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Productivity Commission shows need for security of tenure and more social housing

Today’s report released by the Productivity Commission: Housing Decisions of Older Australians shows the need for stronger security of tenure in the private rental market, and to expand social housing, says the Victorian Council of Social Service.

The state government can respond to the report by investing in a social housing growth fund to provide affordable homes for vulnerable older Victorians, and by using its review of the Residential Tenancies Act to strengthen security of tenure for older renters in the private market.

“The Productivity Commission confirms that older renters are exposed to unaffordable rents and experience insecurity of tenure in the private rental market” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS.

“The report documents an alarming rise in housing stress among older renters, rising from around one quarter of older renters in 2000-01, to nearly half by 2012-13.”

“In 2012-13, single people aged over 65 renting in the private market spent 42 per cent of their income on housing – three times higher than average.

“Over the same period, there has been a dramatic decline in the proportion of older people finding homes in social housing, falling from more 50 per cent in 2001-02 to around one third by 2012-13. The Productivity Commission states that ‘the stock of social housing is insufficient to address growing demand’.”

“VCOSS has called on the Victorian government to develop an Affordable Housing Strategy to address our housing affordability crisis, including a social housing growth fund to expand public and community housing to meet current and future demand, as outlined in our State Budget Submission 2016-17 launched yesterday.”

“The Productivity Commission report also states that older renters are likely to be affected by the insecurity of tenure inherent in renting, which can result in:

  • detrimental effects on mental health and wellbeing
  • increased risk of poverty and homelessness
  • fewer options when requiring a transition to an aged care facility.

VCOSS welcomes the Victorian government’s current review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, and believes the government can use the process to strengthen security of tenure in private rental properties, giving more certainty and stability for older tenants.