A young Launceston woman was renting a house with no windows, heating or cooking facilities because of the dire lack of rental properties, a new Anglicare report reveals.
The latest Rental Affordability Snapshot shows there has been a massive 60 per cent drop in Tasmanian properties available to rent since 2013.
Anglicare said on the weekend of March 23-24 this year there were only 1050 properties listed for rent across the state - the lowest ever recorded.
Of those only 212, or 22 per cent, would have been affordable for people on income support.
Less than half, or 465, would have been affordable for households on the minimum wage.
The young Launceston woman who is on Newstart is now couch surfing. The snapshot report showed there were no affordable properties for rent for people on Newstart.
Anglicare Social Action and Research Centre researcher, Margie Law, said the results were "our worst snapshot" and further evidence of a "perfect storm" that was creating housing shortages in Tasmania.
"This perfect storm is disadvantaging thousands of vulnerable Tasmanians," Ms Law said.
"The 60 per cent drop in listings over the past seven years is making it difficult for people on low incomes to find any affordable rental, let alone have choices about location to be close to support networks and employment opportunities.
"Anglicare clients tell us about competing against 40 or more prospective tenants when they apply for a rental.
"We are seeing greater competition for private rentals, increased waiting lists for public housing and unrelenting demand for homelessness services."
Ms Law said that over the past seven years, public and social housing had not been able to meet demand, private rentals had declined, in part due to short-stay accommodation listings, and private rents and house prices had both increased.
"This has resulted in increased competition for private rentals, increased waiting lists for public housing and . unrelenting demand for homelessness services," she said.
"If we can't get housing right, people's health, access to employment and education all suffer."
The snapshot showed:
- All of the properties were unaffordable for a single person on Youth Allowance or Newstart;
- 99% of the properties were unaffordable for a single parent on Newstart. The eight affordable properties were located on the West Coast;
- 97% of the properties were unaffordable for a person on a Disability Support Pension. The majority of affordable properties were located in the North-West.
- 88% of properties were unaffordable for a single person on the Age Pension.
- 72% of properties were unaffordable for a family living on minimum wage earnings.
Ms Law said the snapshot showed Tasmanians living on the age pension struggled to find suitable rental homes.
She said the data showed only 122 properties state wide were affordable for a single person on the age pension and most of those were in share houses.
"A room in a share house is not going to suit everyone, particularly older people," Ms Law.
"Our initial analysis indicates that the proportion of share houses has more than doubled in the past seven years.
"People on the lowest incomes are being pushed out of the rental market which is why we need federal and state governments to make major investments in affordable housing - to ensure everyone has a place to call home."
Council on the Ageing Tasmania chief executive Sue Leitch said many older people in the private rental market were experiencing high levels of financial and emotional stress.
"Our research showed two thirds of those renting were vulnerable and their quality of life lower," Ms Leitch said.
"These vulnerable older Tasmanians say that the cost of living - including rent - is increasing at a rate that is leaving them behind."
Ms Law said not enough was being spent to meet current or future housing demands. "It might be the biggest investment ever but it is not enough," she said.
On any one night 1,600 Tasmanians are homeless, one fifth of whom are children, the Anglicare rental affordability snapshot says.
It says a further 940 Tasmanians are living in "other marginal settings" including caravan parks, improvised or crowded housing.
About 6,500 Tasmanians received specialist homelessness services in 2017-18, the majority of whom said they were seeking help because of "housing crisis".
The snapshot details the harrowing personal stories of several renters including Launceston single mum Josie and her nine-year-old son Ryan who have been living in a friend's shed for six months.
The report showed only eight properties across the state were affordable for Josie and her son, all of which were in Queenstown or Rosebery.
"There were no properties affordable for them that would enable them to stay in northern Tasmania to be near family and friends," the report said.
"If Josie was able to spend $260 a week rent (49 per cent of her income, which would put her into rental stress) only 125 properties would be affordable and appropriate across the state, with just 33 in the North."
Terri, a single woman in her 60s, is on the age pension living with her mother but was assaulted by a family member.
"Terri has lived in a backpackers' hostel in a shared dorm, couch surfed, and stayed in a shelter for homeless people over the past few years while she looked for private rental," the report said.
Mel and Jack and their two children have been couch surfing between family homes in Northern Tasmania since their rental lease ended four months ago.
They have also stayed in caravan parks and the report says the "travelling is affecting Jack's work and the children's attendance at school".