Secure occupancy in rental housing: conceptual foundations and comparative perspectives

AHURI Final Report No. 170
Low income housing Rental housing Australia Belgium Canada Germany Ireland Netherlands Scotland United States of America

This report is concerned with the nature of housing occupancy for households that rent, particularly low-income and vulnerable households. It describes and compares provisions for secure occupancy across a variety of rental systems in Australia and similarly developed countries, and attempts to interpret to what extent such provisions are adequate and appropriate to the needs of households, especially those who rely on renting for significant periods (or all) of their lives.

To inform and broaden consideration of this current policy issue in Australia, the study’s methodology has been designed to enable an assessment of the means by, and the extent to which, secure occupancy in rental housing is provided in a crosssection of local and international jurisdictions. The primary aims of the study are to explore how different types of rental systems shape the nature of occupancy, and to generate new ways of thinking about secure occupancy and policy settings to help promote this in Australia. To facilitate the study's comparative approach, the Australian authors have worked in close collaboration with a group of international housing research colleagues (named in Table 4) with expertise in one or more of the eight national and provincial jurisdictions that have been selected for comparison. These are: 1. Austria

2. New Jersey (US)

3. Flanders (Belgium)

4. Ontario (Canada)

5. Germany

6. Scotland

7. Ireland

8. The Netherlands

As the rental systems of these countries differ considerably, they provide a rich laboratory for exploring ways that secure occupancy is shaped by multiple factors, including historical conditions, market functioning, cultural influences and institutional settings, and generate a variety of challenging ideas about how rental systems might best support the housing needs of their residents, while also encouraging appropriate and secure levels of rental investment. A concise summary of the rental system and policies of each of these case studies can be found in Appendix 1. These summaries are provided to complement the thematic analysis that is adopted in the body of the report. The international case studies were augmented by local research on the current framework for secure occupancy in Australia, as well as by a more in-depth review of the situation in two jurisdictions (New South Wales and Victoria), which was conducted by the authors.

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