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This research investigates the Australian rental sector during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and considers priorities for governments; tenant experiences and reflections on the effectiveness of assistance and interventions; changing tenant aspirations; and the priorities for emerging responses.

The research highlights how ‘nimble’ the Australian policy community had been in response to COVID-19, and the success of many of their rapid interventions. The challenge is how to sustain assistance as Australia moves from the health emergency to maintaining (perhaps very long-term) assistance.

There is an enduring need for policy action and innovation focussed on the rental market through all stages of a major event such as a pandemic. This includes the period during which the impacts are less acute or visible, and this intervention is needed to provide support in the face of second order effects, including increased demand for housing.

In addition, there is a need for policies and strategies that build resilience in the rental market at all times. Key initiatives could include reform of tenancy legislation, the provision of a larger stock of affordable housing available through the social housing sector, and measures to sustain affordable entry into home ownership. There is scope also to consider ways in which affordable housing provision could be better integrated with national urban planning aspirations through the economic and housing market development of smaller regional cities.

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AHURI Final Report No.389