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Chronic shortage of affordable rentals in Australia for pensioners

Anglicare Australia has released its analysis of the country’s rental market, showcasing a huge shortage in affordable rentals for Australians on the age pension.

The age pension was designed with the idea that the pensioner would own a home, however, house ownership by older Australians is decreasing. [Source: Shutterstock].
The age pension was designed with the idea that the pensioner would own a home, however, house ownership by older Australians is decreasing. [Source: Shutterstock].

Following the release of the Rental Affordability Snapshot report this week, Anglicare has called on Federal and State Governments to invest in housing for people on low incomes.

The survey had over 69,000 rental listings analysed across Australia for their eligibility and affordability for older Australians, among other demographics on low wages.

Less than one percent of Australian properties analysed in the Snapshot was affordable for a single person on the age pension however currently 15 percent of older Australians are renters.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers, says “Housing in Australia is broken. Our figures show that affordability is down across the board. There is a huge shortage of secure, affordable rentals.

“That’s causing record levels of rental stress and even homelessness. And now we’re seeing older Australians are getting stuck in expensive and insecure rentals at a time in their life when they need stability more than ever.”

Ms Chambers pointed out that Australia has little available social housing for people on low incomes and wants all government parties to commit something to end the current shortfall in available social housing.

The report stated that the age pension was designed with the idea that the pensioner would own a home. However, house ownership by older Australians is decreasing.

Anglicare says the Federal Government would need to invest in 300,000 social and Indigenous-specific rentals plus 200,000 low-cost rentals to meet the future demand.

Anglicare says living on the Age Pension “means living well below the poverty line”, and many people over 55 have relied on Newstart.

The report also mentions that one in three people still felt housing stress after getting a rent assistance payment along with their Age Pension.

Older women homelessness has risen by 31 percent between 2011-16, with Anglicare pointing out that women tend to retire on less due to lower pay, life crises including family breakdown or domestic violence, and time taken out of the workforce.

The elderly are usually forced to move into residential homes earlier than expected because they are unable to get approval for safety modifications at home in rental properties.

Older renters with low incomes tend to have social housing as a “safety net”, however, there is little social housing currently available.

Low income rental households is expected to grow by 115 percent from 195,000 in 2001 to 419,000 in 2026.

Throughout Australia, there are only 552 houses that are considered affordable and appropriate for a single person on the age pension.

In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Queanbeyan, there are only 16 properties, which were all rooms within share houses, that were affordable to single aged pensioners. There were also only six properties affordable for couples on the Aged Pension in ACT and Queanbeyan.

Northern Territory had no rental properties which were affordable for a single person on the Age Pension while a couple on the age pension had better luck with 24 houses available that were affordable, making up two percent of rentals in NT.

Victoria’s couple’s on an age pension had 243 houses available, or 2 percent of affordable rentals. A single person on the age pension had only 37 houses to choose from that was affordable (0.2 percent).

The best state for an affordable rental property for a couple on the Age Pension was Western Australia with 330 affordable rentals available, which is around four percent of the available houses on the market.

For a single age pension recipient in WA, there is 63 rentals, or one percent of the rental market.

A couple on the age pension in Queensland Central have 298 appropriate houses, (33 percent), while a single person on the age pension only has 67 houses to choose from (seven percent).

South Australia’s main city, Adelaide, has 72 houses (3 percent of the rental market) that is affordable and appropriate for a couple on the age pension. However, a single person on the age pension only has 12 houses available (0.5 percent).

The best state for affordable rental properties for a single person on the Age Pension is Tasmania with 122 houses available, however, they would potentially be feeling rental stress.

Additionally, Tasmania is currently facing a huge shortfall in housing making it much more difficult to find a rental property.

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