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Canberra Today 12°/13° | Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Competitive rentals keep tenants out of the market

VACANCY rates throughout the ACT have fallen below one per cent driving up rental prices, a not-for-profit real estate organisation has announced.

HomeGround Real Estate Canberra, a philanthropic agency offering property management services for rental homes, is calling on landlords to ease the squeeze for the sake of jobs and the territory’s economy. 

A looming housing affordability crisis is putting a vacuum of essential workers that last year had relocated to Canberra at grave risk after an influx of jobs remained open following the limited impact from COVID-19 in the nation’s capital.

It comes weeks after the Productivity Commission released data for its 2021 report focused on Australian government services that proves ACT residents spend the highest proportion of their incomes on rent nationally and also in three out of four socio-economic groups. 

The ACT government has made “growing and renewing” more public housing a priority in its 2020-21 budget announcement that was delayed until February this year from the peak of the pandemic.

The delay in taxpayer funding has also forced HomeGround Real Estate Canberra business development manager, Maria Edwards, to speak out before things become dire.

Compounded with household income remaining subdued while stimulus payments from the pandemic winding down, Australia’s already most expensive city to rent a home has set up the “perfect storm” to affect rental affordability further.

“We have market rentals, where 30-plus people might show up and offer more rent than advertised, just to secure the house, which can be great for landlords but on the other side, we have more and more people priced out of the rental market and needing affordable rental homes,” Ms Edwards said. 

“In the midst of the pandemic, Canberra relied on essential workers like those working in childcare and supermarkets.

“This very cohort along with hospitality workers apprentices, single income households are the most vulnerable with regards to housing affordability.”

HomeGround Real Estate Canberra identify there is a growing number of the ACT workforce that will not qualify for public housing, yet are priced out of the private rental market.

Bridging the gap two years ago was the aim when the organisation was first launched, but Ms Edwards said only asset-rich investors can ease the market.

“We’re now calling on Canberra landlords to consider renting out their investment property below market rent in exchange for a waiver of their land tax and other offsets to help those facing increased financial challenges here in the ACT,” she said.

“Our community is facing a prospect of losing these key workers to other regional centres.”

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Andrew Mathieson

Andrew Mathieson

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