Occupancy describes whether a dwelling is occupied under a formal tenancy. In social housing, occupancy rates are influenced by tenancy turnover, housing supply and demand, as well as the need for the redevelopment or replacement of dwellings. At times, major maintenance work needs to be completed before dwellings can be allocated to a new household. The data presented in the following section provides data on tenantable status and dwelling characteristics.
In Australia, social housing occupancy rates have remained high from year to year. At June 2021, public housing (97%) had a higher occupancy rate than SOMIH (95%), community housing (95%) and Indigenous community housing (92%) (Table DWELLINGS.7). There was little variation in occupancy rates in the social housing programs across the states and territories. At June 2021:
- For public housing, the highest occupancy rates were in Queensland (98%), Tasmania (98%) and New South Wales (98%). The lowest occupancy rate was in South Australia (94%).
- The highest occupancy rate for SOMIH was in Queensland (99%) compared to the Northern Territory, which had the lowest occupancy rate (91%).
- For community housing, the highest occupancy rate was in New South Wales (97%), whereas the lowest was in the Australian Capital Territory (80%).
The tenantable status of a dwelling relates to whether a dwelling provides certain level of basic amenity, and that maintenance is completed to the required minimum level.
At June 2021, almost all public housing dwellings were tenantable (99% or 295,600); higher than the proportion of SOMIH (97% or 14,300) and community housing dwellings (94% or 102,100) (Table DWELLINGS.9). Around 3,300 (1%) public housing dwellings were not tenantable and 600 (0.2%) were undergoing major development. For SOMIH, over 400 (3%) dwellings were not tenantable, with 33 (0.2%) that were undergoing major development. A similar proportion of community housing dwellings were not tenantable (2% or 2,000). Data were not available for Indigenous community housing dwellings.
Dwelling types vary across public housing, community housing and SOMIH programs. At June 2021, most public housing dwellings were a separate house (37%), flat, unit or apartment (35%) or semi-detached, townhouse, etc. (27%). In comparison, the vast majority of SOMIH dwellings were a separate house (82%), followed by a relatively small proportion of semi-detached, townhouse etc (14%). The pattern of SOMIH’s dwelling types is likely a reflection of the location of these dwellings and the target group. More than half of community housing dwellings were a flat, unit or apartment (51%), followed by a separate house (30%) (Figure DWELLINGS.4; Table DWELLINGS.10).
The proportion of different dwelling types has varied over time for public housing and community housing, while SOMIH has remained relatively stable. From June 2012 to 2021 (Figure DWELLINGS.4; Table DWELLINGS.10):
- There was an increase in the proportion of public housing dwellings that were a flat, unit or apartment, from 33% in 2012 to 35% in 2021. In contrast, there was a decrease in the number of separate houses, from 40% to 37% of dwellings.
- There was an increase in the proportion of flat, unit or apartment type dwellings in community housing since 2012; from 43% of dwellings in 2012 to 51% in 2021.
Number of bedrooms
The number of bedrooms in social housing dwellings differed across program types. At June 2021 (Figure DWELLINGS.4; Table DWELLINGS.11):
- Public housing dwellings were most likely to be 3 bedroom dwellings (36% or 107,500 dwellings), followed by 2 bedroom dwellings (31% or 93,800).
- The majority of SOMIH dwellings were 3 bedroom dwellings (59% or 8,600 dwellings), with very few 1 bedroom dwellings (2%).
- Community housing dwellings were most commonly 2 bedroom (35% or 35,700) or 1 bedroom (33% or 33,500) dwellings.
- Around half of the Indigenous community housing dwellings were 3 bedroom dwellings (49% or 6,500) and a further 24% (or 3,200) were 4 bedroom dwellings. Similar to SOMIH, few were 1 bedroom dwellings (3%).
Over time, the proportion of dwellings that have 3 bedrooms has declined for public housing (39% in 2012 to 36% in 2021), SOMIH (62% in 2012 to 59% in 2021) and Indigenous community housing (51% in 2014 to 49% in 2021).
Figure DWELLINGS.4: Dwellings by dwelling type, number of bedrooms and social housing program, at June 30 2012 to 2021