FOR RELEASE: October 2020

A tale of two homes: Australia’s housing market divides the population


New consumer data released today by the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) investigating the experience of consumers in the month of September reveals a stark contrast in the experiences of renters and mortgage holders trying to maintain their financial, emotional and physical wellbeing during the pandemic. Higher levels of financial stress are bearing down on rental households compared to homeowners with a mortgage, exposing deep cracks in the Australian housing market.


CPRC’s research initiative Consumers and COVID-19: from crisis to recovery is collecting and analysing the experiences, behaviours, expectations and challenges of Australians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with monthly quantitative research from May to October.

The September data raises serious concerns about the future debt of renters as almost three quarters are taking financial steps such as dipping into savings, using credit/Buy Now Pay Later and accessing their super early, just to cover household costs.

“Despite COVID-19 underscoring our most basic need for safe, secure and affordable homes to weather this crisis, Australia’s housing market continues to divide the nation. Renters shouldn’t be living as second class citizens – if we’re all in this together, the burden must be fairly shared.” said CPRC CEO Lauren Solomon.

In addition to the disproportionately high financial stress burdening renters, they have also not had the same freedom as homeowners to make their living arrangements more manageable under COVID-19 restrictions. Adjustments such as renovating a space to make room for parents and children working from home, or welcoming a pet are privileges not afforded to most Australian renters.

“Victoria has led the way on both COVID support measures, as well as giving renters more rights earlier this year to welcome pets into homes – this can be a really important way to make a house a home, as well as provide some very welcome company during these difficult times.”

Across the nation, support packages for tenants have provided welcome relief. More can be done to closely monitor their effectiveness and to ensure that they’re reaching more tenants in need – especially those who may be experiencing difficulties for the first time.

September data showed more renters sought payment assistance from landlords (6%) than mortgagors sought help from their bank (4%). And only 2% of renters reported receiving proactive payment assistance from property managers or landlords, compared to 5% of homeowners being offered payment support from banks.

“When renters receive adequate protections and financial support, everybody wins – landlords, investors and every homeowner that cares about their property value. We need to let go of outdated approaches that no longer serve us in building a more resilient community and economy in recovery.” said Ms Solomon.

“As governments turn efforts towards rebuilding our economy, a sustained focus on the things that will improve the wellbeing, trust and confidence of all Australian consumers needs to be front and centre. A home is a home, no matter whether you’re paying a mortgage, or the rent.”

CPRC’s research initiative Consumers and COVID-19: from crisis to recovery is collecting and analysing the experiences, behaviours, expectations and challenges of Australians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with monthly quantitative surveys conducted by Roy Morgan Research from May to October.

Download the full report and monthly briefings

Consumer Policy Research Centre CEO, Lauren Solomon is available for interview on request.

For more information: Please contact Darren Saffin 0411 089 209 or Jodie Artis 0414 699 186 at Progressive PR for interviews or further data sets.