Australia currently sees one third of its population in the rental market – and this statistic is much higher in our capital cities and amongst younger Australians. Out of this, 40% of overall renters are considered ‘long-term’, holding this status for at least 10 years.
A recent survey of 600 Australians and detailed interviews with 60 long-term renters in Sydney and Melbourne found long-term renters expressed regret about not being a home owner – with a mix of Australian cultural (‘Great Aussie Dream’) reasons and logistical reasons.
So why is renting in Australia seen as the last resort and something to be done in the short term only? Why does it seem to be the antithesis of the ‘Great Aussie Dream’?
Why is renting seen as a second-rate option?
Renting in Australia is largely seen as insecure and short term. This is due to a combination of factors, including Australia’s weak tenancy laws and the fact that most rental homes are owned by individual investors. Renters face a range of potentially destabilising impacts including:
- Tenure is usually short-term
- The tenant has very few rights with respect to the aesthetics of the property, inside or out
- Under most tenancy contracts the landlord has the power to evict the tenant on 60 days’ notice, without cause.
Security of tenancy is compromised for these families and individuals. When people are unable to access an appropriate housing choice, or live in continual fear of an imminent eviction without cause, or when rent consumes too much of a household income – that is housing stress. Housing stress takes an enormous toll on our cities, communities and ourselves.
The ‘mindset shift’ that needs to happen
In remaining fixated on home ownership, are we holding our gaze on an unattainable goal?
We need to shift the conversation to be about a person having access to housing and the ability to make choice in terms of that housing to suit their needs at that stage of life.
A person needs to be provided with the stability that enables them to make the house they are living in their home. Even if they don’t own it.
A strong enabler for security and better conditions of tenure could be to restructure market rental provision through tax concessions and other measures that entice institutional investors to build properties and hold them over the long term for rental – this is known as ‘Build to Rent’ housing (BTR).
A Fixed Abode proposes a shift in conversation about Australia’s rental market and suggests how investment and Government support can bring stability to the rental experience.
This extract is from PwC’s report: A fixed abode: How Build to Rent can improve our private rental market. For more go to http://pwc.to/2vLLgZJ.