Rental stress grips over two-thirds of Aussie renters – InfoChoice

Comparison website advocates government action

Rental stress grips over two-thirds of Aussie renters – InfoChoice


By Mina Martin

A recent survey by comparison website InfoChoice has unveiled the extent of rental stress among Australian renters, with more than 70% spending more than 30% of their gross income on rent, classifying them in rental stress, and with an overwhelming majority wanting the government to take action.

The InfoChoice Rent Crisis survey, involving more than 1,000 renters, highlights a missed opportunity for the federal government to address soaring rents, leaving renters struggling amidst rising living costs.

Harrison Astbury (pictured above), InfoChoice Money Analyst, said that the surge in rents presents a significant challenge for the federal government and should have been a focal point during the recent emergency cost-of-living caucus held last week.

“Renters have faced a tough time over the past 12 months due to a perfect storm of rising rents and high inflation which has also forced up costs in other areas of their household budgets,” Astbury said.

“With almost one-third of Australians renting their home, high rents are a major social and political issue which will need to be dealt with if the government is to regain credibility on the cost-of-living crisis.”

Who’s responsible for the rental situation?

Survey findings showed that respondents predominantly attributed the rental situation to the federal government (37.2%), followed by landlords (32.4%) and the Reserve Bank (24%). An overwhelming majority (96.2%) expressed the belief that the government should take more significant actions to assist renters.

Preferred federal government responses

Concerning potential government responses, the most favored option was increased public housing (25.8%), followed by more financial incentives to build new homes (23.8%), and reduce immigration (19.1%). Additionally, over 16% advocated for a ban on Airbnb rentals.

Tenant coping strategies

The survey highlighted that a majority of renters had already taken measures to cut non-rent expenses, while a minority had implemented more drastic changes such as relocating to a smaller residence, acquiring a housemate, or returning to live with their parents.

Renters face double the stress of homeowners

Rental stress exhibited the highest rates in Tasmania (76.8%), Queensland (73.3%), and NSW (71.6%), with the lowest rates recorded in the NT (47.8%), ACT (63.9%), and SA (67.2%).

Astbury said the survey indicated that renters are facing stress at more than double the rate reported for homeowners experiencing mortgage stress.

“We rightly hear about the impact of high interest rates on mortgage borrowers but the elephant in the room is the flow through to higher rents for people who can least afford it,” Astbury said. “As well as damaging their standard of living, high rents are reducing the ability of renters to save for a home deposit and get their foot on the property ladder, so it really is a rental trap.”

Pessimism on affordability

As per the survey findings, fewer than half (41.6%) of renters across the nation believed they would be in a position to afford a home within the next five years, and more than 37% held the belief that homeownership would never be attainable for them.

In Tasmania, a significant proportion of renters (49.3%) expressed a pessimistic view, stating they will never be able to afford a home. Similarly, renters in QLD (46.7%) and SA (41%) share a similar outlook.

Other findings

Nearly half of all surveyed renters (48.9%) indicated that the rental market would influence their voting decisions in future elections. Meanwhile, approximately one quarter (24.9%) of all renters feel their landlords have treated them unfairly regarding rent matters, the InfoChoice survey revealed.

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