Created by SGS Economics, the new Rental Affordability Index report has revealed that renters nationwide are worse off now than pre-pandemic, outlining the severity of the national housing crisis.

Those in the regions are as worse off as those in metropolitan areas, with tree and sea changes made by former city residents placing pressure on regional housing markets. Sydney’s affordability declined by 13 percent, while Melbourne and Perth each dropped by 10 percent in affordability. 

The scores for each region utilises the housing stress rule – 30 percent of a household income – and uses that benchmark with average incomes and median rents to create a score between 50 and 150, with a lower number indicating less affordability. 

"The main takeaway really is it's now a national problem," Ellen Witte, Principal at SGS Economics, tells the ABC.

"In the past it was primarily an issue that was urgent in the big cities, but we now see that in all the regional areas. It's only getting worse because we know that income levels in regions are lower, so to some extent the regions are worse off than the capital cities."

Regional Queensland is now regarded as the least affordable of the regional areas, with the Sunshine and Gold Coasts rated as “unaffordable to severely unaffordable” by the report, resulting in a score between 50 and 100 for each. Rental prices in Perth have increased by 50 percent in the past three years, while incomes have only increased by 12 percent in that time.

Public housing waitlists are now at a critical point, with many elderly facing homelessness. The Housing Australia Future Fund is regarded as a solution, but not in the immediate term, with a slew of affordable dwellings needing to be built. Witte believes an increase to the Federal Government’s rental assistance schemes will assist in providing relief.

"We need to make sure that we have some control about how much rents are going to increase," she says.

National Shelter CEO Emma Greenhalgh believes property investor concessions must be curtailed if the housing situation is going to improve.

"It is getting to the point where if you have a property, it is easier to continue to get properties — you know, get up to your third, fourth and fifth property," she says. 

"But there are households who can't even get a property.

"We have shifted so far to housing being about wealth creation and the commodification of housing that we've completely moved so far beyond housing being about shelter."

To read the report in full, click here.