Like many of your readers, three articles these past weeks particularly caught my eye. The first: “Cadia announces ‘hundreds of jobs’ to be created in $685 million expansion”; the second: “Rental forums to help property owners capitalise on Cadia mine expansion”: and the third: “Rental prices up six per cent with houses and units in short supply.” For the 30% of the Orange population, or some 4,000 households who rent their homes, this is important news.
As many readers will know, wage increases are not keeping pace with rent increases, and Orange is becoming increasingly unaffordable. At the last census in 2016, 11.9% of Orange renters were in rental stress; almost the same levels as in Sydney at 14.6%. Rental stress refers to households who are paying more than 30% of their income in housing costs. This percentage is highest amongst low to moderate income households.
The pressure on the rental market has been growing over the last few years for two main reasons: the loss of rental units to the short-term rental tourism market, such as Stayz or AirBnB, and the increased demand for rental properties from families who would normally purchase a property – but cannot because of rocketing property prices. This pressure may now be compounded by a mining expansion, where landlords will apparently be encouraged to capitalise on this growth.
This may have two immediate impacts: firstly, large numbers of families may face higher rents and have less to spend in the local economy, and secondly, the loss of properties as landlords seek to let their properties to higher waged mine workers. If these are properties currently being let to the tourism market there will be wider effects on tourism trade across the city.
Orange is a great city, with a strong sense of community and strong health, mining, government and tourism based economies. What makes Orange a great place for businesses is also having an impact on the ability of families to continue to afford to live in Orange. For low and moderate income households, having secure and affordable homes is a solid and necessary foundation for them to thrive, with the money left over after their rent is paid to meet the essentials and save for a deposit for their first owned home. What is needed to underpin the growth of Orange, maintain our tourism sector and avoid putting many families under more financial pressure, is to take the pressure off the rental sector.