Affordability and diversity a significant issue for Perth’s private rental sector

A new rental affordability study has highlighted the challenges very low and low income households face in Perth’s private rental sector.

The study, Housing Affordability (Rental) – A study for the Perth metropolitan area, looks at rental affordability for households on very low (less than $43,000), low ($43,000-$69,000) and moderate incomes ($69,000-$103,000), and is the result of a second collaboration between the Housing Authority, Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) and Shelter WA.

The report found:

  • There is insufficient affordable rental options in Perth’s private rental sector, which is placing pressure on the region’s social housing system.
  • 35 per cent of Perth rental households fall into the lower income categories, however only 19 per cent of rentals in Perth in the 2015-16 financial year were affordable to very low or low income earners.
  • Perth’s rental stock lacks diversity, with over 70 per cent of all rentals across the metropolitan area have three bedrooms or more.
  • The central sub-region contains the bulk of affordable rental housing in Perth. It provides 65 per cent of affordable housing for very low income earners and 49 per cent for low income earners.

REIWA President Hayden Groves said all sectors of the property market need to work together to increase the number of affordable rental properties. 

The Housing Authority’s General Manager Strategy and Policy Tania Loosley-Smith noted that although the Western Australian property market has been in a cyclical downswing for the past few years, there is still a significant shortage of housing that is affordable for Western Australians on low incomes. 

“By a range of measures, this shortage has entrenched over decades and deepened in the last 10 years. It affects our vulnerable citizens, as well as the key workers who are the backbone of our economy,” Ms Loosley-Smith said.

“The Housing Authority is committed to addressing these challenges in order to ensure Western Australian families, our local communities, and our economy thrive. That said, achieving these outcomes needs both Commonwealth and State leadership.”

Ms Loosley-Smith said she welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to establish a National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, and its focus on models to increase affordable rentals for people on low incomes. 

“Large scale market investment in our rental sector, particularly at the affordable end of the market, is the missing part of the Australian housing continuum and can only be tackled effectively at a national level. This, combined with ongoing funding for the social housing system under the National Affordable Housing Agreement and ongoing State efforts on housing supply and diversity is critical to ensuring that all Western Australians have a place to call home,” Ms Loosley-Smith said.

At the state level, the Housing Authority in late 2016 launched the Assisted Rental Pathways Pilot. According to Ms Loosley-Smith, this innovative initiative provides opportunities for social housing applicants—with the desire and means—to move successfully into the private rental market.

“This Pilot is a unique partnership between the government, not-for-profit support providers and participants. It offers rent subsidies and individually tailored support services for up to four years to help people succeed in the private rental market. The project offers benefits for both participants and landlords, and is important in addressing the key finding of the study—the lack of affordable rentals in Perth, despite a high overall rental vacancy rate.”

Mr Groves said housing affordability was a critical issue for West Australians and the report emphasised the glaring need for a greater emphasis on the provision for affordable, accessible and appropriate housing options.

“It is clear that the current stock of private rental accommodation does not meet the needs of our community and more needs to be done to address the requirement for choice and housing diversity. The planning system needs to mandate and address housing diversity within the WA planning system,” Mr Groves said.

Shelter WA spokesperson Stephen Hall said the research highlighted the lack of accessible and affordable private rental accommodation in Perth for very low and low income households, with only a small number of three or more bedroom properties available to these income brackets.

“This research shows that only a small number of three or more bedroom properties are affordable for lower income families. Shelter WA is concerned that families, especially large families, could be forced to reside in inappropriate and unaffordable housing.”

“It is also concerning that households, on very low incomes, including those on disability and aged pensions, are confronted with so few rental options in the Perth metro area. Seniors and those living with a disability, often already have difficulties in their lives, which can be exacerbated by unaffordable and insecure housing.”

“Improving inefficiencies in the planning system, replacing stamp duty with a progressive land tax, and ensuring social and affordable housing is provided in and around new developments such as Metronet, can improve the availability of affordable accommodation for Perth households,” Mr Hall said.

The Housing Affordability (Rental) – A study for the Perth metropolitan area is a follow up to a study released last November which focused on the impact of housing affordability on home ownership.

ENDS

CONTACT

Hayden Groves        REIWA President                    m 0411 615 582  p 9336 1166

Samantha Jones      REIWA Media                         m 0417 946 917 e media@reiwa.com.au

Stephen Hall             Shelter WA spokesperson      m 0408 426 263 p 9325 6660

Ben Jones                 Housing Authority Media        p 6552 4222 e media.liason@housing.wa.gov.au