A stable and secure home is the primary platform for connection to economic and social community life, providing a base that enables people to overcome challenges and live a decent life. Increasing rents and house prices mean people struggle to stay housed, are forced to live in sub-standard homes or live far from jobs and services, and have difficulty covering other basic living costs.
Renters are particularly impacted by high housing costs as they are likely to have lower incomes, less wealth, and spend proportionately more of their income on housing costs. For many on particularly low incomes, rental housing is simply unaffordable (and home ownership is out of the question).
Download the 2023 SACOSS Policy Brief on Rental Affordability
In late 2022, the state government announced a review of the Residential Tenancies Act - the major state legislation governing relations between landlords and renters. The government's discussion paper beginning the review proposes a number of changes, most of which would be helpful for renters, but largely avoids the key issue of rental affordability.
Download the SACOSS Submission to the Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 or the two-page Policy Brief summarising the submission.
In the first half of 2023, the government made a number of good changes: reducing the amount of bonds required on rentals, protecting tenants' information, and limiting (but not banning) rent bidding.
A second tranche of reform legislation is set for the second half of 2023, which will include major reforms like banning no-cause evictions and providing better rights for renters with pets. In the lead-up to this legislation, SACOSS joined with Better Renting, Uniting Communities, Shelter SA and the Anti-Poverty Network in a Joint Statement of reform priorities for renters' rights. The statement was endorsed by 40 other community groups.
Alongside reforms to the private rental market, public housing is particularly important. It provides homes for those who are left out of the housing market and adds supply to the market to make housing more affordable for everyone. Its construction provides economic stimulus in the short term and it is a store of public wealth over the long term. However, the stock of public housing in South Australian has declined over recent decades (see SACOSS Briefing Note here), many of the houses are old and energy-inefficient, and there is a substantial waiting list for homes.
As the 2021 SACOSS video explains, it all makes for a Cold Winter's Night.