On a working trip to the UK, I am struck by a story that featured on the TV news this morning about housing affordability.
Yep, it’s happening over here too. One of the big banks has done an analysis that shows that fewer people own their own homes than since the 1980s and even those who choose to rent are doing it tough.
They know this because the gap between the rise in rents and growth of wages has been growing exponentially to the point where rents have risen 10 times faster than wages.
Here in Britain it used to take three years to save enough to put a deposit on a house or flat. Now it takes the average person 20 years.
What does this have to do with us in Australia? Nothing and everything. We have our own problems and our own, admittedly half-hearted attempts at solutions.
Our specific problem is that our politicians lack the wit and will to challenge a system that encourages people to see property purely as an investment and think only of the financial returns, regardless of the social consequences.
Yes, we need property investors to provide homes for tenants to rent but, with the tax breaks that you can get for renting overpriced homes or, even worse, leaving them empty so they can accumulate greater value, we seem to have lost the plot.
Sadly, ridiculously, the best hope we have is for a major correction in the market like the one that prompted that Global Financial Crisis a few years ago. If that happens, people will lose their homes, others will lose their fortunes but everything will settle back to normality … for a while.
That said, you can bet your life that bankers, economists and our government are watching our property bubble like hawks to make sure it never happens. So the solution is further away than ever because the problem is never properly addressed.
In Britain they blame Russian investors. Here in Australia we point the bone at Chinese property speculators. But the problem isn’t them, it’s us – and until we accept that, nothing will change.
Back to Australia, here are some local problems and a few home-grown solutions from the Flat Chat forum.
- What do you do about a strata manager who uses a meeting no one attends to award himself a new contract? That’s HERE.
- What do you do when residents keep jamming security doors open because it is more convenient? That’s HERE.
- Who has to repair a leaky garden wall on the edge of a terrace? That’s HERE.
- What’s the point of having a committee code of conduct if some people just ignore it? That’s HERE.
- Do landlords still have to replace the batteries in smoke alarms every time they get a new tenant now that batteries last 10 years? That’s HERE.
- We are all supposed to review our by-laws by November 30 this year. But what does the compulsory by-law review actually mean? That’s HERE.
- The secretary doesn’t do email and doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be doing. The rest of the committee don’t have a clue either. What can you do? That’s HERE.
- What do you do when there’s an even split on the committee – and all the unit entitlements are the same? That’s HERE.