Rent crisis continues
No end in sight for housing shortfall
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.