The second part to the 20th Cost of Living Report released today by the Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) highlights the lack of low cost rental housing in the NT.

The Report, produced by NTCOSS with the assistance of NT Shelter, reveals that while private rental affordability has improved over the past 5 years, given the drop in median private rental prices, NT rental prices are still very high.

Mr. Jonathan Pilbrow, NTCOSS Policy Adviser said, “The Northern Territory has historically had some of the highest rental prices in the country and it is good news for renters that median private rental prices have come down”.

Over the last 5 years 3-bedroom house rent prices in the Darwin North Coastal area have fallen from $828 per week to $645 per week.

In Alice Springs, 4-bedroom house rent prices have dropped from $710 to $675 per week in the last 5 years – but these prices are still very high in a national comparison.

Prices are prone to fluctuation – in last 12 months in Alice Springs rent prices for a 4-bedroom house have increased by 6.7%.
Increased property vacancy rates – especially in Darwin and Palmerston – have contributed to the falling prices in the Top End.

Even with the increase in properties available, however, there is a mismatch between the type of housing available (high priced) and the need for affordable rental housing for low-income households.

Mr Pilbrow said, “Due to the long public housing waiting periods of anywhere between 2 and 8 years, low-income households may be forced to seek a private rental property, but most rental properties of a size to suit their needs would put them in rental stress (paying more than 30% of their income on rent) “For most households on income support payments, there are simply no available and affordable private rental properties in the Northern Territory”.

The report also highlights the inadequacy of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) payments in reducing rental stress for private renters and calls for a 30% increase in the CRA.

In addition, the report calls for more social housing (including public housing and community housing), to provide low cost affordable rental options for low-income Territorian families.

NT Shelter’s Executive Officer, Peter McMillan said, “This Cost of Living report provides further evidence that the Northern Territory is not immune to the same pressures faced elsewhere in Australia, particularly a chronic shortage of affordable housing and significant rental stress for low income earners.

“The report reinforces the need for a coordinated, whole of government approach in the form of a national housing strategy to address the affordable housing deficit. In the meantime, too many Territorians will continue to find access to affordable and appropriate housing elusive”.

The report highlights the particular and critical need for more housing in remote areas of the Northern Territory, with estimates of 2750 more houses required by 2028.

For further information/media comment:
Jonathan Pilbrow – NTCOSS Policy Advisor 0403 611 815
Peter McMillan – NT Shelter Executive Officer 0447 234 217 or 08 8985 4389

Read the 20th NTCOSS Cost of Living Report – Part 2

Read the Housing Fact Sheet

Read the Report Appendices