New data has again confirmed that the Illawarra has some of the most unaffordable rentals in the state, with not a single postcode in the acceptable, affordable or very affordable range.
The annual Rental Affordability Index calculates rental affordability based on median rental prices and the average income of rental households.
The least affordable postcode in the Illawarra is 2515, which covers the northern suburbs between Thirroul and Clifton.
The most affordable rentals were found in the 2505 postcode of Port Kembla, however even this area was still in the moderately unaffordable category.
The data is prepared by housing advocacy body National Shelter and consultancy SGS Economics & Planning and the report authors said the new data reinforced that the regions were no more affordable than the capital cities, and singled out the Illawarra in particular.
"Regional centres like Bathurst, Maitland, Wagga Wagga, and effectively the entire coastline including the entirety of Illawarra-Shoalhaven, all offer at best, moderately unaffordable rents at the median level," the report authors said.
Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said the access to high-paying Sydney CBD jobs made the northern suburbs particularly unaffordable, with relative capacity to pay of the residents there enabling landlords and real estate agents to raise prices to exploitative levels.
"Private landlords have been able to exploit the potential for being able to continue to increase rents, far in excess of CPI and also far in excess of what interest rates," she said.
Rental statistics for the 2515 postcode show in the three months between April and June this year, the median private market rent in the suburb increased by 12.3 per cent.
At the other end of the region, the suburbs of Kiama, Gerringong, Albion Park, Shellharbour and the northern Shoalhaven, including Berry and Shoalhaven Heads were ranked severely unaffordable.
The proposed review targeted the 90,000 holiday homes that are for rent on a short-term basis, in an effort to ease long-term rents for those living in tourist meccas.
The Kiama and Shoalhaven LGA have some of the highest proportion of short-term holiday rentals, eclipsed only by areas on the north coast such as Byron Bay. Almost six percent of all private dwellings in the Shoalhaven are non-hosted short term rental accommodation - equivalent to 3,275 dwellings.
In the Shoalhaven, 704 people were homeless on the night of the 2021 census.
A spokesperson for Shoalhaven City Council said the review could spark further action by council.
"Following the release of the NSW Government's review of the existing Short-Term Rental Accommodation planning provisions, which it understood will occur before the end of the year, Council will consider what opportunities this review enables and make a submission advocating a position."
In Kiama, 5.46 per cent of all homes are non-hosted holiday rentals, 564 dwellings in total.
However, unlike those areas do not limit the number of days a property can be leased for. New rules will come into effect in Byron Shire next year that specify holiday rental can only be leased for up to 60 days a year, while in the Northern Rivers, Newcastle, Dubbo, the Bega Valley and Sydney properties can only be leased for 180 days a year.
Kiama Municipal Council last debated a similar cap in 2021, however ultimately decided to not go ahead, with opponents arguing that Kiama did not have enough other accommodation if short-term rentals were withdrawn from the market.
Ms Adair said it was difficult to know whether caps on short-term rentals had led to more long-term rentals on the market, but said there were other methods by which loopholes could be closed that disincentivised properties from being rented out year round.
"At the moment, you can write-off your whole year's worth of costs, and yet still only have a couple of months worth of income," she said.
"That's completely unacceptable and quite a bizarre situation."
In addition, the state government has targeted increasing supply to address housing affordability, particularly in areas already well served by transport and services.
Ms Adair said this would be helpful, but the vast gulf between rents in the private housing market and subsidised housing rates, required further direct intervention in the market.
She gave the example of a Corrimal affordable housing development managed by the Housing Trust, and a similar quality block of units in the same suburb.
"The most we charge up to $516 a week, these are affordable under the government's rules for a household with an income of about $90,000," she said.
There is a townhouse of a similar size, quality, condition and age in Corrimal, rented for $1100 per week.
"That is only affordable if your income is $190,000 a year."
The median household yearly income in the Illawarra is $87,568.
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