Showing posts with label housing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label housing. Show all posts

Monday, 8 May 2017

Rental housing affordability in regional Australia, 2017


Anglicare Australia’s latest Rental Affordability Snapshot, April 2017, does not offer good news for individuals, couples and families in regional areas who cannot afford to purchase their own home:


Single income households

Single people in regional areas are still hard hit by housing unaffordability. Regional areas generally have fewer services and higher unemployment rates, raising the dilemma of “if you can afford to live there, there are no jobs and if there are jobs, you can’t afford to live there!”

Of the 13,739 regional properties analysed on the collection weekend, there were fewer than five properties that would be suitable for a single person on Youth Allowance (#9 or #10) (n=2 & 3). For those on Newstart, the appropriate properties ranged from 0.1% for singles on Newstart (#8) (n=18), increasing to 1.7% (n=235) for a single parent on Newstart (#5). Singles on the Disability Support Pension (#7) could access 3.49% (n=542) of properties surveyed. An age pensioner (#6) could access 5.0% (n=687) of properties surveyed, however, many of these properties were share houses so there are questions about how successful an application by an age pensioner for this property type would be.
Singles living on the Parenting Payment with one child (#4) could access 7.2% of rentals (n=986), while those on the same payment with two children (#2) could access 5.5% (n=751).
Singles living on the minimum wage might apply for 1,207 properties (8.8%) if on their own (#13) or 2,534 properties (18.4%) if they have two children (#12).
Double income households
A couple living in regional area with two children on the minimum wage (#11) might access 46.7% of all rentals (n=6,422). However, the same family living on Newstart (#1) might only access 8.2% (n=1,133).
An Age Pension couple (#3) could afford 16.7% (n=2,295) of the 13,739 properties.
Couple households living with two children on minimum wage and parenting payment (#14) might access 28.1% of the rentals (n=3,854).

Monday, 1 May 2017

Looking for all those vacant residential dwelling being deliberately kept out of the Australian housing market


In the 2011 Census there were 2,297,460 rented private dwellings recorded. This was 29.6 per cent of the 7,760,322 private dwellings declared covering an est. 8,420,000 households.


Simple maths shows there was possibly around 534,000 private dwellings for which there were unlikely to be tenants and which were potentially available for sale.

Given these excess dwellings are likely to be unevenly spatially distributed, a number of metropolitan suburbs and regional urban areas would still be experiencing limited availability of housing stock for rent or sale and therefore demand may be unmet.

However, according to BIS Sharpnel; In 2017After a record breaking building boom in most capitals, Australia will have 24,039 extra homes above what are needed and will be oversupplied for the first time in more than a decade, a new report shows.

So why is it so hard to find a place to rent in large metropolitan areas and why is housing for sale so expensive?

It appears there is an artificial drought which can only be explained by the high percentage of investment properties in the housing stock mix which had reached 23 per cent by 2015, comprising one quarter of all house stock and two-thirds of apartment stock.

Domain.com.au released a ball park estimate of all vacant properties on 4 April 2017, based on Prosper Australia  research:

QUEENSLAND

An estimated 59,000 properties are standing empty in Queensland.

NEW SOUTH WALES

There are an estimated 121,000 properties vacant across New South Wales (with up to 90,000 properties standing empty in Sydney suburbs).

VICTORIA

The president of Prosper Australia, Catherine Cashmore, who has collected data on water usage to show there are 80,000 empty homes in Melbourne, said an empty home tax was an intuitively appealing policy that could pave the way for greater reforms.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

There are an estimated 23,000 properties vacant in South Australia.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

An estimated 21,000 vacant properties.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

There are an estimated 2,000 vacant properties in the Territory.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRIOTORY

An estimated 5,000 vacant properties.

TASMANIA

An estimated 7,000 vacant properties.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 28 March 2016:

Vacant properties were among the "perverse outcomes" of tax incentives that encouraged some investors to favour capital growth over rental returns, according to the analysis by the UNSW's City Futures Research Centre.

"Leaving housing empty is both profitable and subsidised by government," researchers Bill Randolph and Laurence Troy said. "This is taxation lunacy and a national scandal."

The ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods analysed Australian Taxation Office data and found at least 4,204 “legislators” who owned investment properties of which more than 13.87 per cent appear to negatively gear their properties.


So it is not hard to see why the Turnbull Government is dragging its heels when faced with the “perverse outcomes” arising from negative gearing and capital gain tax concessions.

