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Question: Housing Vacancy Rates

5 July 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Human Services on the topic of vacant properties.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The latest census data shows that 83,821 privately owned units, apartments and houses were unoccupied in August last year. While these properties sit vacant, over 17,000 South Australians are on the waiting list for social housing and 3,000 of those are listed as category 1. If only a quarter of these currently vacant houses were released into the housing market, either as rentals or for sale, it would add 20,000 homes to the supply.

The government has committed to building just 400 new social homes, but it will take time for them to be built. My question to the minister therefore is: given the immediacy of the housing crisis gripping the state and the huge number of currently vacant properties, what does the government plan to do to entice private property owners to release these properties back into the housing market?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his very important question. I will refer that to the relevant minister in another place and bring back a reply.


In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (5 July 2022).


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Human Services has advised:

The state Labor government is taking action by investing $177.5 million of extra funding into public housing that will build 400 new homes, upgrade 350 vacant properties so they can be homes again for people in need and undertake maintenance on 3,000 more. We are also working with federal Labor on its $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund that will deliver 30,000 social and affordable homes nation-wide.

With regard to vacant private dwellings reported in the Census, the raw number dropped by around 8,500 between 2016 and 2021 and the percentage also dropped from 12.6 per cent to 10.8 per cent. The vacancy rate is much higher in regional areas—around 20 per cent compared to 7 per cent in Greater Adelaide. Many of the regional homes are in holiday locations – like Robe that had almost 60 per cent vacant dwellings on Census night—without easy access to services, employment and transport.