Regional housing shortage places families at risk of homelessness

Hannah Sparks 21 January 2021 28

An aerial view of Yass town. Photo: Supplied.

Beth Stevenson is a single mother of two and she could be homeless soon if she is unable to secure rental accommodation in the regional NSW town of Yass.

Since March 2020, Beth and her two boys have been looking for a three-bedroom home with a six-to-12-month lease in Yass, where the two boys attend school.

They currently rent a house in Goulburn, but are tired from the two-hour round trip on weekdays and were told late last year they would need to move out as the landlord intends to sell. The landlord extended the family’s lease, but told Beth this week that time is running out.

Beth had hoped to move to Yass before her sons return to school after the summer holidays, particularly as her eldest is heading into year 12. However, she hasn’t had any luck and is restricted to Yass.

Unfortunately, Beth’s story is shared by many people who have found themselves locked out of the regional town’s rental market due to the limited number of rental properties available and increasing prices.

Ray White Yass real estate agent George Southwell says the shortage of rentals in Yass has been a problem for the past six years. However, he said there has been a spike in demand for rentals during the past 12 months and the value of rent per week has risen significantly in that time.

READ ALSO: Myriad factors contribute to coastal housing shortage

He’s not wrong, with Domain’s latest Rental Report showing the price of rent in Yass has risen by 25 per cent in the past five years.

What’s more, rental listings are down by 50 per cent compared to this time last year at Ray White Yass.

“What is really putting pressure on people is the fact that we’re getting multiple applications – up to 15 – per property, which means the applicant has to be right at the top of the list to have a chance, and it is coming down to small, niggly things when landlords are choosing the tenant,” says George.

Among those niggly things are often pets. Despite having exceptional references and owning property in Canberra and Murrumbateman, which are currently part of a divorce settlement, Beth has been told her cat and dog are an issue with some landlords.

Now is not a good time for property prices to be rising either, as many people are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beth is a qualified dental nurse, but lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic and hasn’t been able to find work that starts late enough and finishes early enough for her to take the boys to and from school.

“A lot of places want you to work from 8 am until 6 pm,” she says. “The kids go back to school in a couple of weeks and I don’t have a plan B. It’s all very stressful.”

Aside from the shortage of rental properties, contractors working on nearby wind turbine farms and the Barton Highway duplication who can offer more than the asking price, are also pushing locals out of the market.

READ ALSO: Department of Planning delays fixing Yass’ dirty water

Touie and Denise Smith recently listed their rental in Yass and received 20 expressions of interest in 24 hours, including from wind turbine contractors who offered up to $200 more per week.

George says some companies are prepared to pay up to $1000 per week for workers and executives.

Charities such as Argyle Housing and Anglicare are also unable to help people such as Beth. They told her they have no available properties.

Argyle Housing said it was a real concern and is hoping to soon complete an 11 villa and townhouse development at 34 Pollux Street in Yass.

The charity has submitted a development application to Yass Valley Council and hopes to start construction in 2021.

That application was prepared to ensure any future development on the site could be considered under the 300 square metre lot size rules and not under the new 400 square metre rules.

Once complete, the development will provide a mix of affordable housing properties that will be owned and managed by Argyle Housing, plus properties that will be privately owned.

George says now is a good time for others to buy properties to rent in Yass, but to get in quick as prices are rising.

Original Article published by Hannah Sparks on About Regional.

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28 Responses to Regional housing shortage places families at risk of homelessness
HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:07 pm 19 Jan 21

Along, sadly, with many, many others Beth and her boys are victims of a perfect storm of policy stuff-ups by federal, state/territory and local governments and the banking system, including the RBA.

Locally, it has been made worse by a big-spending ACT government, which has become heavily dependent on property-related revenues, and seems to have convinced itself that a property taxation system which is favoured by well-off economists can do no harm – regardless of how much revenue it gouges from that sector of the economy, with resultant increases in Canberra housing costs and a ripple effect throughout the surrounding region.

Rather than stubbornly persisting with its Woden light rail plans (which will do nothing to solve this most pressing of problems – except for rough sleepers in a shiny new Woden station) the ACT government should have made housing its No. 1 priority – a proportionate response, along the lines of the $5bn. committed by the Andrews government to social housing, is what an ACT Labor government would do in these circumstances.

Shane Miller Shane Miller 9:41 am 19 Jan 21

This is the flow-on effect from such high housing costs in Canberra, so many people are moving out to Yass.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 7:07 pm 19 Jan 21

    Shane Miller careful, you might upset Barr’s supporters

    Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 10:20 pm 19 Jan 21

    Yass is getting overpopulated now.

Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 8:10 am 19 Jan 21

Prior to coVid, government was allowing record immigration. This didn't help the rental crisis across parts of Australia

    Helen Bodiroza Helen Bodiroza 10:54 am 19 Jan 21

    Clarrie Crawford someone who tells it like it is .. spot on

    Peter de Vries Peter de Vries 12:23 pm 19 Jan 21

    Clarrie Crawford

    Not quite. The 'record' migration was more than 10 years ago under Krudd.

