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Rent hikes of $100 a week: Tenants feel the pinch

Grey Queenslander styler property for rent.
Queenslander for rent in Brisbane where vacancy rates have fallen sharply (Source: Domain).

Claire Howlwoods is a student in her early 20s who has struggled to secure a rental in Brisbane where vacancy rates have dropped to around 1.1 per cent.

She told Yahoo Finance many properties were snapped up before an inspection was announced and that she was competing with cashed-up tenants who could offer higher weekly rates or months of rent in advance.

The rentals that are available aren’t very appealing. Howlwoods said she had been through plenty of expensive shoeboxes.

Even as a student with decent savings, living alone is out of the question. She said her casual job tended not to count as solid income evidence, and she’d been told to consider rental accommodation or to team up with nine-to-fivers to get onto a lease.

Some blame the tough rental market on the backlog of people moving to Brisbane, Howlwoods said, with many said to have postponed their move until the borders opened late last year.

Rent hikes and huge numbers at inspections

Brisbane Boutique Property real estate agent Pelham Marsh, who also manages a few rentals, said his team had been inundated with applications everytime a new rental came on the market.

He said rentals were being snapped up very quickly and huge numbers were attending inspections. Rents were also rising sharply, he said.

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said her team were fielding a lot of calls from people hit with large rent increases or notices to leave because their home was going to be sold or re-advertised on the market at a higher price.

She said price increases varied wildly. Increases of $20-$60 a week were common but she had heard of rents jumping by as much as $100 or more.

“That’s a lot to absorb in the weekly budget.”

She said the rental hikes were pushing renters out to the edges of cities and towns where there were fewer services and transport options.

Carr is not sure why the rental market has tightened so dramatically given there have been no international students or tourists.

“And they will be coming back in soon, so it will likely get worse before it gets better,” she said.

She said people moving interstate were likely partly to blame, as was the use of short-term rentals. She also said many first home buyers had entered the market, which was a positive development.

Competitive market around Australia

The story is the same nation-wide. The national vacancy rate dropped 0.3 percentage points from December to January according to the SQM Research data.

Rates fell in the big cities - Sydney dropped to 2.1 per cent and Melbourne to 2.7 per cent.

Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart have the worst shortages of rental accommodation, with all cities seeing an average below 1 per cent.

It was recently revealed that in Tasmania there were thousands of homes sitting empty owned by investors, sparking calls for a tax on vacant properties.

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