1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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The legal rights and obligations that households have in relation to the dwelling in which they live vary considerably according to tenure type. For example, those who own their home have greater security of tenure than most renters, whose occupancy rights are subject to review at relatively frequent intervals. Owners generally also have more freedom than renters to modify the dwelling to suit their specific needs and tastes, to keep pets, take in boarders or run a business from home. In the course of repaying their home loans, owners usually accumulate wealth in the form of home equity that can then be used to secure finance for other purposes.

On the other hand, renting can have advantages over home ownership, such as greater flexibility to move elsewhere at short notice, lower housing costs than many owners repaying a mortgage, and the opportunity to invest in other assets which may yield higher returns than home ownership. Households renting from a state or territory government housing authority (public renters) generally have lower housing costs and greater security of tenure than those renting from a private landlord.

At the 1966 Census of Population and Housing, 71% of all occupied private dwellings were either owned outright or owned with a mortgage by their occupants. A lower average level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander home ownership rates, compared to the population as a whole, contributed in part to the decrease, to 69%, in average home ownership recorded in the 1971 Census (see note (c) in table 10.5). Since then, the rate of home ownership in Australia, as measured in the Census, has ranged between 68% and 70% (table 10.5).


Owner without a mortgage
Owner with a mortgage
All owner occupied private dwellings
Other tenure
Proportion of owner occupied private dwellings

2 231.9
3 126.5
2 468.9
1 001.3
3 589.5
1 306.3
1 437.8
2 761.5(d)
1 044.5
4 040.5
1 548.9
1 542.9
3 178.9(d)
1 164.5
4 534.0
1 981.9
1 604.4
3 586.3
1 334.4
5 094.8
2 362.0
1 561.3
3 923.2
1 560.6
5 694.2
2 658.0
1 656.1(f)
4 314.0
1 866.0
6 247.8
2 810.9
1 872.1(f)
4 683.0
1 953.1
6 737.4
2 478.3
2 448.2(f)
4 926.5
2 063.9
7 056.1

na not available
(a) Excludes not stated.
(b) Separate figures for owners without a mortgage and owners with a mortgage are not available for these years.
(c) Following the 1967 Referendum to change the Constitution and a subsequent change in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander question wording in the Census in 1971, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander census count increased by 45%. This change made a small contribution to the decrease in the measured proportion of owner occupied private dwellings.
(d) Includes 'owner/purchaser undefined' which accounts for 0.4% of the total in 1976 and 1.9% in 1981. In subsequent years, only the specific categories of 'owner with a mortgage' and 'owner without a mortgage' were included on Census forms, which may have resulted in a small decline in measured ownership rates.
(e) Due to budgetary constraints, the ABS was unable to complete the normal processing of the data and a 50% sample was processed. The impact of this on the measured proportion of owner occupied private dwellings is not clear.
(f) Includes dwellings 'Being purchased under a rent/buy scheme'. These accounted for 0.5% of occupied private dwellings in 1996, 0.7% in 2001 and 0.2% in 2006. In previous years, this tenure category was not separately catered for on Census forms and it is not known how households with rent/buy tenure would have responded to the questions on tenure.
Source: ABS data available on request, Census of Population and Housing.

In the 2009–10 Survey of Income and Housing, it was found that an estimated 33% of households owned their homes outright (i.e. without a mortgage) and 36% were owners with a mortgage. A further 24% were renting from a private landlord and 4% were renting from a state or territory housing authority.

Since 1995–96, the proportion of households renting from state/territory housing authorities has declined slightly while the proportion renting privately increased from 19% to 24% in 2009–10 (graph 10.6). While a greater proportion of all renting households are renting from private landlords, there is an increased number of private renters receiving Commonwealth rent assistance (see HOUSING COSTS and HOUSING ASSISTANCE).

Between June 1996 and June 2010, the proportion of households without a mortgage declined from 43% to 33%, while the proportion with a mortgage rose from 28% to 36%. The decline in outright home ownership may reflect increasing uptake of flexible low-cost financing options that allow households to extend their existing home mortgages for purposes other than the original home purchase (see HOME BUYERS).

Graph 10.6 Households, By tenure and landlord type

Tenure type is closely related to a household's life cycle stage (see HOUSING AND LIFE CYCLE STAGES), so differences in tenure patterns between geographic regions are partly a reflection of differences in the age and family structures of regional populations. For example, in 2009–10, the states with the oldest age structures had the four highest rates of outright home ownership. The Northern Territory had the lowest home-ownership rate (57%) and the lowest proportion of outright owners (18%) (graph 10.7). The Northern Territory also had the highest proportion of renters overall (40%), and the highest proportion of public renters (8%). This pattern of housing tenure reflects the Territory's young age structure, highly mobile work force, and relatively large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

Graph 10.7 Owner and renter households, By state and territory - 2009-10

Australia's preference for a free-standing house on its own block of land is most evident among home owners. Of the 5.7 million households that owned their home in 2009–10, 88% lived in separate houses (graph 10.8) compared with 57% of both private and public renter households. A higher proportion of public and private renter households lived in flats, units or apartments (22% and 26% respectively) compared with home owner households (4.6%).

Graph 10.8 Owner and renter households, By dwelling type—2009–10


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.