Or why a Coalition state government like the NSW Government would decide that the best way to address a perceived housing shortage is to give its political supporters free rein.

Sky News, 9 January 2017:

The NSW government will be able to fast-track developments under a massive shake-up of the state's planning system aimed at tackling Sydney's chronic housing shortage.
Councils will determine fewer development applications under the proposed changes but will be responsible for devising more planning strategies with local communities.
Other proposals include providing incentives for developers if they consult with neighbours and the community before lodging development applications and simplifying building regulations.

It defies belief that the NSW Coalition Government would believe that just building more private housing for investors to warehouse for financial gain is a solution to rising house prices and limited availability.


Realestate.com.au calculates that it requires at least one person in a marriage/
partnership, presumably without children, to be in full-time employment - and earning more in wages each week than half the current workforce - for the couple to have any hope of saving for a deposit within a reasonable time period:


So if our multimillionaire prime minister, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, and his parliamentary fellow travellers won’t act to ease housing affordability by removing taxation loopholes which allow the greedy to manipulate the housing market to their advantage, then it is up to voters to apply a cattle prod to their privileged haunches – and vote them out in 2018-19.

And if state governments won’t move to penalise investors who deliberately leave residential dwellings vacant for a trouble-free capital gain as well as a tax deduction, then voters with an eye to the future of their children and grandchildren might consider letting them know how they feel about the situation.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Quotes of the Week


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Donald Trump averaged 41% job approval during his first quarter as president, 14 percentage points lower than any other president in Gallup's polling history. Bill Clinton had the previous low mark of 55%. The average first-quarter rating among post-World War II presidents elected to their first term is 61%, with John Kennedy's 74% the highest. [Gallup, US analytics firm established in 1935, 20 April 2017]

Australia is particularly exposed to developments in North Korea with commitments as a signatory to the Armistice, and sitting precariously at the mercy of the whims of two "mad men". [Former Liberal MP & former leader of the Liberal Party, John Hewson, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on 28 April 2017]

"If you can afford to live there, there are no jobs and if there are jobs, you can't afford to live there!"  [Anglicare Australia, Rental Affordability Snapshot 2017]

"“If you march but you don’t vote you are a f*ckin’ idiot.” 
[Australian comedian Adam Hills on The Last Leg, Channel 14, 21 April 2017]

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ninety-six per cent of Australian federal parliamentarians own a property


ABC News, 20 April 2017:

There's no housing affordability crisis in the ranks of Federal Parliament's members and senators.

The politicians charged with tackling the thorny issue of spiralling house prices are among the nation's most aggressive property investors, an analysis by the ABC has revealed.

The 226 individuals own 524 properties between them and about half of them own investment properties.

That means many of our politicians have a very personal interest in any changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount……

Ninety-six per cent of parliamentarians own a property. Only 10 out of our 224 elected officials aren't in the game.

Compare that to the rest of Australia, where home ownership is expected to dip below 50 per cent sometime this year.

Register of Members’ Interests for 45th Australian Parliament.

Although a number of investment properties are listed in the members’ register this does not necessarily mean that additional property is not owned as part of superannuation schemes (other than that operated by the Commonwealth of Australia) or included in the assets of a private corporation in which a member has a significant shareholding.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

GREED Inc: rental income & negative gearing in Australia


The Guardian, 12 April 2017:


The ATO stats also show the number of landlords with an interest in six or more rental properties has grown quickly in the last three years, up 8.6%, from 17,671 to 19,198 individuals.

Landlords with an interest in five rental properties have grown even faster, up 9.8%, from 16,600 to 18,231. Those with an interest in three or four properties have also grown quickly, up 7% each.

By comparison, the largest number of landlords are those with an interest in a single rental property, at 1.5 million. Their number increased by just 2% over the last three years.

The Conversation, 13 April 2017:

The latest data from the ATO is consistent with what we’ve seen in the past. It shows that people with high-income occupations – doctors, lawyers, and others – are more likely to use negative gearing than the nurses and teachers on whom Treasurer Scott Morrison focuses when he tries to justify retaining negative gearing. It also shows that negative gearing is typically worth four to five times more for doctors and lawyers than nurses and teachers.



The Guardian, 13 April 2017:

The release of the taxation statistics for 2014-15 reveals that, while the number of people negative gearing has levelled in the past three years as interest rates have fallen, the greatest share of the benefits of negative gearing goes to above average earners – and the biggest growth is to those owning multiple properties.

