Report urges immediate action to fix housing affordability
30 November 2023
More people, demanding more housing; those two facts highlight the challenge of rental and housing affordability in Victoria.
Victoria is the nation’s fastest growing state, yet households are decreasing in size, meaning there are more empty bedrooms just as there are increasing numbers of people who want to fill them.
It’s a problem that can’t be solved by one state alone.
That’s why a key recommendation of the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee report into the rental and housing affordability crisis is to call for the renewing of a long-term national housing policy, where the states, territories and Commonwealth cooperate to address our fundamental housing issues.
‘The problem with housing has been decades in the making, and it will also take decades to fix,’ Committee Chair Trung Luu said in his speech tabling the report in the Legislative Council.
‘We have spent too long watching the problems with housing grow while delaying taking action. The time to fix this problem is now,’ he said.
The Committee heard from renters, landlords, rural councils, property developers, interest groups, think tanks, academics and others in drawing its conclusions.
The report found that, while most Victorians still aspire to home ownership, the number of renters is growing in almost all income groups, and those who do manage to buy a property, do so later in life.
‘The key question we face is this: do we want to be a nation of homeowners or a nation of renters?,’ said Mr Luu.
The report makes a range of recommendations aimed at better regulating the rental market, increasing housing supply and protecting the rights of renters, landlords, property owners and aspiring homeowners.
Deputy Chair of the Committee Ryan Batchelor said addressing the crisis is one of the most important policy issues facing Victorians.
‘We heard too many stories from renters who are being poorly treated or who are enduring poorly maintained houses. In addition, I think, to a crisis of cost in the rental market we have got a crisis of quality in our rental supply, and we all need to work together to fix it,’ he said.
The report recommends the government scrap the First Home Owners Grant and transfer the funds to the Private Rental Assistance Program to help more renters cope with their rental costs.
Committee member Aiv Puglielli thanked the many renters who gave evidence to the Committee.
‘Things are incredibly tough. People are putting off medication, they are putting off food, they are struggling to make ends meet, and some of the contributions that were made as part of this inquiry process really I think clarified for many the human cost, the human scale, of this crisis,’ he said.
The report welcomes the government’s recent commitment to build 800,000 homes in the next ten years and to improve the planning system, and calls on the government to commit to building 60,000 new social housing dwellings by 2034, with 40,000 completed by 2028.
Among other key proposals, the Committee has recommended that the Victorian Government:
- investigate enshrining the right to housing in the Charter of Human Rights
- consider establishing a way in which Victorian property owners can engage with the Director of Housing to sell their housing to the government for the purpose of public housing
- investigate ways in which the government can support property owners to contribute to the supply of social housing, such as through tax rebates, and advocate to the Commonwealth Government for similar ways using federal tax concessions
- establish a mandatory code of conduct for the short-stay rental accommodation industry allowing local councils to add additional regulations related to their region.
The full report is available on the Committee’s website.