PM reveals rent rise restrictions, ambitious new building targets

National Cabinet has agreed to introduce a raft of measures aimed at helping renters and easing the housing supply shortage, upping its five year home building plan by 200,000 dwellings and placing a limit on the frequency of rent increases.

Anthony Albanese headshot.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has labelled increased housing supply a government priority. (Image source:

A national cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders has announced a raft of measures aimed at relieving housing crisis pressures, including a limitation on the frequency of rent increases.

A new target of 1.2 million new homes to be built over five years from mid-2024 represents an increase of 200,000 above the National Housing Accord figure set last year.

The housing crisis was the main priority of the cabinet meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday (16 August), with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledging that boosting housing supply was the key to alleviating the crisis.

“The updated target will help align supply with expected demand over the next five years, and when linked with Commonwealth infrastructure funding, will produce more neighbourhoods and communities that have the services they need,” the PM said.

Mr Albanese agreed to offer an additional $3 billion sweetener for states and territories if they achieve more than their share of the one million well-located homes target under the accord.

National Cabinet announced that it would move towards a national standard of no more than one rent increase per year for a tenant in the same property across fixed and ongoing agreements.

Mr Albanese added that the different state and territory jurisdictions would seek national consistency on establishing grounds for eviction and phasing in minimal rental property standards.

A new blueprint was also announced to reform national planning laws that will include measures to cut red tape, fast-track property approvals and change zoning laws.

Greens remain a Government obstacle

While the Government claimed the moves were a major win for the country’s almost 8 million renters, The Greens, who still oppose Labor’s signature housing bill, the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF), said the measures did not go far enough.

They had sought a two-year rent freeze and rent caps and are likely to fiercely oppose the new deal between the federal government and the states and territories.

“Today the government just spat in the face of the nearly 8 million people in this country who rent,” Greens senator Max Chandler-Mather said.

“This is a smoke-and-mirrors announcement designed to make it look like Labor has done something meaningful for renters, when in fact they have basically enshrined the status quo, leaving renters exposed to astronomical rent increases once a year.”

Asked whether the new measures would garner Greens approval, Mr Albanese said the announcement showed “how serious” state and territory governments across the political spectrum were taking supply issues.

“That’s the key to putting downward pressure and assisting renters in addition to the sensible renters’ rights that we’ve agreed to,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Chandler-Mather did not rule out future negotiations on the housing fund, saying the Greens’ may continue talks.

The Greens and Coalition vetoed the HAFF bill in June, before it was tweaked and reintroduced into the House of Representatives in early August. It will likely return to the upper house in October.

If it fails to navigate the Senate again, the rejected bill could serve as the catalyst for a double dissolution election. The only such election in Australian federal politics occurred in 1974 when the Gough Whitlam Labor Government was unable to pass a number of bills through a hostile senate.

Warmer reception to housing measures

The Cabinet measures were welcomed by the Property Council of Australia and peak housing advocacy bodies Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) and National Shelter. 

Emma Greenhalgh, CEO of National Shelter, said the package of rental reforms was highly significant, and laid a platform for further reform.

“A nationally consistent limit of one rental increase per year is a long overdue reform, as is a ban on soliciting rent bidding and stronger privacy protections for renters’ personal information.

“We have come a long way - six months ago there was no prospect of a national reform push on renters’ rights, but today we have seen solid progress.   

“Despite this, rental reform remains unfinished business. We need upper limits on the quantum of rent increases for tenants to provide them with genuine stability and security.”

Wendy Hayhurst, CEO of CHIA, commented on the phased introduction of inclusionary zoning and planning to support permanent affordable, social and specialist housing in ways that do not add to construction costs.

“Inclusionary zoning promises to be a real policy breakthrough.

“It should ensure that new housing developments include a percentage of social and affordable homes, significantly expanding housing options for people on low and modest incomes.

“The particularly great thing about it is that it’s not a tax on development - the ‘cost’ is baked into the price paid for the land,” Ms Hayhurst said. 

Property Council Chief Executive Mike Zorbas said National Cabinet was tackling the housing supply deficit in a coordinated way for the first time in a long time.

“The New Home Bonus, the Housing Support Program, the National Planning Reform Blueprint, the Social Housing Accelerator and the rental deal all strike a sensible balance in progressing toward affordable new housing supply.

“Decades of strategic failure by governments has left us an unacceptably land-rich, housing poor nation.

“There is a deficit of supply in social, key worker and at market housing across the country.

“Our state planning systems don’t do what every Australian needs them to do – take a statewide view and accept nationwide accountability for providing all Australians with the chance to have a roof over their heads,” Mr Zorbas said.

Article Q&A

How is the government tackling the rental and housing crises?

A new target of 1.2 million new homes to be built over five years from mid-2024 represents an increase of 200,000 above the National Housing Accord figure set last year. Among other measures announced by the National Cabinet were limits on how often rent can be increased and standardisation of eviction laws.

What is the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF)?

The Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) is the federal government signature housing policy aimed at increasing the supply of housing in Australia. It is yet to pass the senate and become a bill due to opposition from The Greens.

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