Sunshine Coast rental crisis brewing as prices skyrocket
RENT is becoming so expensive on the Sunshine Coast that many low-income renters have a poor quality of life.
That's according to Australia's first ever Rental Affordability Index, which was released today.
Jointly commissioned by SGS Economics and Planning, Community Sector Banking and National Shelter, the report ranked towns and cities around Australia.
It found the Sunshine Coast to be less affordable for low-income earners than the Queensland average for regional areas.
Eumundi and Noosa are the least affordable towns, with rental cost at an average 33% of household income.
Rental costs in Maroochydore, the Coast's most affordable suburb for renters according to the report, are only "moderately unaffordable".
Rental cost of greater than 30% of a person's income is widely understood to create housing stress, so this figure was not concerning for middle- and high-income earners.
However, low-income earners would struggle to cover living costs on top of rent, the authors say.
While low-income earners struggle to find affordable rental homes, the situation was worse in parts of Brisbane, where properties were "extremely unaffordable".
Nationally, low-income earners were required to pay 65% of their income on rent.
Noosa resident and National Shelter executive officer Adrian Pisarski said the Rental Affordability Index showed a worrying long-term trend.
"It shows what we have known anecdotally for far too long," he said. "Low-income households are being hammered beyond belief.
"Moderate-income working households are very hard up and have little disposable income.
"These households ... ultimately don't have disposable income to spend on key life items like health, transport, education and food."
If Coast residents wanted to avoid commuting and have a "reasonable lifestyle", where they could enjoy the perks of being by the beach, they were going to pay "a lot", he said.
Low-income earners who worked in the Coast's most popular towns - its cleaners and hospitality staff, for example - tended to live elsewhere and commute to work, he said.
Coast2Bay Housing Group CEO Andrew Elvin agreed housing affordability on the Sunshine Coast was an "acute" issue.
"Local data shows that median rents for two bedroom units stands at $340 a week in the Sunshine Coast and $360 in Noosa," he said.
"Three-bedroom houses are $420 and $430 and four-bedroom $500 and $550 respectively.
"These levels create housing stress not just for low-income households, but also for lower income families."
Mr Elvin said high rent was also constraining economic development on the Coast.
"Housing affordability is a key factor for attracting and sustaining a workforce in the region," he said.
He said studies had shown that in 1982 about 41% of people living on low incomes in the private rental market had faced "affordability issues", but by 2011 this had jumped to 72%. Low-income earners accounted for about 40% of renters.
"This trend continues and is a distinct feature on the Sunshine Coast, where private rental vacancies are now below 1%.
"This is creating severe economic hardship and placing families under enormous stress."
Mr Elvin joined National Shelter in calling for a review of the policy and taxation framework to focus more on ensuring affordable private rental housing.
Are Sunshine Coast rents getting too high?
This poll ended on 30 November 2015.
Yes. Things are getting out of hand.
No. With property prices rising investors need to make a return.
Supply and demand - if you want to live somewhere nice you have to pay for it.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Examples of low-income households include:
- A full-time dental nurse and part-time teacher aide ($1084 per week)
- A full-time electrical apprentice and a part-time aged care worker ($1072)
- A full-time hairdresser and part-time truck driver ($1113)