More than 20% of Australian households – 1.7 million – depend on the private rental market for a roof over their head, Bureau of Statistics figures show. And affordability is an issue in this market, too. The Real Estate Institute of Australia’s June quarter report says:

Median rent increases over the year to June 2006 have outpaced the 4% annual CPI increase in many areas. Notable increases occurred in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Perth and Hobart experienced double-digit growth in rents over the year to June 2006.

The Tenants Union of Victoria says modelling released today shows that even low income households that receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance are hard-pressed finding affordable rentals in capital cities without experiencing poverty:

Approximately 590,000 households in the private rental market are already struggling with housing stress. Housing stress is defined as spending more than 30% of disposable income on housing and being in the bottom 40% of income distribution.

There are significant economic aspects to this, as the Tenants Union explains:

Young single job seekers living alone cannot find affordable rental housing in any capital city. How are they supposed to be job ready if they are forced out of our cities or are living in unaffordable housing?

They could also ask how these people will ever be able to become home owners, with the security that brings.

State and federal housing ministers are meeting in Canberra this week. Here’s another affordability issue for them to consider.