Young people appear to have little prospects for employment apart from jobs in hospitality and retail. What brought this about?
We can think of some reasons. They include the Liberal Coalition policies inviting:
-Visa workers who accept low wages to gain ‘permanent residency‘
-the demise of TAFE
-employers having access to cheap labour from visa workers
-the loss of manufacturing for cheap imports
-an economy based on high density residential development esp. mixed-use development of shops, cafes and warehouses, childcare on lower floors
-thus expansion of the retail and hospitality sectors
WHAT this report does not reveal is why those aged 75 and older may own their own home is because of their age; 40, 50 years spent paying a mortgage; during that time they paid their full taxes to cover the cost of their parents aged pensions … they enjoyed job protections, good wages and conditions through Union membership. And there were more job opportunities with a bigger range of industry …
-currently though more older women are finding themselves homeless due to insecure work; less employment continuity due to child rearing; marriage breakdown and/or domestic violence
KEY POINTS from Professor Gray’s research …
-1 in 7 Australians struggled to pay rent or mortgage payments during Pandemic
-housing stress has doubled to that of 3 months earlier
-44% of young people could not meet rent or mortgage repayments
-a relationship between age and not meeting housing payments on time
-young Australians largely employed in retail or hospitality * the hardest hit sectors by the Pandemic
-young people subject to lowest wages growth and consequently little savings
-less than 2% of those 75 and over struggle to pay rent or mortgages
QUESTION why won’t the Morrison Government come clean on what their plans are for JobKeeper from September with a review of payment now underway, and what of JobSeeker?
Rather than giving the victims sufficient payment to sustain life, does this Government prefer to look after itself with a pay increase?
In May 2020 Sydney’s rental market was described as ‘very much a tenants market right now, it’s probably the biggest tenants market I’ve seen in my last 20-years’, said Louis Christopher, Managing Director, SQM Research.
THAT no doubt was due to the huge job losses from the Pandemic as tenants had to move out … return to family … become homeless … consequently Landlords had to cut rents to find new tenants …
WILL this lead tomore SUPER FUNDS investing in not just Build to Rent BUT Build to Rent to Buy?
IT appears that AUSTRALIAN SUPER is leading the way by investing 25% in Assemble Communities, an ‘affordable build-to-rent developer’!
WITH a Whole Cohort of Australians locked out of home ownership prior to the Pandemic … that this HOUSING AFFORDABILITY CRISIS has only worsened now!
THIS would seem to be the logical solution to the housing affordability predicament. Recall years ago Public Housing Tenants were able to buy their home over time!
WILL the Morrison Government invest and transform the tax system to enable this sector to thrive for Australian First Home Buyers?
BECAUSE this Government has come in for much ridicule for their “HomeBuilder” scheme …
Note how Geoff Hamner, Brendan Coates and others sum it up!
AND from Michael West: ‘HomeBuilder: a sneaky plan for the Coalition’s franking credits crew to collar the pension?’
Developer, Assemble Communities wants 60 to 70% of their projects to be affordable housing.
WILL the Morrison Government join Australian Super, and invest?And would this Government ensure that only Australian citizens could access this housing?
ACROSS SYDNEY and MELBOURNE … many suburbs have had a complete demographic change through foreign investment … with obvious consequences … and if this Cohort of Australians locked out of the housing market were in fact given the opportunity to enjoy HOME OWNERSHIP … that this might create better social cohesion!
AND like housing projects would create jobs and boost our economy …
The model allows tenants to rent for five years to progress to buying at an agreed fixed price when they entered the lease.
-fund members in receipt of a good return
-affordable housing for Australian workers
The difficulty to be overcome is the extreme financialisation of land!
-build to rent developers are at a disadvantage compared to mum and dad investors in private rentals
WHAT is needed is for the Scomo Government to deliver incentives to increase the growth of this sector and hence reduce pressure on the investors to reduce the cost of these apartments
THIS would ensure the viabililty, profitability of the property sector and benefit Australians locked out …
ISN’T it time to implement and enforce the second tranche of the Anti-Money Laundering Laws for the Real Estate Gatekeepers … ??
