Landlords and property developers are being encouraged to offer more flexible leases, to keep house prices from spiralling out of control, as the country prepares to welcome its first wave of new homes in the next two years.
The Government’s first big-ticket property auction has been postponed until next year as a result, but the Government’s housing policy group, the Australia Institute, has recommended more flexibility for the property industry.
The new National Housing Strategy recommends “more flexibility in the timing of leases”, including “changing the type of lease that is offered to reflect the availability of affordable housing”, and for “more information on the lease structure for properties with less than 50 dwellings”.
But the Institute’s recommendations are only part of the Government effort to “help reduce housing affordability in Australia”.
“Housing affordability is an issue that has received a great deal of attention over the last two years,” a spokesperson for the Australia Initiative said.
“This new strategy will provide the Government with a framework for helping address affordability in the housing sector, and is the first step in this important direction.”
“We know that while there is a need for more flexibility in leasing, the right mix of incentives and incentives that provide the right flexibility to keep prices affordable for tenants and owners is critical.”
The strategy’s proposed changes to leases are broadly aimed at keeping prices in check, but some of the proposals are not particularly new.
For example, landlords will be able to offer a 30-year fixed term lease to tenants, with a minimum annual rent of $300,000, rather than a variable term lease that will require annual payments of $150,000.
The Residential Tenancies Board has also proposed changes that will let landlords increase the maximum amount of time a tenant can remain on a property for an annual rent increase of up to 20 per cent.
“These are things that are very well thought out,” the spokesperson said.
The Housing Industry Association of Australia said the Government needs to start by taking more measures to keep home prices in line.
“The Government needs a strong plan to stop this rising housing cost bubble, which is why the new National Building Code is needed,” it said.
But the spokesperson for Australia Institute said the changes needed to be implemented now, rather to wait until the next property boom.
“We are confident that the Government is taking a responsible approach to housing affordability, so we believe the time is now to take some action now,” she said.
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