Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tenants at the Census

This week the ABS released the first data from the 2011 Census.

Before anything else, let's welcome the 42 392 new households who joined the New South Wales rental housing sector since the 2006 Census. These new renters bring the total number of rented private dwellings (this includes social housing) to 743 050 - that's 30.1 per cent of all private dwellings. This is a growing proportion too – it's up from 28.4 per cent in 2006.

From all of us here at the Brown Couch and at the Tenants' Union of NSW, we hope you have a good time of it; we're working to make it better. If you have any questions, please ask your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service; they know all there is to know about renting in New South Wales.

The welcome here is, unfortunately, a lot warmer than the one these renters got moving into rental housing: at the 2011 Census, the median rent for New South Wales was $300 per week – which represents a 43 per cent increase on the median rent five years previously. Amongst New South Wales renters, 11.6 per centover 86 000 households – were paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent.

More news from the Census:
  •  The 2011 Census counted about 7.8 million households in Australia – which is 900 000 fewer than the estimate used by the National Housing Supply Council when it calculated the nation's 'housing shortage' of 228 000 dwellings. As we discussed yesterday, the assumption that households would keep forming and demanding housing, without regard to prices and incomes, on the 2001-2006 pattern, was always very iffy. The NHSC concedes that there's a 'gigantic' difference in the numbers and will have another look.
  • The 2011 Census also counted houses without households... and found 934 471 unoccupied dwellings. That's 10.7 per cent of the nation's housing stock. (This spare housing stock is in addition to the 8 million spare bedrooms we found for the Queensland Housing Minister the other day.) It is true that not all of these unoccupied houses can be considered as potential additional housing – some of them would be awaiting demolition, or awaiting a household that has already determined to move in – but if only a fraction of them really represent stock held in reserve, that's even more potential supply to set against weakening demand.
We'll get back to the real housing supply problem – the lack of rental housing that is affordable to people on low-moderate incomes – in our next post.

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