Hobart housing crisis: Tourism squeezing out affordable rentals in Tasmania, report finds

A new report has singled out Tasmania as one of two regions in the country where soaring tourism has led to a “rapid decline” in affordable rental properties.

Key points:

  • Record 1.3 million tourists visited Tasmania last year
  • The number of rentals being advertised is dropping, and they are becoming more unaffordable, report finds
  • Tasmania’s wages remain the lowest in the country

The 2018 Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot, released today, singled out Tasmania’s tourism boom and expansion of holiday rental provider Airbnb in Hobart as key contributors to a housing shortage.

The authors said a record 1.3 million tourists to the state in 2017 created “unprecedented” demand for accommodation, resulting in Airbnb listings jumping from 2,874 to 4,459 in the 12 months to February 2018.

Three quarters of those listings are full homes and 61 per cent are in Tasmania’s south.

Anglicare concluded this growth, alongside rising housing prices, have taken rental affordability “from bad to worse”.

“Affordability in and around the state’s capital is at such a low point that more than half of the low-income household types measured had no affordable rental options available,” the report found.

Combination of factors driving unaffordability

The snapshot of 1,245 Tasmanian properties is taken from websites and the three major newspapers on one weekend in March.

Properties are deemed affordable if the weekly rent is less than 30 per cent of household income.

Of those properties, about 20 per cent were considered affordable for Tasmanians on a minimum wage and only about 4 per cent of properties were affordable for households on income support payments.

Anglicare social action and research manager, Meg Webb, told ABC Radio Hobart there were a combination of factors at play.

“Let’s talk about it as two things, because one of the things we notice with this snapshot each year over the last five years is that the number of properties advertised is dropping, and the second part is what proportion of that pool is affordable,” she said.

“What we’re seeing, particularly in the south, is the proportion of the diminishing pool that’s affordable is shrinking.”

None of the properties in the sample were affordable for a young person on Newstart, which has been the case in consecutive reports.

Economic results paint a mixed picture

The authors note Tasmania’s wages remain the lowest in the country, potentially inhibiting the ability of people to access housing.

“While the state’s housing market and cost-of-living pressures surge, Tasmanian wages continue to be the lowest in the nation,” the report said.

“If wage growth continuously fails to keep up with property prices and living costs, Tasmanians will continue to be locked out of their own housing market.”

These results come off the back of Commsec’s State of the State report, which revealed Tasmania has recorded the strongest population growth in the country.

Tasmania ranked fourth overall in economic performance — finishing behind New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.

Commsec senior economist Ryan Felsman told ABC Radio Hobart the economic data supports the idea of a tightening housing market.

“Certainly, if you look at house price growth in Hobart at the moment it leads the nation at 13 per cent on an annualised basis, and at the same time, rents are up by 3.7 per cent,” he said.

Mr Felsman predicted private housing investment would rise in the coming years, creating increased supply and loosening the Hobart market.

Image: Flickr: Warrick Wayne

This piece was published as part of my work for the ABC. It was published on Monday 30/4/18. It can be found here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-30/tasmania-tourism-boom-limiting-affordable-rental-properties/9710110 

 

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