In a move that seeks to provide a “better deal for renters,” the National Cabinet has set a bold housing target and unveiled plans to enhance rental regulations.

The announcement came following a meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and state and territory leaders in Brisbane this afternoon.

What you need to know:

  • National Cabinet sets 5-year target for 1.2m new homes from July 2024
  • Rent increases limited to once per year with reasonable grounds for eviction
  • The Greens have criticised rental measures as “smoke and mirrors”

A new housing target.

The heart of the initiative is to establish an ambitious goal: constructing 1.2 million new homes over five years, starting in July 2024.

This target is a significant increase from the previous National Housing Accord target, which was agreed upon by states and territories the previous year.

“All governments recognise the best way to ensure that more Australians have a safe and affordable place to call home is to boost housing supply,” Prime Minister Albanese said in a press conference. 

The plan is to address the critical issue of housing scarcity during a time of rising rents and a cost-of-living crisis.

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Improving rental regulations

Prime Minister Albanese underlined the importance of boosting housing supply to ensure that more Australians can access safe and affordable housing.

As part of this effort, there will be a push towards greater consistency in rental regulations across states and territories. These changes encompass 3 key areas:

  1. Reasonable grounds for eviction: Jurisdictions will work towards implementing uniform criteria for evictions, ensuring that renters can only be evicted for reasonable and justifiable reasons. While many of these measures are already in place in various parts of the country, ensuring national consistency is an essential step forward.
  2. Limiting rent increases: Another vital aspect of the plan is restricting rent increases to once a year. This measure aims to provide renters with more predictable and manageable financial conditions, protecting them from sudden and excessive rent hikes.
  3. Minimal rental standards: The plan also involves gradually implementing minimal rental standards, ensuring that rental properties meet certain quality and safety requirements. While these standards are already in effect in many areas, the aim is to harmonise and enhance them nationally.

Many parts of Australia have already implemented rental regulations, but in Western Australia, for example, rent can be increased every six months.

“We’re not in a position to flick the switch and just change eight pieces of legislation across states and territories immediately,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese said the rental measures will benefit almost one-third of Australian renters.

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But there’ve been mixed reactions.

Despite the National Cabinet’s efforts to create a “better deal for renters,” not everyone was fully satisfied. The Greens voiced their discontent with the proposed measures, dismissing them as “smoke and mirrors.”

Greens Senator Max Chandler-Mather said these measures fall short of protecting renters. The Greens have been advocating for more robust regulations, including a two-year rent freeze and rent caps.

What about the Future Fund and funding incentives?

The government’s signature housing bill, the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF), has been a contentious point. The HAFF, valued at $10 billion, is designed to facilitate the creation of up to 30,000 new social and affordable homes within five years. However, it has faced opposition in the Senate from the Greens.

To encourage states and territories to exceed their share of the 1 million well-located homes, the federal government has committed to providing $3 billion in incentive payments. This translates to an additional 200,000 homes, each eligible for a $15,000 incentive payment above the established target.

Towards a more accessible housing landscape.

The National Cabinet has also introduced a $500 million competitive funding program with the aim of bolstering housing supply and implementing rental regulation reforms. This program will support local and state governments’ housing initiatives.

Furthermore, the National Planning Reform Blueprint is set to reshape urban planning by promoting medium and high-density housing in strategically positioned areas near existing public transportation hubs. This blueprint also involves updating local governments’ strategic plans to align with housing policy targets.

While housing was the central focus of the National Cabinet’s discussions, it also touched upon other pressing issues, including inflation, rising energy costs, healthcare, education, and skilled employment.

As the plan takes shape, its impact remains to be seen.

3 COMMENTS

  1. They all need to go out and look for a rental themselves. Not one that is not in the high price range, but what would that achieve? Absolutely nothing. They are all on terrific wages and don’t get their house paid for or a discount. Good luck to all of them. We just have to keep going and hope we get a chance. It doesn’t help when you are broken down with knee and back problems, arthritis, and not forgetting my hip is slowly being worn down. No, I have to keep pushing myself until I’m dead on my feet. The government doesn’t care as it doesn’t affect them. Thank you for letting me rave on.

  2. It depends on what is considered affordable housing. Paying $430 per week is beyond the budget for retail and hospitality workers, and certainly for single pensioners. The standard is to allocate one-third of your income towards housing expenses. Mr. Albanese should do the math! This allows a pensioner to have around $350 per fortnight for rent.

  3. Hi there, my name is Lynette and I am on a disability pension. Unfortunately, I had to get a SA Housing Trust Bond for my rental property. They informed me that I just made the weekly amount allowed for the bond on their behalf. $225 is all they allow to receive a bond from them. My argument is: how many rentals do you see on the market for $225? None. So as rental rent goes up, where does that leave us on low incomes?

    I have moved to rental property village [Name removed] for low-income people. However, as the government gave us a rise for ongoing costs, the village took it in rising our rent so we didn’t see it. They supply cooked meals, but once again, they put up the food cost when the government gave us another rise.

    I have been here for one year, and the rent and food cost has gone up twice. I only moved here because there was nowhere else to rent for $225 to be able to get the housing bond. If I move, where could I go and afford? I’m feeling quite trapped and stressed out as I know they will put the rent up again, and I’ll have to move with nowhere to go on my disability pension.

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