12th October 2020

THE “grim, sad” state of the Fraser Coast rental market is taking its toll on residents struggling to find housing.

This is according to Ros Connor, Senior Tenancy Advice Worker at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

Ros 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:

  • fixed-term agreement extensions for COVID-19 impacted tenants;
  • ending agreement provisions that prevent 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 an arrangement to manage the COVID-19 impacts on their tenancies;
  • 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.”

For more information please call the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre on 4194 3000