With housing affordability and negative gearing the hot topic in the run up to the May budget, the annual release of the taxation statistics by the ATO on Wednesday served to reinforce how greatly negative gearing figures in people’s tax affairs.

In 2014-15, 1.27 million people recorded a rental net loss. This was down slightly from the 1.3 million in the years before and meant that 12.8% of taxpayers were negative gearing.

Again that was down from the previous year and the peak of 2012-13 when 13.4% of taxpayers were recording a rental loss…..

The reason for the drop is mostly because the main way to achieve a loss on your rental investment is through payments on the interest of the mortgage. But, as interest rates fall, that cost also falls, which means it is actually harder to record a loss.

Over the past four years, the number of people claiming a deduction for payments of interest on a rental property have increased but the total amount claimed has fallen…..

The median rent in NSW in the December Quarter of 2014 for housing ranging from 1 bedroom to 4 or more bedrooms was $420-$500 per week. With the median rent being $450-$600 in Greater Sydney, $230-$433 in the Greater Metropolitan Region and $230-$245 in the rest of NSW.

During the same quarter median rents across the NSW Northern Rivers region ranged from $180-$580 per week.

In 2014 the gross rental yield for apartments in Sydney CBD, Paddington, Darling Point, Double Bay, Kirribilli, Rose Bay, Tamarama, Bellevue Hill, Point Piper, Potts Point, and Vaucluse, i.e., the gross return on investment in a apartment if fully rented out, ranged from 2.8 per cent to 5.0 per cent according to Global Property Guide.

Want to know the average rental loss claimed for taxation purposes by landlords in your postcode? Then use this interactive map.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

See that furtive chap in the dark glasses? He's a negative gearer!


Just a reminder of the cost to the rest of us of the out-of-control negative gearing of investment properties.     


The re-analysis of the 2013-14 tax data, the latest available, shows that each negative gearer claimed an average loss of $8722 per year. Seven out of 10 had income before deductions in the top or second-top tax bracket. The average amount of tax saved by each of the 1.2 million negative gearers was $2900 per year.

Spread over the remaining 11.7 million taxpayers, the average cost was $310 each. The total, $3.646 billion, is about as much as the government spent on assistance to jobseekers and vocational training, and twice what it spent on assistance to indigenous Australians.

Haven't heard any negative gearer bragging about this around the barbeque lately.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Tony Abbott MP: the man who lied about a carbon tax is preparing to lie to voters once again


The week former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, confirmed that he had deliberately lied when characterising the Gillard Government’s price on carbon as a "carbon tax", The Sydney Morning Herald reported this:

Tony Abbott has laid out a five-point plan for the Coalition to have a chance at the "winnable" next election, including cutting back immigration and scrapping the Human Rights Commission.

In a major speech in Sydney at the launch of a new book, Making Australia Right, on Thursday evening, Mr Abbott gave the clearest signal yet he believed the Turnbull government is failing to cut through with voters, and that the contest of ideas - and for the soul of the modern Liberal Party - between the current and former prime minister has a long way to run.

Mr Abbott noted nearly 40 per cent of Australians didn't vote for the Coalition or Labor in the 2016 election: "It's easy to see why".

In a sign a return to the leadership was on his radar, Mr Abbott set out ideas on how to take the fight to Labor and win back Coalition voters thinking of defecting to Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

"In short, why not say to the people of Australia: we'll cut the RET [renewable energy target] to help with your power bills; we'll cut immigration to make housing more affordable; we'll scrap the Human Rights Commission to stop official bullying; we'll stop all new spending to end ripping off our grandkids; and we'll reform the Senate to have government, not gridlock?"
He said the next election was winnable for the Coalition, however, "our challenge is to be worth voting for. It's to win back the people who are giving up on us". [my highlighting]

So let’s look at this jumble of potential three-word slogans being readied for the next Coalition federal election campaign.

RET –renewable energy target

In 2014 the Abbott Government ordered a review of RET. This review found that RET tends to lower wholesale electricity prices and that the RET would have almost no impact on consumer prices over the period 2015–2030.

Despite Abbott's downgrading of RET targets when he was prime minister, in 2017 the Turnbull Coalition Government (of which Abbott is a member) continues its support of these targets.

