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SA's ongoing rental crisis sparks new calls for action

Renting in Adelaide has never been more expensive or stressful sparking new calls for action from the South Australian government.

The South Australian Council of Social Service says a new report has found that about a third of those renting are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, the definition of rental stress.

It says even in the city's cheapest suburbs the cost to rent a two-bedroom unit is unaffordable for a single person on a JobSeeker allowance, an age pensioner or for those earning the minimum wage.

In the year to December 2022, rents across the metropolitan area rose by 14.3 per cent, well above inflation.

"This rental affordability crisis needs urgent action and the government must use its review of the Residential Tenancies Act to increase renter's security of tenure and rule out exorbitant rent increases by putting a cap on rental price increases," SACOSS chief executive Ross Womersley said.

"We need to be clear. When rents go up faster than the inflation rate, landlords are seeing an increase in their real income at the expense of renters who will struggle more to make ends meet."

The ongoing rental crisis will be the subject of a protest at parliament house on Sunday, with the South Australian Anti-Poverty Network calling for an emergency rent freeze, a vacancy tax to address what it says are 86,000 empty houses across SA, and better protections for renters.

It also wants the federal government to increase JobSeeker and other Centrelink payments in the May budget.

Spokesman Duncan Bainbridge said it had never been more expensive and stressful to be a renter, with Adelaide experiencing a 0.2 per cent vacancy rate and less than 10 per cent of advertised properties being offered for less than $400 a week.

"This is a crisis, but neither level of government is prepared to do what it truly takes to protect renters from growing hardship," Mr Bainbridge said.

"After one year in office, the Malinauskas government's announcements have been only minor policy tweaks and baby steps with nothing to control the huge rent rises that have caused devastation.

"In an emergency, minor tweaks and baby steps will not do. We need the government to show courage and leadership, including halting skyrocketing rent rises."

Also on Friday, the state government said it would soon contact thousands of current and former tenants in a bid to return $19.2 million in unclaimed bond money.

SA's consumer affairs agency will use text messages and emails to try to encourage people who might have money owing to make an application for a refund.

Consumer and Business Affairs Minister Andrea Michaels said with the cost of renting in South Australia at an all-time high, the return of bond money could be an unexpected windfall.