The Australian private rental market has been deemed inaccessible, unaffordable and insecure for Australians who would otherwise wish to become renters.
Research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) – courtesy of researchers from a number of Australian universities – has led to the consideration of the nation’s social housing system as a “destination” as opposed to a pathway to other forms of housing.
The University of Tasmania’s Dr Kathleen Flanagan said “many of the tenants we interviewed did not feel they had any option but to stay in social housing, considering themselves unable, financially and otherwise, to negotiate the private rental market”.
Even when suitable persons want to move away from social housing, the researcher said that “in practical terms, for many tenants there are no feasible pathways out of social housing to another form of housing”.
“Instead, the social housing system is seen as a destination,” she said.
Most tenants interviewed for the research indicated they had experienced significant housing instability and insecurity prior to accessing social housing.
Experiences included homelessness, domestic and family violence, inadequate and unhealthy housing, significant financial stress, and high levels of household mobility.
It led to Dr Flanagan to call for “private rental housing that is affordable and secure that tenants can move into”.
She also said that “if policies to encourage or enforce transitions out of social housing and into the private rental market are to be promoted, then housing providers should make sure adequate support is available at all stages of the process: before, during and after a move is made”.
If this does not occur, any government policies to move people through and out of social housing won’t be effective “unless there are strong improvements to security of tenure and affordability for these tenants as they move into the private rental market”, Dr Flanagan continued.