Hobart has jumped further ahead of Sydney as the least affordable city to rent in Australia, the latest release of the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) has found.
The RAI is an indicator of the price of rents relative to household incomes based on new rental agreements. It is released biannually by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, SGS Economics & Planning and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Partner at SGS Economics and Planning Ellen Witte said that even households on average incomes in Hobart are now at risk of rental stress.
“Tasmania’s capital city is in a housing gridlock,” Ms Witte said.
“Rental affordability in Hobart dived even lower during winter. Working families are now facing rental stress, with the average income household now paying 30 per cent of income on rent. This means these households are unable to save sufficiently for a deposit on a mortgage.”
But the index found that rental affordability in some other Australian cities, including Sydney, has improved marginally.
In many cases, however, the gains have not flowed through to low-income households for whom affordability remains severe.
CEO at Community Sector Banking Andrew Cairns said that rental stress is affecting the majority of very low-income households in Australia.
“Pensioners and single parents are hit particularly hard,” Mr Cairns said.
Executive officer at National Shelter Adrian Pisarski said that the situation facing the nation’s renters remains poor.
“It is clear to National Shelter we need a national housing strategy to help improve the dire situation [that] far too many renters across Australia experience,” Mr Pisarksi said.
“Compared to improvement in purchase affordability, renters are doing it tough. While we have many housing markets in Australia, none of them are positive for renters. We need a multi-party commitment to improve rental affordability over the long term.”
Executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence Conny Lenneberg said that the index “starkly” shows those who can least afford to pay are the ones paying the highest price.
“High rents are pushing unemployed people on very low Newstart payments into deeper poverty.
“Jobseekers are forced out to the urban fringes of our cities to find suitable accommodation, but that places them far from jobs and public transport connections. Housing cost pressures mean some renters on Centrelink are being pushed into homelessness.”