Rent cri­sis con­tin­ues

No end in sight for housing short­fall

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Peter Car­ruthers Peter.Car­ruthers@newsre­gional me­

A SIN­GLE Whit­sun­day mum-of-four thought it was a bad joke when she re­ceived a let­ter in the mail in­form­ing her that her six-month lease on a Can­non­vale prop­erty wasn’t be­ing re­newed.

Af­ter mov­ing from Bris­bane to start afresh in one of Queens­land’s favourite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions, her world im­ploded around her in a mat­ter of min­utes.

Left with no per­ma­nent ad­dress, she sent her teenage son to live with his fa­ther in Bris­bane and was forced to split up her two teenage daugh­ters while seek­ing new rental ac­com­mo­da­tion.

She spent two har­row­ing months house-hunt­ing be­fore fi­nally be­ing handed the keys to an in­fe­rior re­place­ment home just this week – af­ter more than 10 un­suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Two of the chil­dren are teenagers and have been liv­ing at dif­fer­ent houses and I have been at dif­fer­ent friend’s houses with my two-year-old,” said the be­lea­guered mum, who pre­ferred not be named for fear of be­ing branded a trou­ble-maker by land­lords.

“We up-rooted to be here and start a new life and now that has all gone to s**t and my son has gone back to Brissie.” Deal­ing with the housing cri­sis first hand is ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at the Whit­sun­day Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre, Re­becca Woods.

She had to deal with ten­ants be­ing evicted on the grounds their rental prop­er­ties were “un­live­able” in the im­me­di­ate wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie.

Ms Woods said five months on, leases were al­lowed to ex­pire and ten­ants were given the op­tion to sign a new lease and ac­cept a rental in­crease or va­cate the prop­erty.

“Peo­ple are just tak­ing the higher rate be­cause they feel they have no other op­tion,” she said.

“Ul­ti­mately the land­lord gets their rental in­crease and they get the ten­ants as well.

“At the end of the day, it is their prop­erty and the law is al­ways go­ing to back them.”

Ms Woods said the Whit­sun­day Housing Com­pany and the De­part­ment of Housing had no stock in the Whit­sun­days.

“They are lit­er­ally wait­ing for some­one to move out in or­der to move some­one else in,” she said.

“But in Bowen they do have stock and in Mackay they do have stock so a lot of fam­i­lies are hav­ing to move to those ar­eas if they want to live in af­ford­able housing.

“Or they can couch surf or stay with friends un­til some­thing be­comes avail­able.”

Data from the Rental Te­nan­cies Au­thor­ity re­veals the me­dian rental price for the 4082 post code has in­creased by $100 per week for a four bed­room house in the April to June quar­ter of this year com­pared to 2016.

For a three bed­room house or unit, the me­dian rent has in­creased from $300 to $360 a week in the same time pe­riod.

This is de­spite a neg­a­tive cap­i­tal growth in Air­lie Beach of -2.67% and -2.51% in Can­non­vale.

Prin­ci­pal of Ray White Whit­sun­day, Mark Beale says he can’t see the prob­lem eas­ing off for ten­ants for some time yet with so many tradies still here fix­ing the Deb­bie dev­as­ta­tion.

As for the re­cent rental price in­creases, he says that just comes down to sim­ple sup­ply and de­mand forces.

“Ten­ants may feel that it’s un­fair but that’s the mar­ket when you rent a prop­erty,” he said.

“Ten­ants have had a great run [in the Whit­sun­days] for a long time.”

Ear­lier this month, Ten­ants Queens­land con­firmed it would push for rent-cap­ping in a State Gov­ern­ment ten­ancy law re­form re­view.

A spokesper­son for the De­part­ment of Housing and Pub­lic Works said they un­der­stood the chal­lenges be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in the Whit­sun­day re­gion.

“(The de­part­ment) is still care­fully mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie,” the spokesper­son said.

Any renter need­ing ad­vice or sup­port should con­tact the in­de­pen­dent ad­vice and re­fer­ral ser­vice QSTARS on 1300 744 263.

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