Freedomroo – Desperate renters being squeezed out

Employee takes cheeky gibe at CEO Christine Holgate

Desperate renters are being squeezed out of the Gold Coast and Brisbane rental markets, with some forced to stay in cars and caravan parks, agents say.

Dozens of potential tenants are competing for scarce rental properties with some offering up to $50 more than the asking price to secure a home.

First quarter results for 2021 show 70 per cent of Queensland’s rental vacancies remain under one per cent according to Real Estate Institute of Queensland figures released in April.

“There’s an over demand of tenants and lack of stock,” said Carmen Kennedy from Coomera Realty on the Gold Coast.

Two recent rental properties on the Gold Coast’s Coomera area both drew more than 40 people to inspections, she said.

“They weren’t aware, they thought it would try and help them get the property over other people applying.

“They were just so desperate, staying in cars and sleeping at caravan parks. It’s been pretty tough couple of months for people out there.”

The development is being driven by record-low rates, government support measures and a pandemic-driven migration, pushing Brisbane’s private rental market’s vacancy rates to their lowest levels since October 2012, the REIQ says.

In the last year, rental vacancies dropped 1.1 per cent across the Brisbane local government area, while Greater Brisbane saw the market tighten by 0.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast rental market tightened to reach a record low of 0.6 per cent in the last 15 years of data records. The western suburb of Oxenford had the lowest vacancy rate of just 0.1 per cent.

Ms Kennedy said advertised on its rental promotional material for people not to call or email the agency because it was so overwhelmed.

“We received over 200 inquiries per property, so it’s just too overwhelming for us to do our job to try and speak to every single person who’s interested in the properties,” she said.

“That was probably six weeks ago now and we haven’t had another available property since then.

“We’ve had lots of people crying to us, begging for properties, leaving domestic violence situations and having to get accommodation for them and their kids.

“It’s pretty hard to have to process those applications.

“Everyone has a bit of a situation at the moment where they don’t have friends or family to stay with, so they’re in caravan parks or staying in short term accommodation and it’s costing them double the rent if they were renting a normal house.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Natgroup Real Estate in the Gold Coast suburb of Helensvale has a register of more than 1200 people looking for a rental property.

Manager Edgar Natolo said people were applying for properties without seeing them in person, based on the online ad alone.

“We’re now leasing them to pre-approved tenants, so they’re not even hitting the market,” Mr Natolo said.

“You probably get 60 inquiries in one day and 30 turn up for the open home inspections, and by the time you get back to the office you’re flooded with applications.

“It is a bit sad because a lot of them do cry when one of the girls rings them up and says they’ve missed out.

“It’s tough.”
Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said some renters were being asked to leave without grounds, then seeing the property have a significant rent rise.

“Some of those people might have been living there for some time, paid the rent all the time and then asked to leave,” she said.

“Then they’re turning up to inspect properties and there’s large numbers of people there and they’re having to put in multiple applications.

“That’s pretty stock and standard in terms of reports I’m getting from across the state.”

Ms Carr said some renters were offering long periods of rent upfront, which agents aren’t allowed to ask for, but can accept.

“Sometimes there’s subtle encouragement for offering up higher rent or a longer period of rent upfront,” she said.

“It’s a very difficult situation for renters statewide. It’s not just Queensland, it’s across Australia.

“They’re under enormous pressure.”

Ms Carr said some renters were being taken to the tribunal for not moving out while others were staying at inappropriate accommodation like boarding houses or couch surfing.

The situation was preventing renters from asserting their rights, for fear they would be pushed out and would have to find another property.

“You don’t ask for repairs, you don’t push for things you need or want in the property,” she said.

“You don’t assert your rights, basically.”

melissa.iaria1@news.com.au

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