Local rental crisis worsens

There appears to be no end in sight to the local rental shortage with new data showing that most of regional Australia is experiencing shortages with vacancy rates of less than one per cent.

National vacancy rate data from SQM Research, shows the vacancy rate for rental dwellings in Corowa was 0.2 per cent in November, while Rutherglen recorded 0.6 per cent.

The data also reveals that vacancy rates in Corowa and Rutherglen like the rest of the nation, have fallen to a ten-year low.

The shortage of affordable long-term rental properties is also contributing the under-supply of workers across a range of industries locally, including hospitality, healthcare and education.

Managing Director of SQM Research Louis Christopher said the last time national vacancy rates were this low was March 2011.

“Regional Australia really has not much room to fall lower. Indeed, a number of regional towns are now recording no vacancies whatsoever,” Mr Christopher said.

Border Property Exchange director Emma Webb said the rental shortage was the worst she has seen.

“We have seen an unprecedented demand over the last 18 months. When a property comes up for rent, it gets snapped up straight away. With each rental, around 10-15 people will apply,” Ms Webb told the Free Press.

“Properties are being purchased by owner occupiers rather than investors. This obviously takes away properties we can offer as rentals.

“This creates a problem where you have individuals and especially families of four or five people with nowhere to go.

“The trend is likely to continue as fewer investors are joining the market.

Property manager Christine Deacon said in her time working with Border Property Exchange she has never seen so few rentals available.

“Five years ago, we would have up to 10 rentals available at one time,” she said.

“Now, the market is so tight that if we get three incredible applicants for one rental, it becomes really difficult for us to choose.

“It’s also hard for people selling houses and purchasing property. They might be moving interstate and wanting a six-month short-term rental in the meantime, but landlords are looking for people who want stay for at least twelve months.”

Ms Webb said people can improve their chances of finding a rental by making sure their finances were in order before applying.

“Financial history and good references are probably the two most important factors for us,” she said.

According to latest REINSW survey, vacancies have remained tight across much of Australia over the last 18 months.

“The market has been far from ‘the norm’ since April last year, experiencing a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs as landlords and tenants alike have done their best to respond to unpredictable market conditions,” REINSW Chief Executive Officer Mr McKibbin said.

“Vacancy rates in the regions remain historically low and have continued to tighten.

“The Central West was the only area to record an increase in vacancies during September, though this increase was only slight, and the Riverina and South Coast areas remained stable.

“All other regional areas recorded drops, indicating that the residential rental market continues to find itself at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impact of increasing vaccination rates and the further easing of restrictions is only just starting to trickle through to the residential rental market.

“It’s a case of ‘watch this space’ for the next few months – and we will be watching with great interest.”