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Sunshine Coast rental stress rises as region deemed unaffordable

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If you're a moderate or low-income household you have been priced out of the rental market on the Sunshine Coast, according to a new report.

The latest release of the Rental Affordability Index reveals that there is currently no affordable rental housing on the Sunshine Coast for single pensioners, people on jobseeker, pensioner couples and single part-time working parents also on benefits.

The RAI is an indicator of the price of rents relative to household incomes based on new rental agreements.

Adrian Pisarski, executive officer at National Shelter says rental affordability is worse than before the pandemic, with COVID-19 taking a toll on renters and wiping out improvements made in previous years with rent rises and income losses.

“Essentially for the Sunshine Coast any household on an income under $80,000 is going to find it really difficult to rent anything,” he says

“That is the average rental household for regional Queensland.

It’s bad enough for people on average household incomes but when you think of that in terms of pensioners, people on sole parent benefit or other fixed income it’s diabolically bad.”

With much of the Sunshine Coast relying on tourism and hospitality, Mr Pisarski says there are few options left.

“A hospitality worker may be able to find a one-bedroom place around Bli Bli or Nambour but the rest of the Coast is unaffordable,” he says.

“Really you need to go to Gympie to find anything affordable.”

The sad news - it’s not going to get better anytime soon.

“I think we can anticipate that it will get worse,” Mr Pisarski says.

“When you think that immigration is about to restart in Australia.

“Queensland has already seen quite a lot of internal migration from other states that’s likely to ramp up once borders open again.”

Rent controls and a minimum 50 per cent rise in Commonwealth Rent Assistance for affected households need to be implemented, Mr Pisarski recommends.

“Australia needs a national housing plan, much more social and affordable housing, better tenancy laws, reforms of tax settings, new planning measures and the removal of incentives distorting our housing system,” Mr Pisarski says.

“That means the Federal Government needs to come to the party.”

A spokesperson for Federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar declined to answer questions relating to the housing crisis and directed questions be sent to the State Government.

Last month, the State Government released Expressions of Interest for the Queensland Housing Investment Growth Initiative.

The State Government is investing $2.9 billion, including $1 billion to establish a Housing Investment Fund, to support better long-term housing outcomes for vulnerable Queenslanders.

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Housing Minister Leanne Enoch says the release of the Housing Investment Fund EOI is just one component of the Queensland Housing Investment Growth Initiative, a coordinated capital investment program to increase the social housing portfolio by more than 7000 new homes over four years.

“The Queensland Housing Investment Growth Initiative is an important element of our Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021-2025 and is backed by $2.9 billion – the largest concentrated investment in social housing in Queensland’s history,” she says.

“We’re also providing QuickStart Grants to community housing providers to accelerate construction of 2765 social homes, while the Help to Home initiative will provide 1,000 additional private rental outcomes to support emergent housing needs over the next two years."

Ellen Witte, partner at SGS Economics & Planning, says the COVID-19 pandemic markedly impacted rental affordability across Australia.

“This report shows the most marked changes in rental affordability since we first released the RAI in 2015 – especially for JobSeeker recipients and renters in regional areas,” she says.

"The situation continues to be untenable for low-income households.

“With households having to pay most of their income on rent, many are pushed into poor quality, overcrowded houses and often far away from jobs and services.”

The RAI is released by National Shelter, SGS Economics & Planning, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Beyond Bank Australia.

 

Image: File, AAP/Jono Searle