Why Aussies on six figures sleeping in cars

People looking to rent are facing higher prices than ever before. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard and David Crosling
People looking to rent are facing higher prices than ever before. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard and David Crosling

Rents in Perth are soaring faster than any Australian capital city, forcing some households on $160,000 annual salaries to find alternative shelter by sleeping in cars.

New data revealed advertised rents in Perth have risen 19 per cent in the past year and 4 per cent in the past three months – the highest of the capital cities.

Shelter WA, which analysed the latest SQM Research Weekly Rents Index data, found parts of regional WA were also experiencing the largest rent rises in the country.

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Rent increases are up 19 per cent in Perth - the fastest growth among capital cities. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

Shelter WA CEO Kath Snell said the chronic shortage of available and affordable homes was leading to the state’s worsening rental crisis.

“From Bunbury to Broome, and beyond, the housing crisis is hitting Western Australians hard, with tenants being smashed by some of the biggest rent rises in the country,” Ms Snell said.

“Times are hard for many Western Australians, but it’s hugely encouraging to see key players across the housing sector and government come together under one roof to seek urgent solutions.”

It comes as the state continues to battle keeping up with housing supply, with recent National Housing Finance & Investment Commission data forecasting WA will be 20,000 homes short of what is needed to meet expected housing demand over the next three years.

Community Housing Limited WA manager Sean Kelly told the Australian Financial Review that Western Australia’s housing shortage meant even households on six-figure incomes were unable to find rentals.

“In that central coast, Geraldton area, we’re seeing people on $150,000-$180,000 a year as a household income, and they’re sleeping in their car with their kids because there’s nowhere for them to rent,” he said.

“This is a very different cohort we are seeing approaching us for help, and for a large proportion of them, it’s the first time they’ve come into contact with [the] support services sector.”

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Housing advocates say Western Australia needs at least another 20,000 houses to be built. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

The data, which analysed the weekly rents in the second week of September, found two WA regions were among the country’s top ten areas for rent rises in the past year.

The Goldfields region takes second place (with a 30.8 per cent increase), while the Central Coast region, which covers the Mid-West and Wheatbelt took the ninth spot (24.4 per cent increase).

Urban Development Institute of Australia CEO Tanya Steinbeck said state and federal governments played a “critical role” in working to fix the chronic housing shortage.

“WA needs to ensure it is front of the pack when seeking to secure funding support through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility and in 2024, the Housing Australia Future Fund,” she said.

“If we want to see successful partnerships deliver social and affordable housing where it is needed, then we need government to provide procurement pathways that provide the guardrails for public sector investment while being agile to foster innovation so that viable projects can get off the ground – and fast.”

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People looking to rent are facing higher prices than ever before. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard

Soaring rental increases have been witnessed across the country, including the southwestern Sydney local government area of Canterbury-Bankstown which recorded the highest rental jump of more than 32 per cent within the last 12 months.

Sydney’s CBD ranked third highest with a 29 per cent jump.

When comparing rent increases in capital cities, Melbourne and Perth tied for the top stop, recording a surge of 19 per cent over the past year.

However, Perth saw a 4 per cent increase in rent within a three month period, compared to Melbourne which recorded a 2.8 per cent increase in rent during the same timeframe.