28 September 2023

Canberra renters have it better than most, but these are the ACT suburbs feeling the most pain

| Lizzie Waymouth
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Phillip ranked the worst suburb in the ACT for rental pain, with a vacancy rate of just 0.28 per cent and an average 12-month increase in rental prices of 7 per cent. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Phillip, Palmerston, O’Connor and Barton were among the worst suburbs for renters in Canberra, according to the latest data gathered by Suburbtrends.

While these areas ranked highest on Suburbtrends’ Rent Pain Index, the ACT generally fared better than other states and territories.

The Rent Pain Index is an integrated metric calculated from five variables: rent change, advertised rentals, vacancy rates, change in vacancy rates and rent affordability. Each suburb is scored between 1 and 100, with 100 indicating maximal rental stress. The index only applies to suburbs with at least 250 properties managed by real estate agents.

“The situation seems to be a lot better in the ACT,” Suburbtrends director Kent Lardner told Region. “I wouldn’t say it’s good, but it’s just not as bad.”

Mr Lardner said this is mostly down to a steady supply of new housing stock and easing rental prices.

“The average vacancy rate has jumped up a bit as well, keeping downward pressure on rents,” he said.

The ACT’s average 12-month rental increase was 2 per cent, compared with the national average of 12.85 per cent. Vacancy rates were also much higher than other states and territories, at 2.12 per cent, whereas the national average was 0.61 per cent.

“Probably if I were to be in a capital city as a renter, I would want to be in the ACT,” Mr Lardner said.

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The ACT also benefits from generally higher incomes, meaning fewer renters spend 30 per cent of their income on rent.

“Income levels are a bit inflated,” he said. “As a result, very few suburbs sit above that 30 per cent mark.”

The ACT suburbs where renters were, on average, spending more than 30 per cent of their income were Reid, Yarralumla, Page, Jacka, Greenway, Griffith, Forrest, Wright and Canberra East.

Mr Lardner pointed out that the index is likely to “understate the affordability equation” as it uses average incomes for the whole suburb, and renters typically have a lower-than-average income.

However, the data still suggests rental conditions in the ACT are better than the rest of Australia – the ACT and NT are the only jurisdictions not to feature on Suburbtrends’ top 25 suburbs for rental pain in the country, and Mr Lardner reckoned the ACT wouldn’t even feature on the top 100.

“By and large, it’s just an area where renting is still very affordable,” he said.

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Mr Lardner said the index is more than just numbers, “it’s a call to action” to tackle the rental crisis.

“ACT offers relatively better conditions, raising important questions for policymakers about how to alleviate rental stress in the more afflicted states,” the report states.

“Policymakers and stakeholders need to acknowledge this growing crisis,” Mr Lardner said.

“The relentless climb in rent and plummeting vacancy rates are not just statistics but indicators of a quality of life that is rapidly deteriorating for Australian renters.”

Original Article published by Lizzie Waymouth on Riotact.

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