Average incomes on the coast are too low for local rents

NORTHERN NSW's coastal local government areas of Ballina, Byron Bay, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour and Tweed dominate a list of the least affordable regional NSW in which to rent according to a new report released today.

The Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, by Compass Housing, takes a new approach to the measurement of housing affordability for renters. 

The report establishes the amount of additional income a typical renting household needs to avoid housing stress on various types of dwellings in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

This amount is referred to as the Affordable Housing Income Gap (AHIG).

Byron Shire tops the list with households needing 48% of the median income to afford the median rent.

The median weekly income earned by households in the Shire is $,1218 but the median rent is $590 per week - $60 per week more than the Sydney median of $530.

With housing stress kicking in when rents reach 30% of income, Byron households need an extra $749 a week in their pay packets to avoid housing stress.

The five North Coast LGAs fill the top six positions on the list with only the South Coast LGA of Shoalhaven coming in at number five, above Coffs Harbour.


Median Rent* (All Dwellings)

Income* to avoid housing stress

Median household income*

% of income required to pay median rent














Clarence Valley






Tweed Shire












Coffs Harbour






*Weekly figures

Compass Housing spokesperson Martin Kennedy said the findings proved housing stress isn't just a problem for low-income households.

"Even working people are struggling to afford suitable rental properties," Mr Kennedy said.

"This can have a real impact on living standards because people in housing stress are less able to pay for other essentials like food, utilities, insurance, healthcare, childcare, and debt repayments.

"The steady decline of housing affordability for renters is part of a broader housing crisis driven by a combination of low interest rates, preferential tax treatment for investors, rapid population growth, artificial rationing of land supply, high transfer duties and, a prolonged failure to invest in social and affordable housing."

The report recommends the creation of a national housing plan with initiatives crossing all levels of government. They include:

  • The construction of 500,000 social and affordable housing dwellings in the next 10 years,
  • Reviewing the tax and transfer system to strike a fairer balance between the level of support provided to investors, first home buyers and renters
  • Reforming state tenancy laws to provide greater security of tenure for renters and decrease demand for social housing.

Compass Housing is a NSW-based not for profit, community housing provider that manages more than 4,500 properties in NSW, Queensland and New Zealand.

The report is available here.

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