Murwillumbah has become a very difficult town for home-seekers to find a rental.
Murwillumbah has become a very difficult town for home-seekers to find a rental.

Rents being driven up due to housing shortage

TWEED shire residents searching for a rental home are having to compete against as many as dozens of applicants due to demand outstripping supply in the region.

The shortage is driving up rental prices in the shire and placing huge pressure on family budgets.

Even those with good incomes and an impeccable renting history are struggling to secure rentals as landlords have many options, say real estate agents.

Murwillumbah's community centre Nullum House co-ordinator Amanda Lindh said soaring rents in the town were a major contributor to clients' financial stress

Ms Lindh said as a result of the shortage of options, Murwillumbah rents were now on par with the Gold Coast.

It was one of the factors that led to Nullum House launching a community food pantry this month, offering discounted groceries to take the pressure off household budgets.

Murwillumbah resident Gail Mendes said she was competing with as many as 40 applicants every time she applied for a rental in the town.

Ms Mendes had to leave her last rental as the landlord is placing it on the market.

She said she was currently sleeping on friends' couches.

Professionals Pottsville property manager Shannon Kofoed said they had a waiting list of 20 to 30 pre-qualified tenants.

"It's a good time to be a landlord; not so much a tenant," Mr Kofoed said.

Erin Singh, holiday property manager at Pottsville's First National Real Estate, said over the last 12 months they were getting upwards of 15 applicants a month per rental property as demand to live in the seaside village grew.

Some new residents to the town were buying up homes that once were in the rental pool, reducing the amount available.

"I've actually got quite a few people staying in holiday accommodation purely because they can't get anywhere to rent," Ms Singh said.

"In the last 12 months there's been a massive influx of people wanting to live here.

"Owners are being picky (about tenants) because they can afford to be."

In figures released this week by the Real Estate Institue of NSW, the residential vacancy rate on the Northern Rivers for the last month was just 1.1%.

That is the second lowest vacancy rate over the last 12 months with only November 2014 posting a lower figure with 1.0.

The region's vacancy rate is the lowest in regional NSW.

Have you struggled to find a rental home? Email us at letters(@)

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