Though house rents are continuing to rise, with rental markets in most capital cities tightening in the March quarter, the rental market in Western Australia is becoming more affordable for minimum wage workers.
However, despite growing affordability, many WA households are still struggling to find affordable accommodation, according to church non-profit Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot.
On 1 April 2017, 14,123 private rentals were advertised for rent in three regions of WA, covering (1) Greater Perth Metropolitan Area (including Peel), (2) South West and Great Southern (including Bunbury and Albany), and (3) the North West (including Pilbara and Kimberley). The number of listed rentals was up 8% from last year.
Moreover, the median rent in the Perth Metropolitan Area fell by 11% to $350 per week. This fell by 6% in the South West and Great Southern regions, and by 7% in the North West.
Following years of inflated rents during the mining boom, working-class families in WA are finally seeing some real improvement in rental affordability—defined as being less than 30% of household income.
Anglicare found that more than 46% of properties listed in Perth were affordable for a couple both earning minimum wage and receiving Family Tax Benefit in 2017, compared to 39% last year. In contrast, only 23% of such households could afford properties in Melbourne; this number drops to an astonishing 4% in Sydney.
Single parents earning a minimum wage have fewer options, as they could only afford about 6% of properties listed in Perth. In all of Sydney and Melbourne, only one property was affordable for single parents getting by on a minimum wage.
The situation remains pretty grim for WA households subsisting on a fixed income: A person on a disability pension could only afford 25 properties (a mere 0.2% of available properties); a single parent could only afford 48 properties (0.3% of available properties); and pensioners could afford 105 properties (2.7% of available properties).
Those on relying a Newstart or Youth Allowance had no affordable options to consider in the entire state. These include boarding schools and shared houses, where rooms are rented out individually.
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