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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
You might also like:
> Rent cap plan sparks controversy in Victoria’s housing market
> $400 off your electricity bill: Relief for renters in Western Australia
> Hassle-free moves: NSW passes reforms to allow rental bond transfers
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.