Its no secret that Australia is currently in the midst of a rental crisis. With many residential properties sitting empty due to foreign ownership, a spiralling cost of living, and general lack of affordable housing, renters have been feeling the squeeze for years already.
Pensioners in particular have been the most affected by this crisis. With few options to increase their income, they have had to bear the brunt of the rising rent costs and a declining quality of housing as well. Many are now paying exorbitant prices for houses and units that are not up to scratch.
Regional pensioners are even worse off. Many retirees are moving to regional areas after selling their houses in major cities. While these retirees are giving regional Australian economy a significant lifeline, they are unfortunately also driving up accommodation prices for retirees a who are long term residents of the area.
Annemarrie King has experienced this struggle more than most. Speaking to Channel 9 News, she revealed that she will soon be forced to spend almost half her fortnightly aged pension on her two-bedroom unit in South Tamworth when her lease is renewed in December.
The 69-year-old pensioner suffers from ailing health as well and requires 24/7 oxygen, which means her power bills are $200 a month even after government subsidies. King has recently received a written notice from her real estate agent that she will have to pay an extra $45 a week to bring her rent in line with the current market rates.
This means that her rent will increase from $235 per week to $280. With her limited means and very few options for other housing, King has said that she will have to simply cop the rent increase.
“I sent them an email and I said I would accept the increase because I had no choice, but that I was doing it under duress,” she told 9 News.
She is already thinking of cutting back on necessities to be able to make rent.
“I get Meals on Wheels, because as well as the lung problems, I have bad arthritis so I can’t do a lot of my own cooking anymore,” she said.
“I use Oxley Community Transport to go out and socialise because I don’t have a family here, so I’ll probably have to cut back on that, and I’ll probably have to cut back on groceries as well. In rural areas, because of the cost of fuel and transport, the cost of groceries here and services in general are high. So your dollar doesn’t go very far anymore,” she further elaborated.
“The pension should at least be consistent with what’s happening with real inflation, a realistic and practical review of what the real cost of living is and to make sure the pension is in line with that,” Grice said.
“We also want indexation of the Commonwealth rent assistance to keep pace with these rental increases that are coming through. Because by the time they pay rent, it doesn’t leave them with a lot to pay for what is now high fuel prices and groceries,” he added.