Rent increases in North and North West amid concerns about housing crisis

Rents in North and North West Tasmania increased between five and 11 per cent in the past year and more must be done to head off a looming housing crisis, the sector says.

Shelter Tasmania executive officer, Pattie Chugg, said she was concerned about the growing housing crisis across the state.

“There are no quick fixes and we need to tackle the lack of housing in the North and North-West,” Ms Chugg said.

“Rents in the North have increased by 11% in the last year, and nearly 5% in the North West.

“We need to learn from the Hobart experience where rents are increasing rapidly due to demand and lack of supply.

“Around 40% of renters or 8000 households on low incomes are in rental stress in Tasmania.

“Our members are reporting an unprecedented shortage of rental housing, leading to levels of homelessness they have not seen before.”

Ms Chugg said the more households have to pay in rent, the less they have towards other essentials items, which leaves people with limited choices.

“Increasing housing stress has real social and economic impacts for people,” she said.

Ms Chugg said there were no quick and easy fixes.

“We need to increase the supply of public and community housing as we know this housing will remain affordable in the long term,” she said.   

TasCOSS CEO Kym Goodes said while pressure on the availability and affordability of housing is typically less intense in the State’s north and north west, the demand for affordable and appropriate social housing still outstripped supply.   

“We need to learn the lesson from the Hobart experience,” Ms Goodes said.

“For the major city centres across the North and North West there is capacity to do the appropriate modelling based on projected growth.

“This would need to encompass all areas that housing demand is coming from including short term areas such as predicted tourism growth, jobs growth, through to student accommodation, migration and changes in the overall demographic profiles of these cities.”

Ms Goodes said she did not expect the Government to come up with all the solutions on its own.

“It is necessary to deliver a range of measures suited to varying local needs,” she said.

“It is essential that the government also develop and implement long-term solutions so what is happening in Hobart at the moment does not happen in other parts of the State.

“This means putting in place a plan that lasts beyond the next election cycle and creates a more resilient and appropriate housing supply.

Property Council of Tasmania head Brian Wightman said a range of housing options needed to be considered to cater for people’s varying needs at different times of their lives.

“We are extremely supportive of new houses being added to the Housing Tasmania stock, providing support for vulnerable members of our community whilst also stimulating the building and construction industry at the same time,” Mr Wightman said.

“We are not seeing the housing pressures in the north yet, but it's coming and we must prepare.

“Housing supply must be increased and we must be smarter and quicker with approval processes.

“Tasmania is experiencing a period of economic growth which we must work exceptionally hard to maintain, and that should result in a range of housing options being offered to the market.”

Mr Wightman said the housing market must continue to diversify.  

“Tasmanians require a variety of housing options at different points in their lives.

“Inner-city residential development should occur to offer diversity to the market,” he said.

“This will only eventuate if investment is made simple and cost effective with the finalisation of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme of paramount importance.”

Premier Will Hodgman said affordable housing was a critical issue and his policy included building 1500 new affordable homes.