Older women renters are struggling in an insecure and unaffordable rental housing market. A combination of high rents and low incomes leaves many living in substandard housing and unable to afford necessities like food and energy bills. Rrent increases further stress household budgets, and evictions magnify these risks. COVID-19 makes the need for reform even more urgent.
Single older women aged 55 and over are overrepresented amongst the asset poor in Australia. They are also one of the fastest growing groups of homeless people nationally. This status is a product of a number of risks that accrue to women across the life course including gendered differences in pay and superannuation. It is also a product of an unaffordable and insecure private rental system.
This report details the evidence for identified benefits of cooperative housing, the variables of business models in operation, and core enabling factors.
Reform in the private rental sector is essential. Growing numbers of Australians rent their housing and increasing proportions are expected to rent long-term. This makes it essential that private rental housing meets the need that every person has for a secure and affordable home. It is getting harder for older renters to find adequate, appropriate and secure housing.
The New South Wales government has introduced a bill to reform the Residential Tenancies Act. This act sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in private rental accommodation in NSW. It is getting harder for older renters to find adequate, appropriate and secure housing. Older women – the focus of my work – are at particular risk.
It is getting harder for older renters to find adequate, appropriate and secure housing. Older women – the focus of my work – are at particular risk. This is due to longer life expectancy, lower incomes across the life course, and less access to benefits like superannuation.
For renting to become a truly viable, long-term alternative to home ownership, greater rental affordability and security are needed. Longer-term structural changes to tackle housing affordability, including boosting the supply of social housing and increasing tenure diversity, will be essential.
Government strategies to manage population ageing largely assume that older Australians are home owners. There is often an implied association between home ownership and ageing well: that is, older Australians who own homes are seen as having made the right choices and as being less of a budget burden. The problem with this approach is that not everyone is or can be a home owner.