Chapter 7: Australia
Living in private rental was traditionally a 'rite of passage' for young Australians between leaving their family home and buying a home of their own. Over the last three decades, however, there have been fundamental changes to this pattern with people at different stages in the life course and in diverse circumstances remaining in, or returning to, private rental. The percentage of households who rent privately has gradually increased over this period such that almost a quarter of Australian households now live in the sector as a result of changing preferences and lifestyles, lack of other housing options, or some combination of these. The Australian PRS has long been characterized by small-scale investors who own one or two properties (Berry, 2000). Over the last 15 years, this has become more widespread with many 'mum and dad' rental investors entering the residential property market. While there is some overlap, private renters are typically distinct from rental investors, thus generating two different perspectives on the private rental sector: as a place to live and as a popular form of investment. Changes in the role and composition of the sector and in investment patterns are the result of many socio-demographic and market factors. The last three decades have seen major changes in life course and lifestyle, such as deferral of marriage and childbearing, the growth of lone person households, and the increased financial independence of women through labour force participation.
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