Report finds only THREE rentals in Australia are affordable for JobSeekers

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on April 29, 2021
Report finds only THREE rentals in Australia are affordable for JobSeekers

The rental crisis is even more dire for some than it was before COVID, as low-income renters face a market that has never been less affordable.

Only three rental properties in the country are considered affordable for a single person on JobSeeker, a new report has found.

Anglicare Australia's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot of more than 74,000 rental listings across Australia on realestate.com.au revealed the rental crisis has become "dire" for people on low incomes.

Of the three rental properties that were considered affordable for JobSeeker recipients, all were share-houses in Brisbane, Perth and the NSW Riverina region. 

There were no affordable rental properties in Australia for people receiving Youth Allowance.

The federal government lifted the permanent rate of JobSeeker, formerly known as Newstart, by $50 a fortnight in April.

But at the same time, the temporary Coronavirus supplement was scrapped, so most welfare payments actually fell by around $100 a fortnight, leaving recipients worse off.

“The ‘new’ rate of JobSeeker is so low that it hasn’t made a dent in affordability," said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

"There are even fewer affordable rentals now than there were on the old rate of Newstart."


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In April last year, Anglicare found 1,040 of the 69,960 homes surveyed were affordable for a single person on JobSeeker with the Coronavirus supplement.

Without the Coronavirus supplement, only nine homes would have been affordable then.

“Each year, we think the market couldn’t get any worse. And each year, we're shocked to see that it can," Ms Chambers said.

"That’s why we need to lift JobSeeker and other payments above the poverty line.

"If we don’t, people out of work will be pushed deeper into housing stress and even homelessness."

Read more: JobSeeker recipients spending up to 69% of their income on rent

The analysis used the common benchmark of spending no more than 30% of your gross (pre-tax) income on rent repayments for housing to be considered 'affordable'. 

Any more is considered to be in rental or mortgage stress

The situation was only slightly better for other income recipients.

For example, the report found there were 386 affordable rental properties for a single person on the Age Pension. 

"The most generous of government payments is the Age Pension. Yet for a couple living on the Age Pension, only 2% of rentals were affordable," Ms Chambers said.

"Single retirees have it even worse, with less than 1% of listings left to compete for."

Meanwhile, a single person on the Disability Support Pension would have to battle it out for just 236 affordable rentals.

Ms Chambers said one of the most concerning trends in this year's snapshot has been the fall in affordable rental properties for people earning the minimum wage.

“People who have kept their jobs are hardly better off. A person on the minimum wage can afford just 1% of rentals – less than half of what was available last year," she said. 

"The recovery is leaving too many people behind.”

Even families with two parents in full-time work would find themselves locked out of 85% of rentals surveyed in the snapshot.

Read more: What's in store for struggling renters in 2021?

Ms Chambers called on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to tackle the issue of housing affordability for low-income renters in the upcoming Budget.

“We need to invest in affordable housing. Our shortfall is massive. We need 500,000 new social and affordable rentals across Australia," she said.

“Investing in housing would be the most powerful way to tackle the rental crisis – and boost regional economies after a tough year.

“We’re calling on the government to take action in the next Budget – and make sure everyone has a place to call home."

Rents increasing in most capital cities 

From March 2020 to 2021, median house rents increased by 4% nationally to $471 per week, according to Domain's latest rental report. 

Units meanwhile are becoming more affordable, with the median rent plummeting 8.1%, although this was largely driven by Sydney and Melbourne. 

Units rents rose in every other capital city, except for Darwin where prices remained stagnant. 

Perth rental properties for example saw a 14.1% yearly increase in rental prices. 

Income support payments, such as JobSeeker and Rent Assistance (CRA) have not kept pace with recent increases


Photo by Finn Whelen on Unsplash

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Emma Duffy is Assistant Editor at Your Mortgage and  Your Investment Property Mag, which are part of the Savings Media Group. In this role, she manages a team of journalists and expert contributors committed to keeping readers informed about the latest home loan and finance news and trends, as well as providing in-depth property guides. She is also a finance journalist at Savings.com.au which she joined shortly after its launch in early 2019. Emma has a Bachelor in Journalism and has been published in several other publications and been featured on radio.

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