Tasmanian Government launches pilot program to get landlords to rent out their properties

A $1.6 million statewide pilot program has been launched by the Tasmanian Government to entice landlords to rent their properties to low income earners.

It is aimed at luring people who use their properties for short term rental, such as Airbnb, to rent them out.

Housing Minister Roger Jaensch said the program would begin next month and run until June 2019.

“It is about making use of more private rental properties for people who are under housing stress,” he said.

“The housing assistance plan will provide individuals, couples, and families in our community who are finding it tough to secure affordable rental properties, with access to secure private rental accommodation (12 month leases) at an affordable rent.

“For each approved property, owners will receive a financial payment of $10,000 to $13,000 per property, per year and will also be guaranteed that rent is paid for the term of the lease.”

Mr Jaensch said unlike regulating Airbnb or freeing up more land for housing, the pilot program could begin immediately.

He said Treasury was working on gathering data to look at the impact of short term accommodation.

“We need to understand the whole market and all the forces that are at work and we’re gathering that data now,” he said.

The government funding will provide for a maximum of 110 properties to come onto the private rental market.

He said Tasmanians on a social housing register would be matched to landlords.

“Property owners can register for the initiative through Housing Tasmania and must meet eligibility criteria to participate,” he said.

“Properties must be affordable to low income households.”

Shelter Tasmania executive officer Patti Chugg welcomed the initiative but said it must also be complemented with longer term strategies to increase the overall supply of affordable rental housing. 

She said Shelter Tasmania would also like to see the program complemented with better regulation of short term stay accommodation such as AirBnB, which added to the scarcity of affordable rental housing in our competitive rental markets.

“We understand that more details about the Private Landlord Incentives Program will be released soon,” Ms Chugg said.

“However, we look forward to better understanding how this Program will be delivered, including avoiding displacing existing tenants currently housed in the properties, the income groups that will be eligible, the tenancy protections and measures that will be taken to ensure tenants do not face unaffordable rents once the incentive expires.

“We also want to know the eligibility criteria for properties, including housing quality, location in relation to demand, and access to jobs and services.”

 Real Estate Institute of Tasmania spokesman Chris McGregor hailed the program but said regulation of Airbnb must be examined.