The Clarence Valley LGA is one of the least affordable places to rent in regional NSW.
The Clarence Valley LGA is one of the least affordable places to rent in regional NSW.

How our region fails the rental affordability test

THE rental market in the Clarence Valley has been revealed to be among one of the least affordable in regional NSW, according to a new report.

The Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, produced by Compass Housing Services, found that housing stress was already a major issue for typical regional NSW renters, long before COVID-19 lockdowns began to hit household budgets

Report author, Martin Kennedy, said lower household incomes in regional NSW means that typical renters in many areas experienced housing stress despite nominally cheaper rents.

The report found that in the Clarence Valley local government area, the median rent for property is $365 per week, and when compared to the median weekly household income for households renting privately of $939, it means 39 per cent of median weekly income is required to pay median rent.

The least affordable local government areas of regional NSW to rent, according to Compass Housing Services' Affordable Housing Income Gap Report.
The least affordable local government areas of regional NSW to rent, according to Compass Housing Services' Affordable Housing Income Gap Report.

Mr Kennedy said the report shows that housing stress isn't just something experienced by people on low incomes.

"Even before the current crisis working families with average incomes often struggled to rent suitable properties close to jobs," he said.

"Throw in the possibility of reduced hours or a job loss due to COVID-19 and things can become very tough indeed.

"Although rents are expected to fall in the short term due to more stock coming on to the market, they may not fall far enough to become affordable for typical renting households.

"More to the point, it shouldn't take a global pandemic, closed borders and widespread lockdowns to bring median rents more in line with median incomes."

Mr Kennedy said the existence of the affordable housing income gap is part of a broader housing crisis.

"The problems facing renters are largely due to purchase prices being too high and social housing supply being too low."

"Unfortunately, people who can't afford to buy, and don't qualify for social housing, have no option but to cut back elsewhere and try to manage as best they can."

Regional NSW's least affordable LGAs for renting were Byron Tweed Shire, Clarence Valley (Grafton), Ballina, Coffs Harbour Shoalhaven, Port Macquarie, Goulburn, Kiama and Port Stephens.

The most affordable LGAs for renting were Upper Hunter, Broken Hill, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth, Western Plains (Dubbo), Queanbeyan, Albury, Bathurst, Orange, and Armidale.