Once considered a short-term housing option primarily for young adults, the private rental housing sector now accommodates 27 per cent of all households in Australia, with residents renting for much longer periods than in previous decades.
With diverse housing types covering a geographical range from urban to rural, the private rental sector can work well for the 6.3 million renters who can afford it. But for the 2.65 million Australians that qualify as low income renters, housing insecurity is a significant and growing problem.
As part of a complex housing continuum, private rental housing in Australia has changed significantly over recent decades, affected by steep increases in property values due to domestic and global policy trends.
As a demographic, older Australians hold more housing wealth than younger people, but home ownership in retirement is in decline. Australians face mortgage rates 600% higher than 30 years ago, and factors ranging from unaffordability to family breakdown are increasingly driving people into the private rental sector, particularly older single women. The surge in demand for affordable housing means one third of Australians now live in private rental accommodation, equalling rates of home ownership.
This policy brief explores and proposes new and innovative pathways for housing, including private rental housing.