13 October 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Human Services on the topic of rental affordability.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: A survey released yesterday by the Anti-Poverty Network of South Australia has painted a grim snapshot of the renting experience in South Australia. The report found, among other things, that one in four people have less then $14 a day, or $100 a week, after paying their rent; 77 per cent said the cost of their rent often impacted on their ability to pay their bills on time or to eat; only 7 per cent received a rent freeze or reduction during the pandemic; and 46 per cent said their house did not have adequate heating or cooling. My questions to the minister are:
- What action will the government be taking in relation to the report?
- Will the minister advocate at cabinet for rent capping and rent subsidies to support people who are struggling to pay their rent during this economic crisis?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. Indeed, the matters of rental and issues in the rental market to a large degree rest with Attorney-General, who has responsibility for CBS, so some of those questions I will take on notice and see what response I can provide for him.
In terms of my responsibilities as Minister for Human Services under the SA Housing Authority, of course we have the Private Rental Assistance Program by which people can access bond and rent in advance. When they go to the housing office—or they can do this online these days—they can be assessed as to what is considered an affordable rental price for them, and they can be provided with that assistance.
People who are Centrelink beneficiaries in the private rental market also have access to commonwealth rental assistance. We saw, as all honourable members would know, legislation here during COVID to provide freezes in the rental market and some additional measures through the SACAT process to assist people who might be experiencing a potential hardship. Centrelink certainly provided support for people through the COVID process.
Some of the commentators are certainly remarking that the rental market is easing, not quite the same really tight situation we have seen. Of course, within our own public housing people's rent is capped at their income, rather than being exposed to the private rental market, so people have that particular financial advantage through being in a Housing Authority property. The other matters the honourable member has raised I will take on notice and bring back a response.
18 November 2021
Additional answer received
In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (13 October 2021).
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I have been advised:
There are a number of endorsed protections within the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (South Australia) aimed at helping landlords and tenants whose incomes have been affected.
In the first instance, tenants impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to work with their landlord.