The first quarter of 2021 has seen a disproportionate increase in the number of people experiencing some form of housing crisis, particularly within the private rental market. This has been covered widely in the media, as well as academic analysis and insights from peak bodies, universities, and advocate groups1a-d. Although lack of housing stock is not a new phenomenon, it has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic leaving the private rental market in high demand.


With Government imposed moratoriums on residential tenancy evictions, the COVID-19 Payment Supplement and Job Keeper allowances coming to an end, South Australians who have managed to sustain their private rental properties are being forced into homelessness making this an issue that demands immediate attention. View the report here.

Key findings

Feedback from people with lived experience of housing issues in South Australia at the start of 2021 are categorised into these four areas of concern.

Availability

Of the 44 engagement activity respondents, 64% were looking for a private rental property. However, as highlighted in the RentRight SA data, several respondents were also part of a new demographic who were at risk of homelessness due to low housing stock.

We don’t know what’s wrong. We have money, income and references but have not been successful (in finding another rental).

Affordability

With Adelaide ranked the second least affordable city in Australia for renters, it is no surprise both RentRight SA enquiries and engagement activity respondents reported high levels of financial hardship. Analysis of the statistics from RentRight SA private rental enquiries using identified themes revealed 20% were in hardship/housing stress.

My current lease expires 31st March and I’m already paying more than half of my income on rent. My friends and I are willing to pay more if the landlord will renew the lease

Property Condition

Concern regarding the condition of private rentals, lack of maintenance, security and safety concerns were highlighted in the RentRight SA identified themed data set. 41% reported unsuitable property conditions with unattended maintenance issues and 8% reported safety concerns with their tenancy.

We don’t hassle the landlord to fix it up as we might get thrown out.

Moratorium on Residential Tenancy Evictions

When asked about the impact of the Moratorium, most respondents were not aware of it and those who knew about it, reported it had not been of any help. The unique nature of this response reflects the need for stronger enforcement of government directives in the housing sector.

I was impacted by the pandemic, but the Moratorium does not have any effect if you can still pay rent but cannot afford it.


The Housing Gridlock

The housing and homelessness sector is already saturated with people struggling to resolve their “houselessness” and homelessness. The social housing waitlist is significant, further frustrating efforts to obtain a housing pathway. Adding the ‘rental crisis cohort’ to the current gridlock will create a loop of private renters forced into homelessness and thus creating more stress on an already pressured system.

Recommendations

Engagement activity respondents were asked to provide recommendations on what would help alleviate some of the rental stress, homelessness and housing sector gridlock they experienced. Recommendations include:

  • Improved access to housing and homelessness information and services
  • Provide longer leases for rental stability
  • Increase the number of and use of, ‘Authorised’ people under the Housing and Improvement Act 2016.
  • Rental subsidies to support households with reduced income compared to the rental market price
  • Provide a range of viable solutions for people to manage rental debts acquired because of the rent deferral during the Moratorium.
  • Increase the availability of affordable housing stock.

Visit our Lived Experience Engagement Service page to learn more.