According to the Dept of Industry, Innovation and Science network costs are the biggest factor driving up the cost of electricity and  a large part of these higher costs has been the need to replace or upgrade ageing power infrastructure, as most electricity networks were built throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Housing affordability

In December 2016 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded 11.3 million houses/units/flats purchased by investors for rent or resale by individuals and a further 1.3 million for rent or resale by others. [ABS 5609.0 Housing Finance]

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in June 2015 clearly indicated that purchase of housing stock by investors had increased to almost 23 per cent of all housing stock and, that increased investor activity and strong growth in housing prices were occurring along with an increase in negatively geared investment properties. [RBA, Submission to House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry into Home Ownership]

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) put the matter bluntly in Fuel on the fire: negative gearing, capital gains tax & housing affordability - The tax system at both the federal and state level inflates housing costs, undermines affordability, and distorts the operation of housing markets. Tax settings are not the main reason for excessive growth in home prices, but they are an important part of the problem. They inflate demand for existing properties when the supply of new housing is insufficient to meet demand. Ironically, many public policies that are claimed to improve affordability - such as negative gearing arrangements, Capital Gains Tax breaks for investors, and first home owner grants for purchasers – make the problem worse.

Competition between investor-developers recently saw $1.3 million added to the sale price of an older house at a Sydney metropolitan auction.

Although population growth is a factor in competition for housing stock, nowhere in reputable studies or reports can I find mention of immigration levels significantly contributing to this competition.  Which is not surprising, given that natural population increase and increase through migration do not occur uniformly within Australian states & territories and natural increase will outstrip migration in some states and territories in a given year.

Human Rights Commission

On 26 December 1976 the Fraser Coalition Government announced its intention to establish a Human Rights Commission which would provide orderly and systematic procedures for the promotion of human rights and for ensuring that Australian laws were maintained in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in order that citizens who felt they had been discriminated against under specific Commonwealth laws such as laws relating to discrimination on grounds of race or sex (but excluding laws in the employment area) would be able to have their complaints examined.

The Commission was created in 1981 by an act of the Australian Parliament and later rebirthed as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1986 by another act of the Australian Parliament.

Whilst ever no Commonwealth statute exists which sets out the core rights of Australian citizenship the federal parliament continues to fail to guarantee protection against its own legislative or regulatory excesses.

The Human Rights Commission is one of the few points at which ordinary citizens without considerable financial means can seek redress of a wrong or harm done to them.

No new spending

I simply refer readers to Tony Abbott’s economic record in the slightly less than two years he spent as Australian prime minister, when on his watch economic growth was slowing and living standards were falling.

Senate reform

This is Section 57 of the Australian Constitution which would have to be amended and is required to be taken to a national referendum before reform can occur:

Disagreement between the Houses
                   If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. But such dissolution shall not take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives by effluxion of time.
                   If after such dissolution the House of Representatives again passes the proposed law, with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may convene a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.
                   The members present at the joint sitting may deliberate and shall vote together upon the proposed law as last proposed by the House of Representatives, and upon amendments, if any, which have been made therein by one House and not agreed to by the other, and any such amendments which are affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives shall be taken to have been carried, and if the proposed law, with the amendments, if any, so carried is affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, it shall be taken to have been duly passed by both Houses of the Parliament, and shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's assent.

The last national referendum held in Australia was in 1999 and cost $66,820,894 according to the Australian Electoral Commission for a vote on two questions.

Like 34 of the 44 referendum questions before them these two questions did not carry. In fact the last referendum questions to be carried were in 1977.

Prospect of successful right-wing reform of the Senate? 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A university education and a highly paid job the road to home ownership in Australia for the masses?


The Turnbull Government’s tin ear was on full display in The Sydney Morning  Herald on 21 February 2017:

The Coalition MP tasked with tackling Australia's housing affordability problems has said a "highly paid job" is the "first step" to owning a home.

The federal Victorian MP Michael Sukkar, who is the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and has been charged with finding solutions to the country's housing affordability woes, also pointed to his own experience in purchasing two properties by the age of 35 as an example to struggling homebuyers. 

"We're also enabling young people to get highly paid jobs which is the first step to buying a house, it's not the only answer but it's the first step," Mr Sukkar told Sky News on Monday night.

"I want to see young people like me, leave university, I was a terrible university student but I left university because the economy was so good, I got a great start and I was able to forge a career," he said.

The Liberal MP for Deakin since September 2013 and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, 35 year-old Michael Sven Sukkar LLB, BComm (Deakin), LLM (Melb), who apparently walked straight into well-paying employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers after leaving university and eleven years later owns his own home in Blackburn and a residence in Canberra after selling a second investment property in Fitzroy.

Conveniently the Australian taxpayer is assisting Mr. Sukkar with the mortgage on the possibly negatively geared Canberra property by supplying him with $273.00 for every night he stays in his own residence while parliament is sitting – an est. $11,466 for the 2017 calendar year alone.

Even at a stretch, married to a professionally qualified wife with a business partnership in a multinational firm, Michael Sukkar’s economic progress though life is hardly typical of a couple seeking to buy their first home.

However, typically of a member of the Liberal Party he assumes almost everyone can be fortunate enough to have small business owners as parents, a good education and a well-paying job before securing a parliamentary seat with an excellent superannuation plan.

According to They Vote For You during his almost three and a half years in the Australian Parliament Michael Sukkar has voted for:


And voted against:


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Choice reports on life in Australia's private rental market


‘54% of regional renters are +6% more likely to face discrimination than metro renters if they have kids or pets’


Australia has traditionally been a nation of homeowners. However, as the dream of the quarter-acre block dwindles, more and more of us are renting. Between 1994-5 and 2013-14 the number of Australian households that rent increased from 25.7% to 31%.  While home ownership offers many advantages, renting is not necessarily bad for consumers or society more broadly. Many advanced economies such as Germany have low levels of home ownership. However, Australia lacks many of the protections these countries afford to renters.

Australian renters live in a unique rental market. Australia relies on small investors supported by generous tax concessions to provide nearly all of its private rental housing. Social housing (made up of public housing provided by the states, community housing provided by not for profit companies and Indigenous community housing providers) makes up less than 4% of the housing market, down from over 5% 15 years ago.

Home ownership rates continue to decline in Australia as investors buy a greater share of the housing supply which subsequently increases pressure on renting and lowers owner occupation. Australia now has lower rates of outright ownership than owning with a mortgage, and investors make up nearly half of our home purchases. Housing is subsidised by the federal government via tax concessions. Home owners face no capital gains tax while investors have a capital gains tax discount of 50% and are able to deduct loses incurred through maintenance and interest payments. Some renters are subsidised through Commonwealth Rent Assistance but it is estimated that owners receive an average of $8000 per annum and investors $4000, while renters receive $1000.

These tax arrangements distort the Australian housing market, increase competition for limited supply, inflate house prices and unfairly advantage investors over owner-occupiers and lessors over lessees. This has contributed to a shortage of affordable rental housing available to low-income households of 500,000 dwellings due to frustrated prospective owners displacing other renters from available properties.3 These issues contribute significantly to Australia’s rising rate of homelessness……

As property prices have grown faster in the cities and in certain states such as NSW, Vic and WA, more people in those areas have been entering the rental market. As a result, renters in regional areas are more likely to have been renting for over five years (79%) than those in metro areas (64%). Meanwhile more renters in WA (41%), Vic (40%) and NSW (30%), including Sydney or Melbourne (39%) specifically, have been renting for less than five years than those in Qld (24%), SA (22%) or the other states and territories (28%). This suggests that more Australians have entered the rental market only recently in Vic, WA and metro areas, notably Sydney and Melbourne……

Most renters personally pay between $201 and $400 a week (53%), with 30% of renters paying $200 or less and 16% paying over $400. Unsurprisingly this varies considerably based on location, income and other factors. For example, 49% of renters in metro areas personally pay more than $301 a week in rent versus roughly a quarter in regional areas and 42% of renters overall. This rises to 55% for renters in Australia’s two largest cities – Sydney and Melbourne. Meanwhile, in these cities almost three quarters of renters live in households where the total rent is more than $301 a week. This aligns with the Rental Affordability Index data that found the median rent in Sydney in 2016 was $480 per week……

Many regional areas of Australia are more affordable but some also display unaffordable rents, especially for low and moderate income households. East and west coastal zones often display affordability levels similar to capitals…..

Despite recent talk of an over-supply of rental properties, Australia remains a landlord’s market with three quarters of renters believing that competition between applicants is fierce. As a result, prospective renters don’t feel like they can ask for changes and need to simply take what is on offer (62%), and worry that they’ll need to offer more money if they want to secure a place to live (55%). Renters also feel like the amount of information they are required to give for an application is excessive (60%) and unreasonable (46%). This creates concerns over privacy, with some renters (45%) fearing that their information will not be handled in accordance with the law. While renters largely agree that the application process is transparent (39%), 22% do not……

A sizable minority of renters (8%) are currently living in properties they regard as needing urgent repairs. This includes one in ten of those renting a house and 11% of women. People on a rolling lease are more likely to live in a property in need of urgent repairs (14%) than those on fixed-term leases. Renters in NSW (10%) and SA (12%) are more likely to report needing urgent repairs than those in Vic (6%) and NT, Tas and the ACT (2%). Meanwhile, 30% of renters report requiring non-urgent repairs to their property.

Only a quarter of renters report not having ever experienced any problem with their current property. In fact, many renters have experienced quite severe problems. For example, one in five renters have experienced leaking or flooding while the same amount have had mould that reappears or is difficult to remove – which poses a health risk…..


While many renters have experienced problems, not all have received adequate or prompt responses from their agent or landlord. Of all renters, just under a quarter received no response at all to their request for a repair. Meanwhile 21% had to wait over a week to even get a response about an urgent repair and 23% had to wait over a month to get a response for a nonurgent repair. Not only are renters not getting timely responses, but they can also face adverse consequences when they speak up. 11% of renters copped a rent hike after requesting a repair and 10% said that their landlord or agent became angry after they requested a repair. Some renters have even faced eviction for making a complaint (2%), requesting a repair (2%) or for taking their complaint to a third party like a tribunal or a tenants’ rights organisation (2%). Renters also had experiences with landlords that would access the property unannounced (6%) and take photos during inspections without permission (5%). One in ten renters also reported that they had experiences with routine inspections being arranged at times that were inconvenient…..

The experience of renters differs depending on whether they lease directly through a landlord or through a real estate agent. Of the renters who rent through a landlord and currently need repairs to their property, 75% have raised the repair with their landlord. Eighty-four percent of people renting through a real estate agent have raised their need for a repair. People renting through an agent are much more likely to have raised the issue multiple times (62%) than those renting through a landlord (41%). Overall about a fifth of renters received a positive response (all requested repairs have or will be carried out), regardless of renting through an agent or landlord, with 8% and 7% receiving a negative response respectively. Fourteen percent of those renting through an agent did not receive any response after raising a need for repair, while 10% of those renting through a landlord did not receive any response. And of those renting through a landlord, 64% received a mixed response (having some of the requested repairs completed, others not), compared to 56% of those renting through an agent…..

Half of all renters report having experienced some form of discrimination when looking for a rental property in the last five years. This includes discrimination for having a pet (23%), for receiving government payments (17%), on the basis of age (14%), for having young children (10%) and being a single parent (7%). Discrimination on the basis of race (6%), for needing to use a bond loan (5%), gender (5%), disability (5%) and sexuality (2%) are also experienced, though are less common. Older renters are much less likely to report discrimination. In fact only 20% of renters over 65 reported having experienced discrimination at all. Even renters aged 45-64 were less (43%) likely to report having felt discriminated against. Younger renters under the age of 35 were more likely to say they’ve been discriminated against (55%) – particularly in regard to their age (22%). Men (42%) reported less discrimination than women (56%) overall, though both were as likely to report discrimination based on gender (5%). Location also appears to have an impact, with renters in the NT, Tas and the ACT (41%) less likely to report discrimination and renters in SA (61%) much more likely to.

The impact of income on discrimination is mixed. For example households earning between $70,001 and $100,000 (41%) were less likely to report discrimination, while households earning between $100,001 and $150,000 were more likely to (55%). Fifty-seven percent of households earning less than $35,000 said they had been discriminated against, 62% of households earning $35,001–50,000 and 60% of households earning $50,001–70,000. However, the nature of the discrimination people reported experiencing varied greatly – those on low incomes were much more likely to have faced discrimination for receiving a government payment, for being a single parent, or based on their race or on their disability. Households on higher incomes were more likely to face discrimination for having young kids and having a pet. Renters who have previously had a disagreement with a landlord or agent about bond are the most likely to report discrimination (75%).

Read the full report here.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Call to make Byron Bay rental properties pet friendly - community forum 7 pm 23 November 2016 at RSL


Bliss Communications, media release, 14th November 2016:

Byron Bay To Be First City in Australia To Have Pets Are Welcome Policy

Welfare advocate Karen Justice is leading the way to bring in a Pets Are Welcome Policy to Byron Bay to curb the high number of animals surrendered because of housing restrictions.   

