The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has called on the Federal Government to incentivise landlords to return vacant properties and short-stay rentals back into the long-term rental pool.
The measures form part of a 10-point plan presented to the Federal Senate Inquiry (the inquiry) into the worsening rental crisis, along with other measures to boost supply and improves conditions for renters.
To increase supply, the REIA suggested incentivising vacant properties and short-stay rentals back to the market, re-purposing non-residential real estate, rapid building of homes and auditing the current supply of social housing.
For renters, the REIA has propsed monitoring rental pain points, especially around privately managed properties, a national snapshot of bonds and rent tenures and a national industry-government program of awareness materials.
REIA President, Hayden Groves said tight supply had put upward pressure on residential rents.
“I think a real pressing issue is the impact of housing supply on residential rents,” Mr Groves said.
“And then there is a lot of hysteria around it.
“But part of the solution is more supply, particularly at the affordable and social housing end of the housing spectrum because only three per cent of all housing stock in Australia is, is social and affordable housing.
“So it’s a very small proportion of the overall housing supply.”
Mr Groves said he would also like to see the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill passed through Parliament as soon as possible – but doesn’t want to see things like rent freezes and rental caps.
“We know that if you implement those sorts of initiatives, you see a mass exodus of investors from the market,” he said.
Mr Groves said one of the proposals from REIA was to better monitor rental properties that are not professionally managed.
“Around 25 per cent of mum and dad investors choose to go it alone and manage them privately,” he said.
“We think there are some pain points around that and we are calling for a national system, that can monitor where those pain points are because, as a practising real estate agent, I know that we often have to pick up the pieces of a tenancy that’s gone horribly wrong, from a property that’s being privately managed rather than one that’s being managed by an agent.
“Because of course agents are regulated, we have codes of conduct, we’re professionally trained and we understand the legislation within our state and territory very well.
“We understand the rights of the tenant and we understand the rights of the landlord.
“Privately managed tenancies, on the whole, are more inclined to go sideways and not be compliant with legislation.”
Mr Groves said the vast majority of issues renters have come from privately managed properties.
He said that REIA also wanted to encourage more homes to be built as quickly as possible.
“There’s clearly a need to try and fast-track housing stock in Australia,” he said.
“Obviously, the government has a pretty ambitious plan of 1.2 million homes by the end of 2030, which is well above the current trajectory.
“That’s even harder when you’ve got a supply issue with building supplies and materials being expensive and undersupplied and at the same time, you’ve got the people that need to put the houses together also under severe constraint so that, that makes it particularly difficult.
“As a result of that, we need to think about different building methodologies, prefabricated housing, perhaps championing tiny houses and smaller dwellings that are in the backyards of people that perhaps are underutilising their backyards.”
He said they also want to see more short-term accommodation coming back onto the market.
“We know there are about 140,000 properties out there in the marketplace that are short stay, under short stay management, and a lot of those are under-utilised homes for the long-term market,” he said.
“We’d be encouraging people that do have properties in those short-stay markets to reconsider putting them into the long-term market to help ease the rental crisis.”
REIA’s 10 recommendations:
- ABS to work with state and territory bonds agencies on a national snapshot of bonds and rent tenures.
- National monitoring of rental pain points, particularly tenancies not professionally managed.
- A cohesive national industry-government program of awareness materials is developed for renters.
- Develop incentives for vacant properties and short stay rentals to bring them back to long-term rentals.
- Commit to long-term stamp duty reform; and offer immediate stamp duty waivers for purchases of rental properties in areas of high need.
- Commission an immediate occupancy audit across Government owned and funded housing.
- Develop a feasibility study for re-purposing non-residential real estate into residential housing.
- Examine options for non-conventional rapid build homes in high areas of economic growth and housing need.
- Implement the National Cabinet target to build 1.2 million homes by 2030 and have performance mechanisms that hold governments and industry accountable to achieve this.
- Pass the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill.