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Rental ‘Spike’ Leaves Renters Out Of Pocket

By Ray White Whitsunday

A real estate industry insider has called for State Government intervention to kerb the sky-rocketing cost of rental properties in the Whitsundays following Cyclone Debbie.

The source attached to a well known Whitsunday real estate company suggests agents are profiting in the wake of the Category 4 storm which hit the Whitsunday coast in March last year.

“We are having excessive increases (and) there is no honour amongst anyone. Tenants are too scared to complain because they will get blacklisted and property managers have become god right now,” she said.

“What we need is a legislative amendment which says they cannot hike the rent up within 12 months of a natural disaster.

Felicity Moore, media and communications manager at the Real Estate Institute of Queensland fell short of describing increased transactions and the growing weekly median rental price a boom but did say the institute’s data is showing a “spike”.

“At this point is is a very isolated short term spike and its the sort of thing we are watching and we will see how things go over the next couple of quarters but we are a long way from calling it a boom just yet.

The all-dwelling vacancy rate has tracked down significantly from 10 per cent in March 2017 to 2.1 per cent in January 2018.

Increased demand for rental properties driven by an itinerant workforce moving to the Whitsundays to complete insurance work and kick start the island recovery has contributed to a reduction in vacancy rates.

Increased demand has let to a higher rental price.

The median weekly rental cost of a two bedroom unit in Cannonvale has jumped from $200 per week in the September quarter on 2017 to $220 in the September quarter of 2018 according to the REIQ.

However the big mover has been the price of a two bedroom unit in Airlie Beach which has increased 14 per cent from $263 to $300 per week in form the September quarter on 2016 to 2017.

Cannonvale renter, Sandra Neill, said she was paying $370 per week when the cyclone hit.

That figure was increase by the agent to $400 PW and now she has been issued a notice to leave because the agent intends to re-list the property for $450PW.

“It makes me angry and last night I was in tears over it,” she said.

” I am like ‘what have I done wrong?’ you cant’ help thinking that even though they have rung you and said it was the owners.”

Ms Neill said she now has to find accommodation for herself and her teenage daughter but her options have been limited.

“It’s been really hard. One of the houses I looked at yesterday was on the market for $320 18 months ago and now it $380. Definitely the market gone up rent wise due to the cyclone.”

Executive officer at the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, Rebecca Woods said low income earners and those on disability support pensions have been greatly affected by the rising cost of Whitsunday rental properties.

“As a community we are faced with a lot of people who are in a much worse position (financially) than they were this time last year,” she said.

“They don’t have a choice, people are leaving the Whitsundays. They are living week to week trying to manage and offer they are missing out.

“Missing out on a meal a day in order to try and save some money in order to afford that meet increase.

Ms Woods described a situation where real estate agents were approaching property owners and recommending they make they capitalise on this “opportune” time.

The unnamed real estate insider told the Whitsunday Times, many agents were hiking rents without the owner’s knowledge.

“The agents have the authority to act on behalf of the landlord’s best interests. That means a exponential increase in cash flow for the real estate agent because they derive an income form the percentage from the rent they collect,” she said.

“It could be 8.8 per cent of the total weekly amount, plus for every new tenant they sign they get a let fee which is the equivalent of one week’s rent and every lease renewal they get 50 per cent of the let fee.

This explained why there has been a push from agents to sign tenants on periodical tenancies to a short term fixed term tenancy agreement, the industry insider said.

“They are banking on the public not stepping up and fighting, they (renters) are between a rock and hard pace. If they fought with the RTA and final they will be evicted with.”

Ms Woods of the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre said “I have witnessed cased where people simply cant afford the rent any more”.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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