“Moving On” Rental survey sheds light on the rental market

Findings from a national survey of renters, landlords and property managers released today is the first of its kind looking at how private rental tenancies end and the effect of the pandemic.

Shelter SA, in partnership with the National Shelter network, developed the national ‘Moving On’ survey and found a range of concerning findings.

“More than one third of national renters (38 per cent) reported the COVID pandemic impacted their tenancy.”

“More than one third of national renters (38 per cent) reported the COVID pandemic impacted their tenancy, despite the protections put in place during COVID by the WA Government,” Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said. “The survey found unemployment and underemployment throughout the pandemic affected people’s ability to pay rent and, in some cases, landlords losing work and income and needing to move back into the property themselves.”

Existing Tenancies

“There was also an unusually large movement out of existing tenancies, with one in five survey respondents moving since the start of the emergency period,” Ms Mackenzie said. “Of these, 29 per cent moved to try and reduce their housing costs, and 23 per cent because the landlord requested it.”

The survey also looked at reasons for a tenancy ending and found 45 per cent of all tenancies were ended by landlords or property managers.

“The Moving On survey shows involuntary residential exits have more than doubled in just six years.”

“Almost half of all tenancies ending are at the request of the landlord, not the tenant. This shows the large degree of renter insecurity in the market. The Moving On survey shows involuntary residential exits have more than doubled in just six years,” Ms Mackenzie said.

The survey found the most common reason for a landlord ending a periodic agreement was ‘no reason given’ (50 per cent) followed by selling the property (36 per cent) and demolition of house (18 per cent).

Short Notice Period

“Compared with other states, WA has one of the shortest notice periods in place when it comes to evictions without grounds, with landlords being required to provide just 60 days’ notice. In other states, 90 days’ notice is required in NSW, SA, 120 days’ notice is required in Victoria, and 26 weeks is required in the ACT. In Tasmania no grounds evictions are not permitted.” Ms Mackenzie said.

The report notes financial and psychological stress is associated with the logistics of relocation and moving on from a rental contract, leaving more vulnerable households in precarious situations.

The survey also found less than half of all tenants (47 per cent) received a full bond refund. One in ten had to pay the whole bond to the landlord.

Other findings included 20 per cent of tenants surveyed had to participate in rental bidding, and nationally, two thirds of tenancies were on a short-term basis (less than two years).

Recommendations

The report makes a number of recommendations to the commonwealth and state governments including improved legislation to remove no cause evictions and better rules on the return of residential bonds that are claimed by landlords.

“With more Australians renting privately, and renting for longer periods of time, the findings of this survey are a wake-up call.

“Tenancy reform is one of twelve priorities identified by the Unlock Housing coalition of over thirty homelessness services and housing providers. It was raised at the Emergency Roundtable we co-hosted last week on the rental crisis. This report only strengthens the case for an urgent review of the Residential Tenancies Act, as well as the obvious need for a boost to affordable rental supply,” Ms Mackenzie concluded.

About the Survey

The Moving On survey opened on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 and the data for this report closed on Thursday, 4 February 2021. The survey remains open and will report annually. The survey is available here.

Advice and Support

Where can Tenants get advice and support?

  • Department of Consumer Protection – evictions and tenancy advice. 1300 30 40 54.
  • Circle Green Community Legal – for tenancy advice. (08) 6148 3636.
  • Financial Counsellors’ Association of WA – for financial counselling. (08) 9325 1617.

Fast Facts

    • About one third (30.2 per cent) of Australians are renters, with people renting for longer periods than ever before, and increasingly living in insecure tenure of poor quality.
    • The WA rental vacancy rate is at a 40-year low.
    • The WA rental market is unaffordable for low-income households with over 50% of WA’s renters on low incomes in rental stress.
    • Rents are predicted to surge by 20 per cent in response to the moratorium on evictions and rent increases ending.
    • There is a shortfall of 39,200 social and 19,300 affordable homes across WA.

Media Contact

Chantal Caruso | 0447 201 377 / (08) 9325 6660 | projects@shelterwa.org.au