The housing shortage in Queensland is being reviewed by the State Government and non-government stakeholders who came together for a Housing Summit in October 2022. It addressed the acute shortage and rising cost of housing across the state and especially in South East Queensland which has attracted 90% of the 750,000 people that have migrated to Queensland in the 10 years to 2021.
Housing supply and affordability is a complex issue. It requires close collaboration by all parties to provide sustainable solutions. The stories of people suffering homelessness is tragic. This was detailed in a recent Four Corners story.
Unfortunately the track record of government programs to address housing affordability and rental conditions, is not great.
Markets get out of balance all the time. In fact, they are rarely in balance. They are constantly adjusting to the myriad of ever-changing inputs. The housing market is especially challenging given the time delay for the private sector to meet the market demand. Ironically, governments cause much of the delay which retards the ability for the market to respond to the demand.
One of the main reasons it gets out of balance (on the undersupply side) is because of the time delays and physical constraints imposed by planning controls and the long development approval process. Typically, a Government summit results in more regulation and restraints – not less unfortunately.
If governments were able to fast track the process required for the private sector to bring housing stock to market, it would dramatically minimise such acute shortages. Empowering the private sector however is a difficult thing to sell politically, so this option is seldom chosen.
Tenants Queensland have prepared a Paper to the Housing Summit which amongst other ideas proposes.
- Limiting rent increases to CPI and prohibiting offers of rent above the advertised price.
- An improved bond return process and a property to property bond transfer option.
- A requirement for landlords to be licenced or registered.
- More Government funded social housing.
Measures such as these, drive private landlords out of the market. In turn, it exacerbates the rental market shortage and pushes rents up further. They represent short term remedies and often have unintended consequences. They are also incredibly expensive for governments, as they must continually fund housing for years to fill the private sector shortfall which is disincentivised by government regulations.