IN early April 2020 the NDT for the Daily Telegraph did a sympathetic story for the remaining tenants of Ivanhoe Public Housing Estate …
IVANHOE ESTATE was an architect designed Public Housing Estate of apartment blocks and townhouses set in amongst Australian bushland.
Demolition was to begin that week of 6 April even though some residents were still waiting for a replacement home!
The main road that cuts through the estate formed a community for these people over a mere 25 years before they learnt of their fate. It was a happy community conveniently located to the University, the Macquarie Park Shopping Centre, the Business and IT Park, with bus connections across Sydney! And modern housing!
The Liberal Coalition seems bent on demolishing any development aged more than 20 years … no matter that it was built to last as with the Bicentennial Projects of the stadiums and soon the Powerhouse Museum!
Ivanhoe demolished for two thirds private redevelopment … to dovetail with the Federal Government policy enabling developers to market housing projects 100% overseas particularly in China.
CHINA is now discouraging its people from returning to Australia … however the private redevelopment here would have already been purchased … will they onsell?
Perhaps it has now dawned upon Australians that they are being moved along … to get out of the way … whether it be for Public Housing demolitions … or suburban communities rezoned for higher density for new ‘Permanent Residents’ to launder their ‘hot money’ …
IT would seem that since the NSW Liberal Coalition has largely – if not entirely – demolished our Public Housing that on this occasion the Social Housing Sector have managed to get a sizeable share of the 3000 dwellings … with 950 Social Housing! And 128 affordable rental homes allocated … said to all blend with the private development …
… admittedly this is a big stride for this government that normally only provides 5% affordable and/or social housing … because now it really has to do something about homelessness …
Some residents were still on site in 45 homes because they had not been provided with a suitable alternative. The estate had only celebrated its 25th birthday when the tenants learnt of the Government’s plans …
Now after 28 years living in a home, and in a happy community it would be very distressing to be flung off in another direction, and to lose your community!
Read more! Ivanhoe public housing estate at Macquarie Park set to be demolished
THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT HAS UNVEILED ITS $688M HOMEBUILDER PACKAGE: NICKI HUTLEY IN AN INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL PUPAZZONI: THE BUSINESS
THIS week the Government’s Homebuilder Package was unveiled to keep the construction industry hammering along …
-the sector supports more than 1 million jobs; facing a 40% fall in work after current contracts are completed
-owner occupiers can apply for $25,000 towards building or renovating their homes
-but they have to spend $150,000 to get the grant
-new builds are capped $750,000
-renovations can be made if the home is worth less than $1.5 million
-eligible builders will have to already be registered which has a tight 6 month timeframe
CONCERN the scheme does not go far enough:
Nicki Hutley made these points:
– the higher end of income earners; people in the top 90% most likely to be able to afford this package; they will have to spend $250,000 or $125,00 of their own money
-those able to do the renovations; obviously a lot more if you are going to build a house
-if you have a total package of $700,000 max. income of $200,000; it is unclear if you have enough money or whether the value of the home build in big cities where people have higher incomes will meet the criteria
Rachel: The government is forecasting it will receive about 27,000 applications
If this package is targeted towards people on higher incomes yet we are in a recession
-Nicki in response said that many will be nervous about their job; where the economy is going; people will put renovations off; some may view it is nice I will get an early Christmas present from the government of $25,000
–but the size and scope of that spend is not a sensible decision for most to make
-it will tweek some people over the fence; but the government is not likely to get the 30,000 number they are thinking
Rachel raised the issue that there is quite a bit of criticism because there is nothing for public or social housing
Nicki in response:
–in my opinion the government has totally missed the mark; think about the chronic issue of housing affordability, and affordable housing, social housing, the need for refuges for domestic and family violence
–a one in a century opportunity to use stimulus to do excellent social good; not to take taxpayers money to be put in the hands of middle income or wealthier families but to stimulate the economy to benefit more people and not just the few those least likely to need that support
–providing lower cost housing for most people; community housing model needs government support by granting land
-giving additional grants like the Rudd Government; it did stimulate some spending
–we can support that sector to provide more housing for more people who cannot access any sort of housing
–the levels of homelessness are rising particularly older women; this is the sector we need to support the most
-in normal circumstances this would add to house prices as we have seen with first home owners grant in the past
-because the market is so soft; difficult to say whether it will get passed through and see a rush of people
-clearly a rush on the sector in the next six months will push up prices unnecessarily
-it would be unusual if we did not see some upward pressure
-it is going to have to be managed very carefully; builders will have to be licenced; a good thing
–obviously will have some adverse effects
AT CAAN we are seeing and reading of more Economists seeing the poor policies of this Government for what they are … noticeably now since 2017.
