Rental affordability hits crisis point

Older Australians are finding it harder than ever to secure rental properties, according to an alarming new report. Anglicare Australia has released its 2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot, and it paints a worrying picture for older Aussies looking to rent.

In a survey that took in more than 45,000 listings, only 0.2 per cent were found to be affordable for a single person on the Age Pension. That’s a record low, according to Anglicare.

The story for couples on the Age Pension was barely any better, with just 1 per cent of listings deemed affordable. In 2019, that figure was 3.2 per cent, which even then would have been viewed by many as concerning.

Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers said older Australians had been let down by the market and she called for more social housing.

“Older people have been failed by the rental market,” Ms Chambers said. “We’ve been releasing this snapshot for 15 years and [0.2 per cent affordability] is the worst result we’ve ever seen. Couples are barely better off.”

Ms Chambers said it was time for governments to act on recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

“It’s no wonder the aged care royal commission called for action on housing stress and homelessness,” she said. “Older people are being locked out of housing right when they need security the most. This makes it harder to get care at home, and it makes it harder for renters to age at home.”

Ms Chambers said the rental affordability situation was doubly frustrating because there was a clear solution. 

“We know why this is happening, and we know how to fix it,” she said. “Every year, Australia’s social housing shortfall gets worse and worse. We have a shortfall of over 640,000 social homes. Many older people depend on these homes.”

Rental affordability solutions

Victorian-based aged care provider Benetas has pledged to take immediate action because it is already seeing the effects of the crisis.

“We see first-hand the impact of the lack of affordable rental options for older Victorians,” Benetas CEO Sandra Hills said. “As the ageing population increases, and the aged care system struggles to cope with demand, older Victorians are increasingly being encouraged to stay at home longer.”

Ms Hills said the need for accommodation that could meet physical challenges such as mobility and accessibility complicated matters further. Benetas believes its new initiative will help to address this stumbling block, at least in one part of Victoria.

“Benetas will be refurbishing its existing, ageing independent living units to support those in the Bendigo area,” said Ms Hills. “The existing units, built around 1960, will be converted into 38 two-bedroom units to be used as affordable housing for people aged 55 and older.”

Ms Hills said disadvantaged women would be given the first option on the new units, and she expected the first residents to move in by the end of 2024. She said women would be given priority because they were increasingly at risk.

“Older single women – the fastest-growing cohort of homeless Australians – will be prioritised during this process.” 

Not just private

While recognising the efforts of private sector initiatives such as that of Benetas, Ms Hills said government intervention was crucial. “We can’t outsource all of our housing needs to the private market. And we can’t expect individual landlords to solve a national rental crisis for people who are the most vulnerable,” she said.

“The federal government must step in and fund more social housing for people who need it the most. If the government is serious about helping Australians age well, it will start funding these homes in the next budget.

“Without action, older people will simply be left to the mercy of the market.”

The full Rental Affordability report is available here

Have you been looking for an affordable rental property but keep hitting a brick wall? How hard have you found it to find an affordable home? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Centrelink Q&A: How would shared housing affect the Age Pension?

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Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


    • Rental crisis created over decades state and federal governments with no set social housing build policy relying on mum and dad investors to feed in rental properties. Massive tax incentives to wealthy investors. Albanese inherited a mess!


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