“Sadly 36 percent of cats and dogs that end up in shelters and pounds are there because their owner can’t find pet friendly accommodation,” said Ms Justice.

“The horrifying statistic is 20,000 family pets per year are surrendered to the RSPCA alone because landlords say no to animals,” she said.

“As at July 2016 Australia’s major cities and surrounding suburbs have the following amount of “pets allowed rentals” as compared to total available rentals – Sydney – 2%, Melbourne 1%, Brisbane 8%, Darwin 5%, Perth 4%, Adelaide 4%, and Hobart 12%.”

“Renting in Byron Bay with a pet is almost impossible and in extreme cases people have ended up homeless because they can’t part with their pet.”

“I’m forming a Community Council to try and educate others about the benefits of having pet friendly accommodation.”

“I’m inviting real estate agents, strata management, and local council members to be part of this Community Council to put Byron Bay on the map for making a difference in animal welfare.”

“The Community Council can help re-educate landlords about the benefits of pet friendly accommodation and lobby the NSW Government to introduce strata by laws that welcome pets rather than discourage them.”

“Not allowing pets into homes only leads to dogs and cats unnecessarily being killed and their owners left distraught because they have lost a loved one.”

“I want Byron Bay to show the rest of Australia that it can be done – an across the board Pets Are Welcome Policy – to see a huge drop in animals left at shelters.”

“It’s a bold plan but something has to be done or more and more animals will be killed because a landlord won’t let them into their homes.”

Ms Justice said the benefits of pet friendly accommodation are :

1.     Saving Lives : Allowing pets into homes means owners don’t need to surrender them to shelters and pounds which means less animals are put to sleep.
2.     Health Benefits : There is scientific proof having a pet makes people happy and healthier.
3.     Rental Longevity : Tenants with pets tend to stay in rental properties longer saving landlords time and money rather than face uncertainty of securing another rental property.

Ms Justice believes if one city can do it then the rest of Australia might just follow.

A community forum is being held on Wednesday 23 November 2016 between 7pm and 9pm at Byron Bay RSL 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Facebook allows real estate agents to place online advertisements with undisclosed racial exclusions


ProPublica, 28 October 2016:
Imagine if, during the Jim Crow era, a newspaper offered advertisers the option of placing ads only in copies that went to white readers.
That’s basically what Facebook is doing nowadays.
The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.
Here is a screenshot of a housing ad that we purchased from Facebook’s self-service advertising portal:
The ad we purchased was targeted to Facebook members who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people. (Here’s the ad itself.)
When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal "to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits the “printing or publication of notices or advertisements indicating prohibited preference, limitation, specification or discrimination” in employment recruitment.
Facebook’s business model is based on allowing advertisers to target specific groups — or, apparently to exclude specific groups — using huge reams of personal data the company has collected about its users. Facebook’s microtargeting is particularly helpful for advertisers looking to reach niche audiences, such as swing-state voters concerned about climate change. ProPublica recently offered a tool allowing users to see how Facebook is categorizing them. We found nearly 50,000 unique categories in which Facebook places its users.
Facebook says its policies prohibit advertisers from using the targeting options for discrimination, harassment, disparagement or predatory advertising practices.
“We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law,” said Steve Satterfield, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook. “We take prompt enforcement action when we determine that ads violate our policies."
Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs. For instance, he said, an advertiser “might run one campaign in English that excludes the Hispanic affinity group to see how well the campaign performs against running that ad campaign in Spanish. This is a common practice in the industry.”
He said Facebook began offering the “Ethnic Affinity” categories within the past two years as part of a “multicultural advertising” effort.
Satterfield added that the “Ethnic Affinity” is not the same as race — which Facebook does not ask its members about. Facebook assigns members an “Ethnic Affinity” based on pages and posts they have liked or engaged with on Facebook.
When we asked why “Ethnic Affinity” was included in the “Demographics” category of its ad-targeting tool if it’s not a representation of demographics, Facebook responded that it plans to move “Ethnic Affinity” to another section.
Facebook declined to answer questions about why our housing ad excluding minority groups was approved 15 minutes after we placed the order.
By comparison, consider the advertising controls that the New York Times has put in place to prevent discriminatory housing ads. After the newspaper was successfully sued under the Fair Housing Act in 1989, it agreed to review ads for potentially discriminatory content before accepting them for publication.