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Howard Government fails low income home renters

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Howard Government fails low income home renters

October 2007

The Howard Government’s failure to put downward pressure on interest rates is putting more and more pressure on vulnerable Victorians trying to find a home to rent, the VIC Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said.

Releasing the Office of Housing Victorian June Quarter Rental report, Mr Wynne said the Howard Government’s failure to keep down the costs of home ownership was spilling over into the rental market.

“In Victoria, like all States across Australia, people on low incomes are finding it harder and harder to find affordable accommodation,” Mr Wynne said.

“The Brumby Government is doing its bit, spending an extra $500 million over four years to build more affordable homes.

“But the Howard Government has cut funding to public housing and has failed to do anything to make it easier for low-income families in private rental. These figures are a result of 11 years of the Howard Government neglecting low-income renters across Australia and refusing to put in place a national housing strategy.”

The latest quarterly statistics show Melbourne’s median rents have risen in the last year to June by 6.2 per cent above inflation, the highest annual increase since March 1998. And in regional Victoria, they have risen in the last year by 3.5 per cent above inflation.

“Interest rates are rising and the cost of renting a home continues to increase but the Howard Government continues to sit on its hands,” Mr Wynne said.

Mr Wynne said that the Federal Government’s Rent Assistance scheme was not keeping pace within the increasing cost of renting.

“Even after Rent Assistance, over one-quarter of all recipients are still in housing stress – spending over 30 per cent of their income on rent,” Mr Wynne said.

“Only 27.5 per cent of new lettings in the quarter were affordable to people on low-incomes, the lowest rate in eight years.”

Quarter on quarter, median rent in metropolitan Melbourne remained steady at $260 per week and median rents across country Victoria increased by just under three per cent, from $185 per week in the March quarter to $190 in the June quarter.

While still historically low, the vacancy rate rose slightly to 1.4 per cent across Melbourne, up from 1.2 per cent for the March quarter.

Victoria’s most affordable houses continue to be in the Latrobe Valley, Corio and Horsham while the most affordable flats are found in the Latrobe Valley, Horsham and Sale-Maffra. The most expensive homes are in Toorak, South Melbourne and Carlton-Parkville, while the most expensive flats are in Southbank-Docklands, Port Melbourne and CBD-St Kilda Road.

The Rental Report is produced for the Government each quarter by the Victorian Office of Housing and is based on data from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority.

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