'Grim': Tenancy chiefs talk Coast's record rental crisis

A SENIOR tenancy adviser has weighed in on the low vacancy rates impacting on rental tenants across the Fraser Coast.

It comes after a woman told of the stressful seven week struggle she had trying to find a house after her rental home sold and the new owners indicated they wished to live at the property.

Ros Connor, Senior Tenancy Advice Worker at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre, said the "grim, sad" state of the rental market was impacting on those searching for properties.

She said the Fraser Coast was experiencing extremely low vacancy rates - 1.2 per cent, as of August.

"In all my years of providing tenancy advice and housing information, I have not seen it this way," Ros said.

"The local situation is very grim and sad."

Ros said while there was no easy solution to this housing crisis, the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre supported removing no grounds evictions from tenancy legislation.

"We are seeing tenants that are feeling anxious about speaking up regarding repairs or enforcing their tenancy rights because their lease is almost up and they do not want a Notice to Leave without grounds," she said.

"Current tenancy legislation allows no grounds evictions and in the current private rental market, this can create fear."

Ros said the region was experiencing increased rates of homelessness as well as a lack of security in private rentals.

This was likely to worsen as the following COVID-19 moratorium measures lifted on September 29, she said.

That included fixed term agreement extensions for COVID-19 impacted tenants, ending agreement provisions that prevented property owners from ending tenancies with COVID-19 impacted tenants without grounds and provide additional grounds for parties to end tenancies; adjusted rent and bond processes that support parties to negotiate arrangement to manage the COVID-19 impacts on their tenancies and mandatory conciliation of COVID-19 related tenancy disputes through the Residential Tenancies Authority.

"We are seeing tenants that have received a Notice to Leave as the property has sold, or owners want to move back in, so tenants apply for another property, but given the low vacancy rate there are up to 40 people and more at viewings and they cannot secure a rental," Ros said.

"Families have to split up, sleep at different friends' or family members' houses, sleep at caravan parks in tents and camper trailers or in holiday style accommodation.

"This is not a long term or secure option and often they must move out over school holidays or long weekends."

PRD Maryborough property manager Julie Harvey was doubtful the region's rental crisis would worsen after the COVID-19 moratorium measures were lifted.

She said people were already struggling to find properties in the previous six months, even with the moratorium in place.

The agency currently has no rental properties available due the shortage, but people were still calling every day looking for somewhere to rent, Ms Harvey said.

Ms Harvey said it was hard to pinpoint any one factor that had led to the shortage the region was experiencing.

She said it was difficult for those trying to find a home.

"It's hard to turn people away knowing they will struggle to find anything," she said.

"They all seem quite anxious about the fact that they can't find anything."

Some were being priced out of the market, as rental prices soared due to demand.

Ms Harvey said it would be the perfect time for people to invest in building an investment property, as demand was greatly outstripping supply.

Ms Harvey said potential tenants needed to present themselves and their application forms in the best way possible to give themselves the strongest chance of securing a property.

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