Almost half of young people in housing stress; 15 per cent of Australians struggling to pay rent or mortgage

Younger people and renters were more likely to be in housing stress. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Younger people and renters were more likely to be in housing stress. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

The number of Australian experiencing housing stress almost doubled between April and May, and one in four renters reported being unable to pay their rent on time, new research tracking the effects of coronavirus on Australians has found.

Younger people were also much more likely to be in housing stress than older people, with nearly half of 18-to-24-year-olds reporting not being able to pay their rent or mortgage on time.

Australian National University has been surveying Australians throughout the pandemic, and the latest data from 3200 people surveyed showed the proportion of people unable to pay rent or their mortgage on time jumped from 6.9 per cent in April to 15.1 per cent in May.

Of that, 8 per cent of Australian reported not being able to pay their rent on time, and 8.7 per cent reported not being able to pay their mortgage on time, but there are more mortgage-holders than renters in Australia, meaning those renting were more likely to be in housing stress.

The bigger hit to renters was could be explained by the socioeconomic differences between renters and mortgage-holders, the study found.

Being young, in a low-paid job and renting made people much more likely to be increasing housing stress due to the pandemic.

"There is a very clear relationship between change in income between February and May 2020 and not being able to pay mortgage or rent on time due to a lack of money," the study found.

The study's co-author and director of the university's Centre for Social Research and Methods, Matthew Gray, said the data for young people in particular was concerning, with 44 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 unable to pay their rent on time.

About a quarter of those aged 25 to 34 and renting reported not being able to pay rent on time, and 27.2 per cent of those between 35 and 44 who were renting reported not being able to pay on time.

"Young Australians are still more likely to be in housing stress once income and socioeconomic status is controlled for, suggesting that there is more to housing stress than just income for this group," professor Gray said.

"This is because their accumulated savings and wealth are likely to be low."

The study found that these effects on young people lined up with employment data showing those between the ages of 15 and 24 were hit hard by job losses due to the pandemic.

There was less of an age-correlation with mortgage holders who experienced housing stress.

According to the survey results, those with mortgages have had more luck with getting assistance than those who are renting, with just over one in five people with mortgages being able to reduce or freeze their payments.

Just over one in 10 renters were able to reduce or freeze their payments.


This story Almost half of young people in housing stress, study finds first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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