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Housing Trust Rent

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:19): My question is to the Minister for Human Services. Can the minister advise how the new Housing Trust rentals compare with rentals of comparable properties in the private sector; and what rates and taxes are Housing Trust tenants required to pay in addition to their rent?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:20): I thank the honourable member for his question. In relation to the second part, which is, what are the rates and taxes Housing Trust tenants pay? They do pay water rates and other utility costs. They obviously do not pay taxes on their properties which homeowner-occupiers do not either—

The Hon. I.K. Hunter: Private renters don't either.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes, that's correct. People in private rental don't pay land tax either so it is just utilities costs.

The Hon. J.A. Darley: Comparable rents.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Comparable rents. Rents in the private sector are a lot higher so the majority of our tenants in relation to the policy of 25 per cent or market rent, whichever is the lesser, are paying 25 per cent of their household income rather than the market rates. In country areas, that is not necessarily the case because property values aren't as high. The market rates are set by the Valuer-General but, generally speaking, there is a large number of people who are in rental stress in South Australia.

I think that figures have gone up from memory from 22 per cent to 39 per cent of people who are finding themselves in that rental stress situation, and those people are in the private sector. Those include people who are entirely dependent on Centrelink benefits. For them, they can be one or two pays away from falling into difficulty and then they require assistance through the homelessness scheme.

A lot of that is to do with utilities costs, particularly electricity. Foodbank, when I met with them, have explained to me that when people receive their utility bills, they often see more people coming into their facilities for assistance through that service. But there is a large cohort of people who are in the private rental system who are not in public or social housing, who are in a great deal of difficulty, who also need to be considered in this whole debate.