Housing rents as much as some families earn



Sir – The second NT Cost of Living Report, released today by the Northern Territory Council of Social Service with support from NT Shelter, reveals that Territory households pay a greater proportion of their incomes on housing costs than households elsewhere in the country.


These high housing costs are being driven by rises in the cost of buying a home as well as rental costs.


The report shows that the Northern Territory is the only place where renters pay a significantly greater proportion of their income on housing costs than do home owners. Given the reliance on rental housing for many low income households this is an alarming finding.


In the past year alone, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for rental housing in Darwin has risen by 7.9%, compared with the national rise of 3.2%. In the last 15 years, rent prices in the NT have risen by 87%, while the general CPI has risen by 53%.


These trends are of great concern to NTCOSS, as the cost of living in the NT is already high, and we know that households in the lowest income quintiles spend more on housing costs than those in the highest quintiles. Any increases in housing costs hit those with the least ability to pay, hardest.


On average, NT households spend $82 more per week on housing costs than the average Australian household, and this should be cause for alarm for all Territorians.


The NT faces the staggering situation where the median weekly rental price for a three bedroom house in Darwin, in the suburb with the lowest rental prices, is more than the total weekly income for a sole parent, with two children, on Newstart and receiving maximum Family Tax Benefit payments.


Added to the alarming findings on rising costs are the facts that the homelessness rate in the NT is almost 15 times the national rate, and urban public housing stocks are dwindling while demand rises.


Given all this, it is hard to conclude anything other than the Northern Territory is in a state of continual housing crisis. We have been living with low housing stock availability, appalling standards of housing, and high homelessness rates for so long, that such figures can lose their sting. This has to be unacceptable in 2013.


In the lead up to Christmas, we owe it to Territorians to take decisive action to provide affordable housing to ease the burden many households are facing.


Ms Wendy Morton

Executive Director, NTCOSS

Toni Vine Bromley

Executive Officer, NT Shelter

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2 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Jay
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    This article is so true. I lived in the Alice for five years with my family. Then we had to move interstate due to high, greedy rents. What a shame so many families have left town and therefore take theire business somewhere else. No wonder town is struggling.

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  2. Vicky
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 11:14 am

    This is so true and a very sad state of affairs. I have family in Alice Springs who pays $460 a week for a three-bedroom house in a poor state of repair. They struggle to put food on the table for the family on a daily basis.
    Greedy real estate agents ill-inform landlords of true rental values in town.
    They then increase rents not knowing it makes life even harder for those in their properties.
    Greed is everywhere, people where I live try to get a “cut” of miners wages by having high rents here too.
    Wake up Australia, have compassion for those less fortunate than you and trying to get on in the world.

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