HAS the ‘penny dropped’ that with high immigration, visa manipulation and money laundering that a whole Cohort of Australians are being replaced by this ‘Silent Invasion’? Not only in the housing market but the jobs market too!
HAS the real estate tourism forced out … the Economists extended families, friends, neighbours … to live as much as 60, 80 Km from their workplaces … and some have lost their jobs … even become homeless!
There has been much media for some time targeting Baby Boomers for the increased house prices. Has the media been forced to overlook this Silent Invasion of the Visa Real Estate Tours; the vast range of Visas encouraging foreign acquisition of Australia’s residential property; the FIRB ruling allowing developers to sell 100% of ‘new homes’ to foreign buyers? … and …
-the exemption for the Real Estate Gatekeepers from the second tranche of the Anti-Money Laundering Laws by the Morrison Government in October 2018! This tranche had been shelved for some 12 years prior!
Back in May 2017 Nicki Hutley was on the panel of a Forum run by the Fifth Estate on Housing Affordability where CAAN raised the issue of foreign buyers; that it had been reported that only 11 per cent of new homes were bought by foreign buyers; but that the real percentage was concealed by the role of the onshore Daigou; and that the FIRB ruling of 2008 implemented in 2009 allowed developers to sell 100% of ‘new homes’ to foreign buyers. This was Nicki’s response:
Nicki Hutley: We mapped this a while ago and it has obviously increased significantly in the last couple of years. But it is not the whole story. It’s an element of it. All of these things, I think with housing affordability, one of the things I was looking forward tonight was not getting bogged down in one thing like negative gearing but actually looking at the bigger picture.
All the drivers of demand, all the drivers of supply, and looking at it in a holistic way because there is not one silver bullet. It’s not going to be solved overnight and lots of different pieces of the puzzle need to be moved together. Yes, there has been a significant increase in foreign investment in the past couple of years. Yes there are people getting around guidelines, although those guidelines have been tightened up since the FIRB was under review.
Yes, there will always be people who get around the system but they are a relatively small proportion of the population. And the only thing we can say about that, is that if there’s development going on that is precluding other development going on …
If new development is being funded by Chinese and occupied by Chinese, it is not affecting the net impact on Australia. It’s only if that is stopping additional supply coming onto the market – though given that the construction industry is at capacity then there is good reason to suggest that that is in fact the case.
“It’s not going to be solved overnight and lots of different pieces of the puzzle need to be moved together.” – Nicki Hutley
STOP foreign residential property investment … with homes … i.e. ghost towers from money laundering … kept off the market … because they can access Australia’s capital appreciation and negative gearing write-offs providing more than enough returns for foreigners to invest …
Property values continue to rise faster than the rest of the economy … with three empty houses for every homeless person in Victoria.
The economic and social benefits of ending homelessness have been demonstrated in various places around the world, like Finland providing long term shelter to the homeless!
LOWEST WAGES GROWTH … and competition for rental accommodation from the high influx of Vibrants … Visa Workers … has led to more Australians becoming homeless … yet our governments have sold off Public Housing Estates!
SQUATTING IN ABANDONED HOUSES TAUGHT ME THAT THE GOVERNMENT COULD END HOMELESSNESS IF IT WANTED TO
00:00 / 08:31
I’ve been homeless for 26 years, and one thing I have learned is that the government could solve homelessness in a matter of months if it chose to, writes Joseph Walter*.