    2008-2009 was 299,000

    2018-2019 was 239,000

    That makes 2018-2019 20% lower than the record.

    Just 'telling it how it is'. 😉

Kimberley Lloyd Kimberley Lloyd 6:17 am 19 Jan 21

This is the story everywhere. Have you actually had a look at houses for sale at the moment. Do you have a look at the unimproved value of the land normally sits around 525,000 and then they want $1.2 million for the property. The house definitely is not worth $500,000 or so and you will definitely be left with no money for improvements. What happened to the market to skew it in such a way?

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 10:28 pm 18 Jan 21

Speculators are buying property that should be for families. And if you are obscenely wealthy why would'nt you? 10% a year in the ACT, Libs looking after you federally....i have peraonally seen speculatora paying way over value at auctions this month. All they have to do is sit and wait. Families can have the scraps.

Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 9:34 pm 18 Jan 21

Probably because Canberra is no longer affordable so people move to drivable towns outside of Canberra

Michelle Preston Michelle Preston 9:13 pm 18 Jan 21

Property prices in Yass are over priced.

Ricky Gill Ricky Gill 5:49 pm 18 Jan 21

Beth Stevenson is that U?

Paul Leins Paul Leins 5:17 pm 18 Jan 21

Sadly this is the story all around this region. Prices keep going up up up and the government has abdicated any responsibility to provide affordable housing. If they're not going to do anything to moderate the market, they need to do more to fill the gaps.

It's also time the govt made pet ownership something that was not the business of the property owners. Dogs and cats live on average 15 years, and making people chose between beloved pets and having access to accommodation fails to acknowledge how quickly circumstances can change. Pets are family members.

Luke Ashe Luke Ashe 4:17 pm 18 Jan 21

Is there a housing shortage or are there empty houses? That people might be hoarding?

Koori Kween Koori Kween 3:44 pm 18 Jan 21

The lucky country aye 🙄

Jacqui Hardiman Jacqui Hardiman 3:32 pm 18 Jan 21

Yet they are knocking down perfectly good housing places here in Canberra due to selling the large properties. Makes my blood boil

Sue McIntosh Sue McIntosh 3:22 pm 18 Jan 21

Same thing happening at the south coast. Multiple people applying for each house and forcing families into tents once their lease is up, all on the pretense of 'the owner wants to sell'. One real estate agent said she hasn't seen it so bad since 2002.

Joan James Joan James 3:17 pm 18 Jan 21

Been a problem in Canberra for years now.

Lyn Al Lyn Al 3:10 pm 18 Jan 21

The problem is investers are sick of some tenants trashing their properties and tenants being allowd to get away with it. Some property managers are just plain useless Rents for some properties are hidious over priced and people taking rental prperties off the market and renting as Air B & B's and now with covid many people and buying up those houses in regional areas because they people can leave the city and work from home via internet and away from covid outbreaks.

Jeffery Baker Jeffery Baker 3:09 pm 18 Jan 21

It’s easier to get a place in Sydney than what is is in Yass

Rheyce Spears Rheyce Spears 2:38 pm 18 Jan 21

This needs to become the #1 political issue in the next election cycle. Governments have been sitting on a looming housing crisis for too long, now what is a housing crisis in the cities is spreading to multiple regional areas and the end result is increasing homeless rates and the ruining of any disposable income for anyone except existing homeowners and investors.

For the life of me I don’t know why people let it get this bad.

    Paul Leins Paul Leins 5:19 pm 18 Jan 21

    Rheyce Spears Neither party has any interest in solving the problem. Ideologically, the current state of the housing market is exactly the sort of thing that the Libs want. As for Labour, their little identity crisis means that while they might pay lip service to looking out for the average person, they also can't say no to the delicious developer money.

Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 2:37 pm 18 Jan 21

Why not get permission to live n your own property,while divorce is finalised I’m sure that would be a solution if all else fails,or property has tenants they can be asked to move as you are entitled to move into your own property under some circumstances

    Elyse Crawford Elyse Crawford 8:46 pm 18 Jan 21

    Amanda Adams still the same cycle, those tenants would then be homeless.

    Jacqueline Bennett Jacqueline Bennett 8:26 am 19 Jan 21

    And you have to give the tenant 90 days notice. And if they haven't found a place in that time and moved out, then the process of eviction starts. If it's inside a current lease agreement, the owner may have to pay moving costs for the tenant. Not as easy as you think.

Melissa Kimberley Melissa Kimberley 2:31 pm 18 Jan 21

Its every where not just yass

Scott Bell Scott Bell 2:16 pm 18 Jan 21

Government should be investing in housing in town to break the burden on family’s struggling to find a home

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