The Australian Rental Crisis Is Gendered — & Here Are The Figures To Prove It

Illustration by Maya Brasnovic
Australia has long had a housing affordability problem, but the current rental crisis across the country is the worst we've seen in decades.
A lack of rental housing coupled with increased competition — with often up to a hundred people at an inspection — has pushed rental costs up, and it's women that are hit hardest.
The widely used housing affordability standard recommends spending no more than 30% of your income on your rent. However recent national figures show that women not only spending significantly more than 30% of their salary on rent, but also a significantly higher percentage than men.
Sydney continues to be one of the most expensive cities to rent in Australia, with CoreLogic’s Quarterly Rental Review for the last three months of 2022 revealing that the median weekly rental price in the NSW capital is $679.
With women earning an average of $1,678 per week, those in Sydney would be spending around 40% of their salary on rent. Meanwhile, men earn an average of $2,003 per week, and spend around 33% of their income in a median Sydney rental. With Canberra's average rental cost being $681 a week, women are spending 41% of their salary on rental housing, while men are spending 34%.
Going up north, rental prices have also crept up in Brisbane. With the average weekly rental cost of $588, women are forking up to 35% of their salary on rent, while men are only paying 29%.
Rising interest rates, a lack of housing and increased demand have contributed to the current rental and housing crisis that experts say has made it harder to find a home than ever before.
With the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) once again raising interest rates for the 10th time this week, the increased pressure on homeowners facing mortgages is being passed down to renters.
According to the PropTrack Market Insight Report, the chances of finding a place with rent under $400 a week have just halved. According to the report, the share of total properties listed for rent on in February for less than $400 per week fell to 17.6% — from 42.5% in March 2020.
"The rental market, particularly in Queensland but in fact right across Australia, is in a pretty bad way," Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute director Michael Fotheringham told the ABC.
"It is a very tough situation at the moment. There simply isn't enough rental housing to go around and really intense competition for every property."
The economic impacts of the gender pay and superannuation gap impact women in various ways throughout their lives, and the gender difference with rental affordability only compounds this. Pair this with the fact that women are more likely to become homeless due to domestic violence, and there's certainly a case to be made for more affordable and safe housing for women in Australia.
"Women face some of the biggest housing affordability challenges in our community," said Charlotte Dillon, General Manager Community Housing at YWCA Australia, an organisation focused on gender equality initiatives.
“We can’t ignore that the housing crisis is a gendered crisis. All women must be able to afford the cost of a suitable and safe house, food and other essentials."
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