UPDATED 29 FEBRUARY 2020
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I sleep on a building site. When I first became homeless I was 15 years old. I’m 41 now, and I’ve spent most of the intervening years in the same situation.
At first I managed to couch surf for a while, then I spent some time hopping between youth shelters, none of which ever provided a path to stable housing.
As I got older, the number of shelters that could provide me with emergency accommodation dropped to zero, and since then I have slept on the street, in people’s garages, in clothing donation bins (when you still could), on public transport, and in abandoned buildings.
Of those options, I found squatting in abandoned buildings to be the best. It’s the safest, and it provides you with a little independence.
For example, you don’t have to rely on charity for food when you have a place to keep a camp stove, and that means you have many more hours every day you can use to try to change your situation.
You can hold down a jobwhile squatting. Until the building gets demolished and you’re back on the street, anyway.
We tend to blame people for their situation, suggesting that things like substance abuse and mental health issues lead to homelessness.
The reality is different. For years, studies have indicated that many homeless people with substance abuse or mental health issues developed those issues after they became homeless — that homelessness was the cause, rather than the other way around.
Blaming homeless people for their situation also ignores that one of the leading causes of homelessness is domestic and family violence.
I have squatted with a 15-year-old girl who was being abused at home. Since the government could find no evidence of wrongdoing, its solution was to send her back to that environment. Of course she wasn’t going to stay, but I never heard from her again.
There’s another factor contributing to homelessness in Australia that is never mentioned, however.
Our system of allocating resources simply doesn’t meet everyone’s needs.
It is a fact that there is more than enough housing for everyone in Australia.Prosper Australia’s Speculative Vacancies report estimates that 60,901 residential properties were vacant in Melbourne alone in 2017 — that’s close to three empty houses for every homeless person in Victoria.
These properties are simply kept off the market. Many of them are perfectly good houses. I stayed for nearly a year in a ten-bedroom, three-story mansion with three bathrooms, fifteen-foot ceilings, and chandeliers throughout. The closest train station was a short walk to Melbourne Central.
Capital appreciation and negative gearing write-offs provide more than enough returns for people to invest in properties they intend to leave empty, taking them off the market.
Property values continue to rise faster than the rest of the economy, making for a solid investment whether or not the property is used.
The government either did not understand the numbers, or was afraid of the pushback that would have resulted from a policy that actually had any effect.
Given the number of economic experts the government employs, the former seems unlikely.
The problem policymakers face is that if you supply enough housing to meet demand, the monetary value of that housing is reduced.Rent is cheaper. Buying a house is cheaper. Returns on investment are temporarily lowered, and that’s where the issue lies.
Our government lacks the political will to make a change that might significantly slow the growth of property values, yet that is what is needed to solve homelessness.
The economic and social benefits of ending homelessness have been demonstrated in various places around the world, like Finland.
In 2007, Finland implemented a Housing First policy, which provides long term shelter to the homeless without requiring months or years of engaging with bureaucracy first.
Similar policies have been adopted in other countries, and Western Australia recently announced plans to do the same.
These benefits far outweigh the cost, but they are complex, and not as easily conveyed in a soundbite as a reduction in property value growth rates.
Here in Victoria and much of Australia, our governments won’t act meaningfully, so we continue to bear the greater cost. The most vulnerable among us are forced to carry the bulk of it. The government could end homelessness, but it’s choosing not to.
Mental Health Housing and Homelessness Interrelated … AHURI
RESEARCH DINAH LEWIS BOUCHER THU 20 FEB 20
Australia’s housing, homelessness and mental health systems are crisis-driven and not well integrated, meaning many struggle to access required support when needed, reveals new research.
The national study, Trajectories: the interplay between mental health and housing pathways, is one of the first to examine the relationship between the housing and mental health pathways of people with lived experience of mental ill-health.
Undertaken by Mind Australia in collaboration with AHURI the quantitative analysis highlights the impact mental health issues have on a person’s financial situation, and ultimately, directly impacting their housing stability.
“People who experienced severe psychological distress had an 89 per cent increased likelihood of financial hardship in the following year and a 96 per cent increased likelihood of financial hardship within two years,” the report said.
