COTA SA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (the Act).
Secure housing plays a critical role in the health and wellbeing of older South Australians, but a variety of factors mean that it is rapidly moving out of reach for an increasing number of the population group. As home ownership and access to public housing decreases, an increasing number of older South Australians rely on private rental housing. As of 2021, 20% of older (55+) Australian households are renters.
Through our survey of older people’s experiences in the current rental market, 89% of respondents are concerned about housing availability in South Australia and 81% are personally struggling with housing issues or are aware of someone who is.
Affordability, security of tenure, accessibility, adaptability and ageing in community are critical considerations for older people when it comes to their housing. A survey respondent explains, “affordability is self-explanatory, but security and quality of housing are important for liveability, community connections, access to transport and services, and both physical and mental health.” With an increasing number of older people relying on the private rental market as a long-term housing option, the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 is an important vehicle to improve the viability of the private rental market for older South Australians.
COTA SA acknowledges that the rights and needs of landlords must also be protected through the Residential Tenancies Act 1995. Many older people own investment properties as part of their retirement portfolio and have a right to derive an income from those properties. A balance must be struck to address the basic human need for secure, stable accommodation without unreasonable expectations or demands on landlords.