Would a Two-Year Rent Freeze Fix Australia’s Housing Crisis?

With rental costs getting out of control, the Greens have proposed an emergency rent freeze that would look to stop the growing gap between wages and rent.
rental crisis
Western Sydney by Steve Christo-Corbis via Getty

As wages stagnate and the cost of living goes up, Australia has been pushed into a housing affordability crisis. The solution, according to a new plan from the Greens: a two year rent freeze on properties across the country.

The call for change follows new research by advocacy group Everybody’s Home that found COVID-19 – and housing price increases – have pushed prospective workers out of the rental market.


The Greens’ proposed emergency rent freeze would be followed by ongoing rent caps that increase two percent every 24 months. There would also be an end to no grounds evictions. 

Of course, news of Australia’s increasing cost of living – and lack of suitable housing – will come as no surprise to most residents. The outskirts of cities across the country have become laden with tents filled by families who cannot afford a home. Earlier this month, in far-north Queensland, welfare agencies were even handing tents out to those unable to find shelter. 

Since winning the election in May, the Labor Party and prime minister Anthony Albanese have faced repeated calls from housing policy advocates and the crossbench to take urgent, short-term action to quell the crisis.

And in a recent quarterly report, property market analysts Corelogics found that dwelling rents across capital cities had risen 9.1 percent higher, while regional areas were 10.8 percent than rates in June 2021. 

According to CoreLogic Research Analyst Kaytlin Ezzy, it’s the highest annual growth since December 2008, when rental demand was supported by record levels of international immigrants.

“An emergency freeze will give wages and incomes time to catch up to rents, which over the last 12 months have grown seven times faster than wages in capital cities,” Max Chandler-Mather, the Greens spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness, said in a statement. 


“With more and more people renting long-term, we desperately need legislated protection against unfair, arbitrary evictions and skyrocketing rent.”

At present, Anthony Albanese and the Labor Government aims to tackle the issue with The Housing Australia Future Fund, a policy that will build 30,000 social and affordable housing properties in the first five years of office.

But community housing providers and social housing advocates say that’s not enough.

Michele Adair, who heads up Housing Trust, one of the largest community housing providers in New South Wales, Housing Trust, told VICE the country needs “urgent action now.”

“The crisis in regional communities is getting worse by the month with no relief in sight,” she said.

According to Adair, 15,000 houses a year is a more “meaningful national target”, and that includes a matching of those numbers by states and territories.

“Just as the Government coordinated a national response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Federal Government should intervene to coordinate an emergency nationwide response to the housing crisis,” said Chandler-Mather. 

“We’ve got families sleeping in their cars, workers unable to afford a home near where they work, people being evicted from their homes because they can’t afford 20% rent increases and the governments just sitting on their hands when they have the capacity to intervene and stop the worst of this crisis.”
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