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Less than one percent of rentals in Australia are affordable to an Age Pensioner

The newly released Rental Affordability Snapshot National Report April 2022 from Anglicare Australia, peak social advocacy organisation, has found that older Australians on the Age Pension can only afford 312 rentals currently available across Australia.

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Anglicare Australia wants to see commitments from political parties and candidates coming up to the Federal Election about housing affordability. [Source: Shutterstock]

This is less than one percent (0.7 percent) of the 45,992 available rental listings around the country.

Over the last two years, the rental affordability for a single person on the Age Pension has had minimal improvement, as seen through Anglicare Australia’s snapshots.

In March 2020, a single person on the Age Pension could afford 1.1 percent of all rentals in Australia, but by August 2020, this had decreased to 0.8 percent. By 2021, the affordability of rentals for Age Pensioners decreased further to 0.5 percent.

While there has been a minor increase in affordability up to 0.7 percent of rentals, Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, Kasy Chambers, says that affordable housing needs to be boosted as there are minimal measures in place from Government that are fixing the problem.

Ms Chambers wants to see commitments from political parties and candidates coming up to the Federal Election about housing affordability.

"Housing is one of the biggest issues facing older Australians, but it's nowhere to be seen on the Election agenda," says Ms Chambers.

"Our Rental Affordability Snapshot shows that a person on the Age Pension can afford less than one percent of rental listings across Australia. That includes [people with] the highest rate of rent assistance.

"People are desperate for action. Instead, parties are promising more of the same. First home buyer grants will not help older people in rental stress, and our numbers show that rent assistance isn't working."

For couples on the Age Pension, the affordability of rentals sits around 1.4 percent (663 rentals), which Ms Chambers says is a "record low, even after years of poor results".

Last year in March, this statistic was sitting at two percent for couples, with no kids, on the Age Pension (1,501 rentals).

The report points out that this snapshot cannot measure these properties for accessibility or suitability for modifications, which would be a huge consideration for most older Australians when looking for housing.

Additionally, of the 312 rental properties that are affordable to older pensioners, many of these properties are share houses.

"Australia’s housing crisis has reached fever pitch. No part of the country has been spared. Rents are shooting up in towns and regions, and our cities have never been more expensive," says Ms Chambers.

"We keep hearing that this election is about living costs, but housing is the biggest cost facing Australians. People on low incomes don’t stand a chance…

"At best they are offering grants that overheat the market. At worst they ignore the problem, telling struggling renters to buy a house. That’s not good enough."

The snapshot highlights that rental unaffordability comes down to two key factors - low incomes and high prices.

Anglicare Australia believes these two drivers can be addressed through a number of different methods, including:

  • Reforming rent assistance: An increase in the Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) with changes to the growth of the payment, as the CRA is not increased at the rate of the cost of rent. Anglicare Australia says CRA payments need to be indexed to average rents based on location to keep pace with rent increases
  • More social housing: A commitment to build 500,000 social and affordable rentals, as well as supporting the Everybody's Home campaign which calls for an additional 25,000 social housing dwellings to be built every year
  • Improve and strengthen rental laws and end unfair rent increases: Nationally consistent protections and uniform tenancy legislation to protect renters' rights, ending "no cause" evictions, and restricting "unjustified" rent increases
  • Improving Australia's tax system: Negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions are favouring wealthy people and investors. Anglicare Australia wants the tax system to be reformed to provide funding for people on low incomes
  • Expanding head leasing programs: These can ensure low income renters have a home with the ability to install appropriate home modifications, which can be removed on vacation of the property
  • Protecting the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS): Anglicare Australia says NRAS dwellings are decreasing every year. The scheme provides incentives to rent properties to eligible low and moderate income households for up to 20 percent below the market rent level

Anglicare Australia is hoping to see all political parties get on board and make commitments to fixing the rental affordability crisis.

Ms Chambers says, "We’re calling on whoever wins the Election to boost affordable housing. Our shortfall is massive.

"We need 500,000 new social and affordable rentals across Australia. Investing in housing is the most powerful way to keep older people in secure housing, and stop them from going into aged care before they're ready.

"We’re asking all parties and candidates to take action, and help make sure that older Australians have the homes they deserve."

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