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Australia’s first Rental Vulnerability Index has revealed renters in regional areas of Queensland, particularly those north of the Sunshine Coast and inland of the Gold Coast, are suffering the highest incidence of rent vulnerability.

The state’s first official Queensland Rental Vulnerability Index (RVI), launched today, was developed by UNSW's City Futures Research Centre in partnership with Tenants Queensland. 

The RVI incorporates a red stress heat map that shows a band of postcodes through Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and Gympie local government areas have the highest concentration of vulnerable renters.

There is another band of postcodes with higher concentrations of vulnerability to the south and west of Brisbane.

The RVI defines ‘rental vulnerability’ as the vulnerability of people to problems that may make their rental housing unaffordable, insecure or inappropriate thereby indicating a need for tenant advisory services.

‘People’ indicators of vulnerability include tenants with a disability, unemployed tenants, single parent tenants, indigenous tenants, young tenants (18-24yrs), older tenants (65yrs and above) and tenants with lower education.

The exciting aspect to this tool is that it goes beyond just a simple measure of affordability – it’s not just about income types and how expensive the suburb is that you live in.

'Housing’ indicators are defined by rental stress, tenancy dispute applications, social housing tenants (public and community), residential services (boarding houses) and manufactured home sites (residential parks including caravan parks).

City Futures Research Centre Chief Investigator Dr Laurence Troy said this work contributed to a wider body of research that showed that disadvantage was increasingly a suburban or regional problem.

“The exciting aspect to this tool is that it goes beyond just a simple measure of affordability – it’s not just about income types and how expensive the suburb is that you live in,” said Dr Troy.

“This index looks at a lot of other social factors that impact on people’s lives to highlight the services that are needed to assist people whose personal circumstances may be difficult and who may require advice or legal assistance.”

Speaking at the launch, Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said the RVI showed many vulnerable households had been pushed out to the urban fringe and regional areas in search of cheaper housing and were still facing rental stress, with fewer opportunities to improve their circumstances over the long-term.

Ms Carr said the index would play a vital role in identifying the areas of most vulnerability and the support services needed.

“In its basic form, the RVI will help inform our own service delivery and enable us to track trends but at a higher level, it will educate government and broader network of community service providers with an understanding of the social and economic pressures affecting Queensland renters.

“These indicators that present definitive numbers make a convincing case for providing tenant advisory services to address rental vulnerability in the regions.

“While the indicators do not show up as strongly in Brisbane, this does not mean that renters in the city are not also experiencing the same rent stress as regional counterparts.

“The concern for Tenants Queensland is that when you get a high vulnerability index in regional areas where renters are becoming concentrated in locations and there is limited social infrastructure, it can lead to more social problems down the track.”