Rental affordability in focus
Although affordability has improved in Perth’s rental market for tenants over the past three years, with the median weekly rent price falling by $90 to $360 a week since the March quarter of 2014, the cost of living remains a significant issue for many people in Perth’s private rental sector.
The Housing Authority, in collaboration with REIWA and Shelter WA, released a rental affordability study recently which highlighted the challenges low-income and very low income households are facing in the State capital’s rental market.
The study, Housing Affordability (Rental) — A Study for the Perth Metropolitan Area, looked at rental affordability for households on very low (less than $43,000), low ($43,000-$69,000) and moderate incomes ($69,000-$103,000), and found there were insufficient affordable rental options in Perth’s private rental sector. It also found the lack of options for this income bracket was placing pressure on the region’s social housing system, and that while 35 per cent of Perth rental households fell into the lower income brackets, only 19 per cent of rentals in Perth actually catered to tenants earning very low or low incomes.
Anaemic wages growth and underemployment have not helped the situation despite recent falls in rental values.
Rental affordability is an important issue for our State and the report highlights the need for a greater emphasis on affordable, accessible and appropriate housing options.
The study also revealed the lack of diversity available in Perth’s rental stock, with more than 70 per cent of all rentals in the metropolitan area being larger homes with three or more bedrooms, therefore commanding a higher rent.
Additionally, it revealed the central sub-region contained the bulk of affordable housing in Perth, providing 65 per cent of affordable housing for very low-income earners and 49 per cent for low-income earners.
Clearly there is a disparity in our private rental system which needs to be addressed.
The current stock of rental accommodation in Perth does not meet the needs of our community and more needs to be done to address the requirement for choice and housing diversity in this State. The priority of the McGowan Government to deliver and implement Metronet and its hubs will be an important aspect of addressing some of the challenges we face in providing more diverse housing options to our community, but Metronet is not the panacea entirely.
We need to make sure housing options are addressed across the whole spectrum, from public and social housing, through to affordable homeownership, private rental and private home ownership. Specifically, these issues need to be addressed within the WA planning system alongside federal taxation settings to ensure all West Australians have access to affordable and appropriate housing.