Senate Inquiry Submission: Worsening rental crisis in Australia
This submission was prepared as a response to the Senate Inquiry into the worsening rental crisis in Australia.
The submission highlights two major concerns with rental affordability in Australia; a lack of supply of affordable rental housing and rising rents driving unsustainable living costs for many Australians, most particularly households on lower incomes; and the nature of housing supply in Australia and the way the housing market is driven and regulated.
- Create a national housing framework that makes it clear that the priority and intent of housing policy is to ensure safe, secure and affordable shelter for all Australians – putting utility, stability and wellbeing ahead of wealth building.
- Increase the supply of social housing and consider direct government investment in delivering low-income affordable rentals (such as essential worker housing) at scale to support regional development and address skill shortages
- Introduce nationally consistent legislation to better regulate, oversight and enforce tenant’s rights at the National and State levels, including:
- An end to no cause terminations, including at the end of a fixed term.
- Reforms to stabilise rent prices including by setting clear limits for rent prices and increases.
- Minimum energy efficiency standards for rental homes.
- Enhanced frameworks to support compliance and introduce accountability for non-compliance with existing laws.
- Commit to a target of zero children evicted to homelessness from public and social housing.
- Concerted action to ensure rental properties adhere to minimum condition standards to reduce exposure to damp and mould, including options for health services to report harmful residences.
- Measures to encourage more effective use of existing housing such as a vacant residential property charge, state taxes or increased rates levied on short-term holiday accommodation, particularly in areas where there is a shortage of affordable rental properties.
- Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance and introduce ongoing indexation pegged to a proportion of median rental costs.
- Implement a nationally consistent approach to inclusionary zoning that requires a proportion of social and affordable housing in new developments.
- Develop a long-term national Build to Rent scheme to replace NRAS that is designed to deliver a steady supply of subsidised low-income affordable rental properties at scale.
- Negotiate a nationally consistent approach to regulating rent increases including a limitation of one annual rent increase and appropriate indexation.
The Senate’s final report was released in December 2023.