Notes on the data: Housing/ Transport

Low income households with rental stress, 2016


Policy context:  The 2011 Census showed that around a fifth of Australian households (23%) rented their home from a private landlord. As it is almost impossible for all but the most disadvantaged families to access public housing, renting privately has become the only housing option for low-income households. For many low income households that rent, shortages of affordable rental housing, rising rents, and tight vacancy rates are factors that exacerbate their position and move them closer to the poverty line [1].

A family or individual is considered to be in housing stress if they are in a low-income bracket and pay more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage repayments. Acute housing stress occurs when 50% of income is spent on housing. High numbers of families are experiencing housing stress, and are at increasing risk of homelessness. In 2007, half of low-income households in the private rental market were estimated to be experiencing housing stress, and a third of those were in housing crisis [2].


  1. Yates J, Gabriel M. Housing affordability in Australia. Sydney: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute; 2006.
  2. St Vincent de Paul Society (SVdPS). Don’t dream, it’s over: housing stress in Australia’s private rental market. Canberra: SVdPS; 2007.

Notes:  The data comprise households in the bottom 40% of the income distribution (those with less than 80% of median equivalised income), spending more than 30% of their income on rent, as a proportion of rented private dwellings.

Income is equivalised; equivalised household income per week can be viewed as an indicator of the economic resources available to a standardised household. For a lone person household it is equal to household income. For a household comprising more than one person, it is an indicator of the household income that would be needed by a lone person household to enjoy the same level of economic wellbeing.

Income varies by State/ Territory: NSW, $721; Vic, $705; Qld, $704; SA, $631; WA, $785; Tas, $589; NT, $1,004; ACT, $1,093.

The data exclude the population in the 8.9% of private dwellings for which rental stress data was not recorded (the proportion excluded was calculated based on the Australian data).



Geography:  Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Households in the bottom 40% of income distribution (those with less than 80% of median equivalised income), spending more than 30% of income on rent


Denominator:  Rented private dwellings


Detail of analysis:  Percent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2016 (unpublished data).


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