Rental challenge

Rental challenge

Renting a home in the Limestone Coast continues to prove a challenge, with an industry report finding that regional South Australian rental prices jumped 8.6% in the year to March 2024.

The PropTrack Market Insight Report found that rental prices in regional SA were up 2.7% in the March quarter, with the median advertised rent reaching $380.

Mount Gambier’s The Property Co senior manager Catherine Miles said she has “most definitely” seen the price of rentals increase in Mount Gambier due to a rise in demand from outside consumers.

“Pretty much since COVID hit, we have seen the continued rise in rent prices. There was a lot of financial issues at the time COVID hit but I feel that one of the pulling reasons why rent prices are also rising is the demand,” she said.

“In my personal opinion, we are getting a lot of people relocating from the city that have now worked out they do not have to work in an office, they can work at home.

“The affordability down here is much lower for them so we do have a lot of those sort of tenants coming through the system which is taking away the availability for properties for people that are already located here.

“We are getting a lot of families that cannot meet the affordability in the city come down here trying to seek accommodation but then on the offhand they are also having issues gaining employment.”

Ms Miles said The Property Co has had to expand its financial criteria so that an applicant’s rent return is less then 40% of their income compared to 30% previously.

“When it comes to affordability, we assess our tenants that if their rent return is more then 30% of their income, they are deemed not financially viable for the actual property, in this instance we have had to stretch that 30% because most people are not making the 30% threshold,” she said.

“We see most tenant’s applications come in probably close to 40% when it comes to affordability and we have to give that leeway because if we do not they have got nowhere to go.

“I think at the end of the day rent has gone up faster than inflation and some of the key income sources such as Jobseeker and pensions still have not risen to meet what the rental demand actually is actually asking at the moment.

“We understand how hard it is for tenants and a lot of people are clutching at straws to get rentals and we are trying our best to help everyone, not just the one person in particular. We do feel sorry for those that are really struggling at the moment.”

On only 22 of the 58 properties advertised in Mount Gambier meet the median rental price of $380, most of which are flats and units which are often not suitable for families with multiple children.

Ms Miles said the increasing price of rentals and cost of living crisis was having a dire impact on families.

“I can see families going without basic essentials in their home just to meet the rent return and have a roof over their heads,” she said.

“You have also got the increase of food prices, fuel, electricity and water and if you accommodate that into their weekly cost and then take out their rent, it is leaving a lot of families with the bare minimum to live on.

“I do not think it (rental price increases) will end in the near future, I think it will steady out but I think it will continue to rise.

“Over time we have had numerous occasions where we have had 0% occupancy which really shows as an agency, rental properties are going quite quickly.

“There is still that heavy demand there for rental properties within Mount Gambier.”

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