Western Australia is in the middle of a huge rental crisis with desperate tenants being forced from their homes and vacancies hitting an all-time low.

The end of the government’s COVID-19 emergency moratorium in March that has prevented rent rises end evictions will see many people left without a home or struggling to pay their weekly bills. Tenants have been left with no choice but to face steep price increases or eviction.

Rochelle Rhodes and her two young boys are one of the many facing the tough decision of paying higher rent or not having a home.

Her rent price has increased from $400 to $450 over the last month and she has been left in a “really tight position for money” going forward.

“I have to cut back on everyday spending activities like grocery shopping and might not be able to afford medical fees for my youngest boy who requires regular medication,” she said. 

“As a single income household raising two young boys it is going to affect us greatly going forward. I know other friends who are having their rent increased by over $100 who are desperate for help, so the fact that I have only had a $50 increase is actually considered lucky.”

Rochelle is not alone. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia has estimated that rentals will increase by an average of 15 percent, making it unaffordable for many WA families.

Ray White Real Estate Agent Sangita Forrest says the number of people she is seeing come through her home opens has increased since COVID has hit the property market.

“If it’s a family home of four by two which is very much in demand right now in over two home opens you could probably see best part of 80 interested buyers,” she said.

Sangita’s recent buyers have told her that it makes more sense for them to buy right now rather than face the increasingly difficult and over expensive rental market.

“Obviously with rents being up and interest rates being low it makes more sense for people to pay their mortgage instead of rent if they can afford to get a mortgage,” she said.

 She is now getting multiple offers on properties after vacancies for rentals have hit a 40-year low. The current homes she is putting on the market are now higher in price and receiving multiple offers.

According to a recent rent report from Domain the average house prices had risen by $25 a week making it an average of $420 a week rent during the first few months of 2021. Units were also reported to have risen to an average of $350 a week, making Perth rents the highest annual growth in the nation at 13.5 percent for houses and 12.9 percent for units. 

Young adults and students are also being hit hard by the ongoing rent crisis. Edith Cowan University student Danika White has been looking for a rental for almost 6 months now after having to return home due to her previous lease running out.

“Every time I go to apply for a house or visit a home open it feels like all I am getting is constant rejection. Because I’m a student not earning a full-time income, I will always have double income families or FIFO workers chosen over me and there is no possible way to compete,” she said.

“I have spoken to real estate agents on multiple occasions asking them what I can do to better my application to increase my chances of being successful. I was actually told on one occasion that no matter what I did for my application it still wouldn’t be enough in the market today because as a casual worker I will be overlooked and higher earners will always be chosen over me, so it leaves me with nowhere to go and nothing more I can really do.”

Danika and many of her peers are all fighting for a place at the moment and it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting anywhere anytime soon. She said it’s really hard for her to keep hope of finding a rental when she’s received so many setbacks, but she is hopeful something will come up soon so that she can get out of home and take the pressure off her large household.

The spike in rental prices is not only affecting students and families but is also leading to a spike in online scams, a higher demand for storage spaces to store household items and many forced to surrender pets with dog shelters seeing more and more pets being given away because there is nowhere to keep them.

“All we want is some stability and a place to call home without the stress of price increases or being forced out. The government needs to do something for those of us suffering and they need to do it now,” Rochelle said.  ​​​​​​​

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