Rental affordability worst ever seen for minimum wage earners, Anglicare says

In annual snapshot less than 1% of listings were affordable for renters earning minimum wage and only four rooms in share houses for those on jobseeker

Less than 1% of private rental properties in Australia are affordable for full-time workers earning the minimum wage, while people on Centrelink payments are struggling to afford rooms in share houses, Anglicare Australia says.

Anglicare’s annual rental affordability snapshot, released on Thursday, found there were only 45,895 listings across the country, the lowest in the 14 years Anglicare has prepared the report. Between 2018 and 2021 the number of available rentals listed was consistently above 65,000.

The snapshot looks at data from rental listings over a single weekend and assesses whether the properties would be affordable for different households, including single people on minimum wage or the jobseeker payment. The report defines affordable rent as being no more than 30% of a household budget.

None of the listings analysed were affordable for a person on youth allowance and only four rooms in share houses were affordable for a person on jobseeker.

Sixty-six rentals – or 0.1% of the listings analysed – were affordable for a person on the disability support pension and 162 rentals (0.4%) were affordable for a person on the age pension.

This year’s snapshot was the worst result for renters earning the minimum wage, with just 345 rentals (0.8%) considered affordable, down from 720 (1.6%) last year.

The executive director at Anglicare Australia, Kasy Chambers, said the drop in affordability was shocking.

“This year’s result is the worst we have ever seen for a person on the minimum wage, with affordability halving over the last year,” Chambers said.

“We’ve never seen large numbers that are affordable for people on the lowest of the Centrelink payments, but we usually see a few share houses for someone on youth allowance, so the affordability has really dropped,” Chambers said.

She said while it was no surprise affordability was exceptionally low for people on Centrelink payments, it had become clear “the private market is failing people on low incomes”.

As an example, she said 16% of the listings this year were affordable for a two-person household on minimum wage, a proportion that has decreased over the past decade.

“Years ago we used to see that about a quarter of the rentals were affordable for that household type,” Chambers said. “We can see unaffordability is climbing the income levels.”

Even though Australia had built a record number of homes over the last 10 years, rents keep soaring, she said.

“Our social housing shortfall has now ballooned to 640,000 social homes across Australia. Ending this shortfall will help people in the most severe rental stress, and free up the cheapest rentals for everybody else.”

The housing crisis is deepening across the country’s capital cities. PropTrack’s March rental report shows the nation’s vacancy rate sat at 1.5%, while average capital city rents were up 13% year-on-year to $520 a week.

Nina, who did not want her real name used, is a 50-year-old woman on the disability pension.

The former chef lived in Melbourne for more than 20 years, but with rents creeping up, she moved more than two hours’ drive away from the city to find somewhere affordable.

“I could not find a property in the area I lived in,” Nina said.

After six months of searching by herself and with friends, she moved out of the city. Her disability pension is $1,100 a fortnight and 53% goes to renting an apartment in regional Victoria.

“I’m trying to start again in a new community where I know no one,” she said.

Nina said building more affordable homes was the long-term solution, but she also wanted to see restrictions on short-term rental websites like Airbnb.

“The housing is there, it’s just it’s so easy for people to have it as short-term rentals.”


Cait Kelly

The GuardianTramp

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