New report reveals extent of local rental affordability crisis

That the local rental market is tighter than a bee’s proverbial isn’t exactly a startling revelation.

But a new report shows that the North Coast is the least affordable in regional NSW when average weekly incomes are taken into account, leading to soaring levels of housing stress.

The Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, released this week by Compass Housing, found that Byron, Ballina and Tweed make up three of the four least affordable local government areas in the state when it comes to renting.

The report takes a new approach to the measurement of rental affordability, establishing the amount of additional income a typical renting household needs to avoid housing stress on various types of dwellings.

Byron Shire tops the list, with households needing 48 per cent of the median income to afford the median rent.

The median weekly income earned by households in the Shire is $1,218 but the median rent is $590 per week – $60 per week more than the Sydney median of $530.

With housing stress kicking in when rents reach 30 per cent of income, Byron households need an extra $749 a week in their pay packets to avoid housing stress.

The five local government areas on the North Coast fill the top six positions on the list, with only the South Coast LGA of Shoalhaven coming in at number five, above Coffs Harbour.

Compass Housing spokesperson Martin Kennedy said the findings demonstrated that it wasn’t just those on the bottom rung of the income ladder who were affected.

‘Working people are struggling to afford suitable rental properties,’ Mr Kennedy said.

‘This can have a real impact on living standards because people in housing stress are less able to pay for other essentials like food, utilities, insurance, healthcare, childcare, and debt repayments.’

The report recommends a series of initiatives to be introduced across the country, including the construction of 500,000 social and affordable housing dwellings in the next 10 years, reviewing the tax system to provide more equal support for investors, first home buyers and renters, and changing tenancy laws so that renters have greater security of tenure.

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