“People whose mental health deteriorated to the point where they experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression and who did not see a health specialist were 65 per cent more likely to face financial hardship, such as going hungry, having to sell possessions or not be able to pay housing costs.”
Highlighting potential points of “practical intervention” and areas for “system improvement”, the research identifies five housing trajectories people commonly experience as a result.
Five common housing and mental health trajectories: AHURI
• Excluded from help required, this trajectory is characterised by a lack of access to housing or mental health care.
• People stuck without adequate support, is a trajectory where they are trapped in inappropriate housing, institutions or services due to a lack of options.
• The cycling trajectory is marked by a downward spiral in which people enter into and drop out of supports repeatedly, which progressively erodes their resources.
• People on the stabilising trajectory have access to secure, appropriate, safe and affordable housing, ongoing mental health support and the social and financial resources necessary to focus on recovery
• People on the well supported trajectory have the type of housing and level of care that is right for them and can achieve their ambitions beyond housing and mental health.
Housing as foundation for mental health recovery
“For people with ill mental health, appropriate housing is housing which allows for control of space,” report co-author Dr Sarah Pollock from Mind Australia said.
“It’s in a safe neighbourhoodclose to family and friends; and has good access to public transport, services, and opportunities for work, volunteering or study.
“Our research finds that having access to safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing is the foundation to recovering from mental ill health,” Pollock said.
The research found that housing outcomes for people experiencing mental health issues showed that mediating factors, such as social support, having good general health, and accessing mental health and other health services, can reduce the likelihood of housing instability.
“Stable social support reduced the likelihood of deteriorating mental health to the point where a person experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression by 33 per cent, reducing the length of time a person was unwell by 6 per cent,” the report said.
FROM A CAAN CONTRIBUTOR … Here’s how he sums it up!
‘THREE MILLION HOMELESS IN AUSTRALIA … 800,000 children.
People living rough, can’t afford rent, Newstart below poverty line.
Add to that the huge over supply of apartments (not just my ramblings).
Righteous government crowing about affordable housing – who’s it for?
We are probably the least equitable westernised country on the planet.
Under the LNP we have gone backwards. But it’s OK to keep your franking credits, it’s ok to systematically underpay your workers …
Do CEOs find themselves underpaid?
Spew venom at Unions but allow politicians to use taxpayers money to supplement election campaigns … Come on people get real!’
Report shows three million people in poverty in Australia and why we must act to support each other
The 2020 Poverty in Australia Overview, released today by the Australian Council of Social Service and UNSW Sydney, shows more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line in Australia.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “It’s not right that in Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, more than three million people, including three quarters of a million children, are living in poverty.
“We want to support each other. It’s who we are as a nation. But our economy is leaving people behind, with persistently high poverty rates despite decades of uninterrupted economic growth.
“People living in poverty include young people working to get their foot in the door of the competitive job market, single parents juggling caring responsibilities, and older people confronting age discrimination.
“The job market is changing, with jobs less secure, and fewer entry level jobs than there used to be. Our housing costs are among the highest in the world and are locking people in poverty. For households of working age with the lowest incomes, average housing costs rose by 42% from 2005 to 2017.
“Australia’s income support system was designed to help people when they are going through tough times. But key income support payments – Newstart and Youth Allowance – have not increased in real terms in 26 years and they are both well below the poverty line.
“The low rate of Newstart, a lack of jobs and unaffordable housing are locking people in poverty. “Not only has poverty remained consistently high in our wealthy country, the depth of poverty is getting worse, with households in poverty on average living 42 per cent below the poverty line, up from 35% in 2007.
“It’s clear we must act to lift people out of poverty. The Government can reduce poverty by boosting growth in jobs, increasing Newstart and Rent Assistance, and investing in social housing to ensure everyone has a safe place to call home,” Dr Goldie said.
The report’s lead researcher, UNSW Sydney Associate Professor Dr Bruce Bradbury said: “The poverty rate in Australia is worse than in most other wealthy countries, including New Zealand, Germany and Ireland.
