Rents challenge working parents, pensioners

18-May-2017

By By Megan tran

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Pensioners and working parents had been squeezed out of the rental market in metropolitan areas across Australia, according to the latest Rental Affordability Index (RAI).

Released this week, the figures revealed rental affordability had dipped over the last quarter in all metropolitan areas, except Perth.

SGS Economics and Planning partner Ellen Witte said affordability in Sydney was down, with the scenario grim for retirees.

“Rental affordability in Sydney is at a record low. A full-time teacher who is a single parent would be paying 43 to 55 per cent of the family’s income on rent in Greater Sydney. On top of rents, these families would be carrying high costs for childcare, education and after-school care,” Witte said.

“The situation for pensioners is even worse – a single pensioner renting a one bedroom unit anywhere in Sydney needs to pay 60 per cent or more of their pension on rent.”

National Shelter executive officer Adrian Pisarski said the figures were particularly worrying for older working women who had reached retirement and had not been able to build up their superannuation.

“On top of that, living further out of the city poses extra challenges, such as poorer access to transport, services and healthcare,” Pisarski said.

“This index reminds us how much work governments, the community and private sectors have to do. While the budget introduced some welcome measures, house price inflation is locking people out of ownership and putting much greater pressure on rental markets, which remain unaffordable, and displaces low-income households into the margins.”

Community Sector Banking chief executive Andrew Cairns said those barriers prevented certain groups from dwelling in urban areas.

“The latest Rental Affordability Index is a wake-up call – without swift coordinated action to tackle housing affordability, Australia will become a divided country, with pensioners, working parents and low-income groups locked out of living in metropolitan areas,” Cairns said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison this week said Australia should have more community housing associations, similar to the situation in the United Kingdom.

“I want to support state and territory governments and community housing associations to build up the strength and viability of those groups to play an even more significant role here in Australia. They are a real player and need to be a bigger player to ensure more affordability for discounted rental housing,” Morrison said.

National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics and Planning have released the RAI on a biannual basis since 2015 as an indicator of rental affordability relative to household incomes.

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