Suburbs in extreme rental crisis

Jan 2024Karen Millers

New data has revealed almost half of all Australian suburbs are in extreme rental pain, according to property research group Suburbtrends.

The “Rental Pain Index” for January 2024 paints a stark picture for renters nationwide, with Geelong suburbs Newcomb and Norlane identified as having some of the most severe affordability challenges, placing them among the top 20 worst suburbs for renters.

This follows SGS Economics data from November 2023, which found that rental properties on the Surf Coast are some of the most expensive in regional Victoria.

Suburbtrends founder Kent Lardner said the January report showed an unprecedented level of rental stress.

“The data calls for urgent, multifaceted policy solutions.”

In response to the crisis, the National Cabinet in August 2023 agreed to a new target to build 1.2 million new homes over the next five years, starting from July 1, 2024, which is 200,000 more than the previous year’s National Housing Accord target.

Efforts to harmonise and strengthen renters’ rights across Australia were also agreed upon, including limiting rental increases to once a year and introducing minimum rental standards.

Bellarine MP Alison Marchant said there was no bigger issue than housing.

“We’ve set a bold target to build 800,000 new homes over the next 10 years — and we’re reforming the planning system including scrapping planning permits for granny flats and rapidly accelerating the rollout of social and affordable homes across Victoria.”

The Senate Inquiry into the rental crisis, which concluded in December, has sparked debate.

Property Investment Professionals of Australia chair Nicola McDougall said the inquiry was a waste of taxpayer money.

“The inquiry was not only a waste of taxpayers’ money but was a huge waste of time and resources for the hundreds of individuals and organisations, such as PIPA, who produced submissions or spoke at the four public hearings.”

However, lawyer and tenant advocate Jordan van den Berg said this description was misguided.

“There were quite a few solutions that came out of it; in my opinion, the only waste of taxpayer money is paying the salaries of politicians that won’t implement those solutions.

“The report called for a bunch of really good things, including data gathering on Airbnb and how that is affecting the rental market, rent freezes, rent caps, increased renters’ rights, and general protection for renters and action on the housing crisis.”

Originally Published: Angus Smith | Geelong Times, Geelong | Page 19

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