“Our report finds that 13.6 per cent of people in Australia are living in poverty and that poverty rates have remained at about this level for the past decade, despite economic growth. “Child poverty has consistently been higher than overall poverty, ranging from 18 per cent to 16 per cent over the past decade and now sits at 17.7 per cent – more than one in six children.”
Professor Carla Treloar, Director of the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, said: “We cannot accept these high, persistent levels of overall poverty and child poverty. “We can see in recent decades the impacts of changes to income support settings on poverty levels. It’s clear we must take action on income support, housing and employment to lift people out of poverty,” said Professor Treloar.
• 3.24 million people in Australia (13.6% of the population) live below the poverty line. • 774,000 children under the age of 15 (17.7% of all children in Australia) live below the poverty line. • More than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line in Australia. • The poverty rate in Australia is worse than in most other wealthy countries. It is worse than in New Zealand, Germany and Ireland, according to the latest figures from the OECD. • In Australia, the poverty line is $457 per week for a single adult. The poverty line is measured as 50% of median income. • The average ‘poverty gap’ (the difference between the incomes of people in poverty in various types of families and the poverty line) is $282 per week. • The single rate of Youth Allowance (plus Rent Assistance and Energy Supplement) is $168 per week below the poverty line. • Our survey of young people on Youth Allowance found 9 in 10 skip meals and 1 in 3 have withdrawn from their studies because of a lack of funds. • The single rate of Newstart (plus Rent Assistance and Energy Supplement) is $117 per week below the poverty line. • Our survey of people on Newstart found more than 8 in 10 regularly skip meals and more than half have less than $15 a day left after housing costs. • The single rate of the Age Pension (plus Pension and Energy Supplements) is closer to the poverty line, but still $10 per week below. • Among the lowest 20% of working-age households by income, average housing costs grew by 42% from 2005 to 2017 (compared with an average rise in housing costs of 15% for the middle 20%). • Newstart, Youth Allowance and Rent Assistance have not increased in real terms in 25 years. • ACOSS is calling for a $95 per week increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance; a $20 per week increase to Rent Assistance (as a first step) and for these payments to be regularly indexed to wages, as is the case for the Age Pension.
Media contacts for ACOSS, UNSW and partner interviews:
ACOSS, Monique Vandeleur 0419 626 155 UNSW Corporate Communications, Belinda Henwood, 0412 270 034 The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Bridie Riordan, 0491 159 256 Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, Clare Kermond, 0407 907632 cohealth, Sara Norbury, 0447 125 166 Anglicare Australia, Maiy Azize, 0434 200 794
In an age of sky-high house prices and record debt, Kirsty Garrash and Francis Murphy were close to reaching a financial milestone many homebuyers can only dream about — they owned their family home outright.
Kirsty Garrash and Francis Murphy lost their house after borrowing from a small business lender
Small business lenders are largely unregulated
Small business and consumer credit bodies are calling for greater checks on lending to small businesses
But, now, just two years later, the couple and their five children have been left homeless, victims of a short-term business loan that ended up costing them an annual interest rate of 150 per cent.
“It’s devastating,” Ms Garrash told 7.30.
“In hindsight, I’d never get a loan like that. It undid everything we worked so hard for.”
Their case is symptomatic of the largely unregulated world of small business finance in Australia, where lenders are not obliged to make sure borrowers are taking out loans they can afford.
“It is the wild west,” said Gerard Brody, chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre.
“People can go online or to a broker and get access to an unregulated loan all too easily.”
The consequences for borrowers like Ms Garrash and Mr Murphy, who used their family home as security, can be catastrophic.
‘I feel like we’ve failed’
In 2017, the couple sought a $300,000 loan from Sydney-based firm Mango Credit, which they used to pay off other debts and expand their excavation business on the New South Wales Central Coast.
They agreed to make repayments of $5,250 a month, but this would jump to $37,500 a month if they ever fell behind on the loan.
Their family is now living in a neighbour’s living room while they search for a house to rent.
*It is the kind of financial calamity that Australia’s consumer lending rules are supposed to prevent.
*But because Ms Garrash and Mr Murphy’s loan was taken out in the name of their business, the normal consumer protections do not apply.
