As the Aussie home ownership dream fades, it’s time to lift our game for renters

Front door of a rental property

The number of people renting in Australia is growing at twice the rate of home ownership, and a new dataset generated by University of Adelaide researchers will help inform future policy that supports renters and guides infrastructure spending.

Professor Emma Baker, a University of Adelaide Professor of Housing Research in the School of Social Science, says this dataset is the first of its kind in Australia.

“For a long time, we have lived with this notion that Australians are homeowners - now we have to adjust to the fact that future Australians are more likely to be renters than homeowners. Many Australians may well be renters for life,” said Professor Baker. 

“The problem is, we just haven’t known much about who rents, why they rent, or what they are renting. For more than 20 years, no large-scale national dataset existed.”

To answer these questions, the team led by Professor Baker collected 15,000 survey responses from renters all around Australia. The team then developed the Australian Rental Housing Conditions Dataset, which can be accessed through the Australian Data Archive.

The dataset describes renting households from around the country and reveals who Australian renters are, what they want, and what they can afford.

Importantly, the team also collected data about housing quality and conditions, with photographic evidence submitted by renters through a citizen science project.

What’s next?

As governments decide how to spend money on housing and infrastructure, an in-depth analysis of the rental environment is essential.

With this critical information, policymakers will be able to identify potential problems and then develop new policies that support renters and guide targeted investment into our communities.

“We now have a resource that will be invaluable in informing future policy on housing, community support and infrastructure spending,” says Professor Baker.

This project has received Australian Research Council funding to expand over a five-year period.


Tagged in Societal wellbeing