Coffs Harbour rate rise sparks rental concerns

A LEADING social welfare organisation has slammed a contentious rate increase for Coffs Harbour and its potential impact on the region's rental market.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal last month approved a 16.52% residential rate rise for the next two financial years to fund a $6.56million infrastructure backlog.

Anglicare North Coast chief executive Estelle Graham said the rate rise could place rental households under increased pressure.

"A rise in rates has to be reflective in rental prices and with landlord costs going up, there could be a temptation to pass that on to tenants," Ms Graham said.

"There may not be immediate increases but it is absolutely essential for (people to have) access to safe and affordable housing."

Citing a recent rental affordability study that showed the number of available rental properties on the mid-north coast declined in early 2015, Ms Graham said a rise in rates could place added stress on an already restricted market.

"For a family living on a budget, when the cost of rents rise, something else has to be given up," she said.

"Because of the pressure of high rents in the mid and north coast, we're already hearing stories of people going without meals, medications and activities - which can ultimately lead to family breakdowns.

"We continue to urge our governments to implement solutions that will result in a real difference to some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our community."

An independent report examining ratepayer affordability in Coffs Harbour showed residents were less likely to afford rate increases compared to neighbouring local government areas.

The report, undertaken by Western Research Institute, was commissioned by Coffs Harbour City Council as part of its application to IPART.

Coffs Harbour City Council has a rates hardship policy in place to provide assistance to home owners who are experiencing genuine difficulties with the payment of their rates.

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