The Australian Greens have proposed a national two-year rent freeze to combat ‘out of control’ rents and ease the cost of living.
The Greens also called for a two-percent cap on rental increases every two years after the freeze.
Greens housing spokesperson Max Chandler-Mather said rent prices are out of control across the nation at a press conference in late August.
‘Millions of Australian renters are struggling to pay the rent, and unless the government wants to see more families sleeping in their cars, they need to do their job and act now to stop this crisis boiling over into a national tragedy,’ Chandler-Mather said.
Data from CoreLogic shows that rents nationwide have increased by nearly 10% in the last year.
Nearly a third of Australians, or 2.9 million households, live in rental properties according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
While acknowledging the cost-of-living pressures impacting many Australians, Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers sees boosting supply as the solution to inflating rent prices.
‘That’s why we have the Housing Australia Future Fund that’s building more affordable homes, and I’m working with the super industry and the states to see if we can build more stock,’ Chalmers said to journalists after the Greens’ announcement last Thursday.
The Greens also proposed an end to no-grounds evictions and minimum standards for private rental properties.
Speaking anonymously to Glass, a 22-year-old Brisbane renter welcomed a rent freeze, citing housing insecurity as one of the biggest pressures on her household.
‘Rent takes up the majority of my expenses, and every increase makes it harder to save,’ she said.
‘It’s not a matter of just moving somewhere cheaper – I’ve already moved to Brisbane for study and work.’
‘It’s not enough to just do things the right way anymore, not with expenses like this.’
However, National Committee member of the Australian Landlord’s Association, Eric Sheers, sees incentives to invest in property as essential in providing reliable housing.
‘The ALA does not see the Green’s proposal as a feasible solution to a rapidly growing national problem,’ Sheers said.
But Chandler-Mather disputes this point, noting that American studies have found no link between lower rent on new housing development.
‘As for existing rental properties, every house sold by a landlord who doesn’t want to freeze the rent is another house available for a first home buyer looking for a place to live,’ Chandler-Mather said.
‘Alongside a rent freeze, the Greens think we should scrap tax breaks for property investors like negative gearing and capital gain tax concessions, and consider taxing vacant residential properties to make sure that it isn’t financially viable for investors to leave their houses empty instead of renting them out.’
‘Ultimately, we think making sure the 2.7 million Australians in rental stress have a secure and affordable home is far more important than protecting the profits of property investors and big banks.’
A poll of Glass readers found more than 90% of Glassies would benefit from a two-year rent freeze, and only 7% were opposed to the idea.