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Media Release: Brisbane Rental Affordability Improves, but Low-Income Groups and Individuals on Newstart are Suffering

Media Release: Brisbane Rental Affordability Improves, but Low-Income Groups and Individuals on Newstart are Suffering

While the cost of renting in many parts of Brisbane may have eased in the past 12 months, according to the latest release of the Rental Affordability Index (RAI), not everyone in Brisbane has cause to celebrate. Most postcodes in inner to middle Brisbane remain moderately unaffordable to unaffordable.

The latest release of the RAI found the average household seeking to rent in Greater Brisbane would spend 24 per cent of their total income on renting. This is below the level considered to trigger rental stress, which occurs when low-income households spend 30 per cent or more of their income on housing.

Single part-time working parents on benefits are paying 45 per cent of their income on new leases, whereas people on Newstart are forking a massive 98 per cent of their income on rentals in Brisbane.

Regional Queensland has a score of 123, which is less affordable than metropolitan Brisbane. The average rental household seeking a dwelling in regional Queensland faces rents costing 25 per cent of their total income

Rents remain unaffordable for lower income households in Brisbane, for example:

  • Single person on Newstart: 98 percent of income (extremely unaffordable)
  • Single pensioner on benefits: 64 per cent of income (extremely unaffordable)
  • Couple pensioner on benefits: 37 per cent of income (unaffordable)
  • Single part-time worker parent on benefits: 45 percent of income (severely unaffordable)
  • Full-time hospitality worker: 33 percent of income (unaffordable)

Affordability in regional Queensland has deceased over the past 12 months but has remained relatively steady since the first quarter of 2016.

The regions of Maroochydore, Caloundra, Coolum Beach and the Gold Coast, which are considered a part of regional Queensland in the RAI analysis, are generally moderately to severely unaffordable, even when applying Greater Brisbane incomes.

Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer, National Shelter, said: “There is not one place in Australia where a Newstart recipient can rent affordably.

“Newstart renters in metro Sydney require 4.5 times their current income to achieve affordability. The most affordable places we have are in regional SA and even there someone on Newstart needs to pay 47% of their income to rent.

“The RAI evidence is conclusive: all Newstart recipients who are renting are living in poverty. The situation is only marginally better for single and dual pensioners who also face unaffordable rents everywhere in Australia.

“The implications for retirement incomes policy are dire with more people retiring without owning and facing a completely unaffordable rental market. We know older women are the fastest growing cohort experiencing homelessness and we’d expect increased rates of homelessness among older people based on these findings,” Mr Pisarski said.

Ellen Witte, Partner at SGS Economics and Planning said: “People on Newstart are the most vulnerable cohort in the country as they experience the worst levels of housing stress. Required to pay 77 per cent of income or more on rent in cities, these households are pushed to the outer fringes with poor connections to jobs and education.

“After paying the rent there are not enough resources left, and people may not even be able to fork out money to go to a job interview. There is an urgent need to raise the Newstart allowance and provide these households a pathway out of the poverty trap.”


James Barron, Head of Relations at Community Sector Banking, said: “Looking beneath the headline figures, rental stress is affecting the majority of very low-income households in Australia.

“People on Newstart are being hit particularly hard. Even in cities with higher than average incomes and better than average rental affordability, the plight of low-income renters continues to deteriorate.”

Conny Lenneberg, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, said: “The evidence is utterly compelling: the deeply inadequate Newstart rate is a driver of homelessness. This is not the ‘fair-go’ society we cherish.”

“With high rents, single older job seekers and families with young children are in the eye of the affordable housing storm across the country. We are seeing increasing disparities, and the crisis end of this challenge is visible on our streets.”

Ms Lenneberg said there was also an urgent need to increase subsidised social housing. “Our social security safety net is letting down fellow citizens. There is an urgent need to raise Newstart and its very modest rental supplement and to increase subsidised social housing.”

The RAI is an indicator of the price of rents relative to household incomes based on new rental agreements. It is released annually by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, SGS Economics & Planning and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The higher the number of the index above 100, the more affordable rental housing is.

An index score below 100 indicates that a household would be required to spend at least 30 percent of their income on rent. For low income households, this could force them to forgo essentials including food, medicine and transport. A RAI of 100-120 shows that households are facing moderately unaffordable rents.

MEDIA: Andrew Blyberg on 0401 691 666 or [email protected]

 Interview opportunities are available with:

  • Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer of National Shelter
  • Ellen Witte, Partner at SGS Economics and Planning
  • James Barron, Head of Relations, Community Sector Banking
  • Conny Lenneberg, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence

 Link to interactive map:

About the Rental Affordability Index

National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, SGS Economics & Planning and the Brotherhood of St Laurence have released the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) biannually since 2015. The RAI is an easy to understand indicator of the price of rents relative to household incomes.


About National Shelter

National Shelter is a peak advocacy group whose mission is to create a “more just housing system, particularly for low-income Australian households”.

About SGS Economics & Planning

SGS Economics & Planning is a leading planning and economics firm whose purpose is to shape policy and investment decisions to achieve sustainable places, communities and economies.

 About Community Sector Banking

Community Sector Banking is the not-for-profit banking specialist for more than 17,000 organisations; it’s a joint venture between Bendigo Bank and the Community 21 consortium of not-for-profit organisations.

About Brotherhood of St Laurence
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a community organisation that works to prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia.


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