Rental Affordability Snapshot Tasmania 2018

Michelle Wisbey 2018, Homelessness, Housing

Key findings

  • There were 1245 private rentals advertised in Tasmania on 24-25 March, 2018 – this is a 9 per cent drop since 2017 and a 38 per cent drop since 2014
  • In the North West there was a 45 per cent drop on advertised properties since 2017
  • In the South, there was a 10 per cent increase in advertised properties, but a significant drop in affordability
  • No affordable private rentals in Tasmania for people on Youth Allowance
  • A single adult earning a Newstart Allowance could only rent one affordable property in Tasmania
  • Half of the low income households measured could not rent a property in the South
  • A single parent with a child over eight earning a Newstart Allowance could rent 1 per cent of properties in Tasmania

Where do you live?

This simple question is the glue of our social connections and bureaucratic processes –from banking, to the welfare system, and enrolling children in school.

More intangibly, but no less importantly, this question also asks where you belong.  Home is a fundamental part of our identity.

Without a home, any person will struggle in aspects of their lives – from intimate things like preparing meals and attending to personal hygiene, through to externals like maintaining a job, spending time with family and friends, and contributing to the community.

For children, the lack of a home is even more profound.

Without the sense of security and settled identity that a home provides, their brain development and the formation of social and emotional wellbeing can be adversely affected.

Every day in which there are Tasmanians without a place to call home, we hurt our community and diminish our shared future.

In failing to effectively address our affordable housing challenge, we are holding our state back in tackling health issues, improving education and employment outcomes, and reducing crime.

Rental affordability, particularly in Hobart, has become dire.

On the weekend of 24-25 March this year, Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot found none of the advertised properties in the South were affordable for a range of low income Tasmanian individuals and families.

People on Youth Allowance, Newstart Allowance or single parents on Parenting Payments were completely locked out of the private rental market.

Even households earning a minimum wage had only a small, and diminishing, pool of rental homes that could be considered affordable.

Frontline services tell us there’s been an expansion in the range of people seeking assistance.

Many Tasmanians with a job, good references and a solid credit history are now unable to find a rental. They’re turning to services for help; services already pressed to find even temporary options for the most vulnerable.

Alarmingly, many people on low incomes are being pushed into rental stress to secure or keep a rental property, it is not unusual for Tasmanians on income support payments to be spending up to 75 per cent of their income on rent.

This is unsustainable and leaves them unable to afford other basics like food, utilities, transport and healthcare.

Anglicare services in the North and North West are seeing people referred from the South in search of affordable housing.

Increasingly, this is proving a false hope – the latest Snapshot recorded a significant drop in the number of properties advertised for rent in the North West.

For decades, we have had policy settings in place at state and federal levels that have led us to this point.

They include tax settings that have made housing a mechanism of wealth generation rather than a basic human right for all.

There’s been under-investment and neglect of public and social housing.  Income support payments have not kept pace with the cost of living.

Now we look to every level of government to do more.

It will require bold, long-term commitment and investment and is likely to go well beyond what is politically comfortable.

An enormous evidence base maps out clear ways forward. But governments will require a commitment to change and the willpower to stay the course.

It is incumbent on all of us to encourage action, and to hold decision-makers to account.

It’s time to be good neighbours to Tasmanians with nowhere to call home tonight.

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