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Now, there is a push from consumer groups and Australia’s small business watchdog to tighten regulation of the sector to bring it closer into line with consumer lending rules.
The Small Business and Family Enterprises Ombudsman Kate Carnell believes all lenders should be subject to the AFCA regime.
“I think small businesses have no idea this is not regulated, have no idea that they have no recourse apart from the courts,” she said.
“We need to broaden access to mediation and other forms of justice outside the court system so that small businesses have got somewhere else to go if a non-bank lender does the wrong thing.”
Ms Carnell’s call comes after the final report of the financial services royal commission recommended no changes to the current rules for small business lending.
Mr Brody said that recommendation was a missed opportunity.
“I actually think that’s a mistake. In our submissions we said that there should be checks placed on small business lenders, particularly where loans are secured by a residential property,” he said.
“If that goes south it risks their house, individual wellbeing, their security and their health.”
Earlier this year, seven major small business lenders, including Prospa, OnDeck and Spotcap, signed a voluntary code of practice that requires them to be clear and concise about their interest rates and contract terms.
“That’s around 90 per cent of the market at the moment. We don’t have 100 per cent coverage yet, but we’re working on that,” Dianne Tate, chief executive of the Australian Finance Industry Association, told 7.30.
“The code of practice is really important because it sets standards higher than those contained in the law.”
The code also obliges signatories to be members of AFCA.
“So that means if a small business customer has a dispute with one of our financiers and they aren’t able to resolve it directly they can go to AFCA to get their dispute resolved,” Ms Tate said.
Consumer groups have also raised concerns about so-called “sham lending”, where borrowers take out loans in a company name but ultimately use the money to buy a home or investment property.
It is a strategy they say is sometimes used by lenders and borrowers to avoid consumer protection laws.
“If you borrow from an unlicensed lender for the purpose of purchasing property or for any other personal or domestic purposes, then it should be actually covered by consumer credit laws,” Mr Brody said.
Melbourne retiree Carrol James got a loan from unlicensed business lender Prime Capital when she went in search of finance for a townhouse she was building for herself in 2015.
“I explained the reasons why I needed the finance, and he said they could help me but I needed to have a company name in order for them to lend me the money,” she said.
She borrowed in the name of her self-managed superannuation fund, even though the home would be owned and occupied by her personally and the terms of the loan contract make clear that it was only to be used for business purposes.
“It was actually for me, and they knew that,” she said.
“I explained that to them before they gave me the letter of offer.”
Ms James said she took full responsibility for signing documents saying the loan was for business purposes, even though it was for her personal use.
Prime Capital declined to do an interview, but in a statement denied Ms James told ever the company that the money was for personal property.
“The client provided information that the funds were required to complete a development project,” the statement said.
“The client then obtained independent legal advice on the transaction, and we are aware that lawyer informed the facility must be used for business purposes, and any non-business purpose would be a breach of the facility.
“The client also signed declarations to us that the funds would be used for business purposes.”
The annual interest rate on the $360,000 loan was 24 per cent, with monthly repayments of $9,000, including administration fees of $1,800.
She hoped to only have the loan for three to four months until the unit was completed.
Ms James says she was managing the repayments on the loan until her builder went bust mid-way through the project.
She wanted to refinance with another lender with a lower interest rate, but she says despite repeated requests it took Prime Capital more than five months to get her the loan documents her new lender required.
She estimates the delay increased the total cost of the loan to around $130,000 in interest fees.
“I reached out to consumer affairs, the Financial Ombudsman Service and also to ASIC, and I was told from every one of them there was nothing they could do to help me,” Ms James said.
“There is actually a very big loophole in the system where these lenders don’t actually come under any governing body at all. So there’s no one to keep them accountable.
“I’m the one who signed the agreement, the loan contract.
“But I think Prime Capital need to take responsibility for the hardship they have caused me.”
Prime Capital apologised for the delay in providing Ms James with her documents.
“We accept that these procedures were unhelpful and bureaucratic,” the company said.
There is no suggestion Prime Capital or any of its staff have broken the law.