“Consequently, low-income renters are either enduring affordability stress, commuting burdens or both in order to access employment opportunities.”

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