WARRACKNABEAL is suffering through a rental housing crisis, with no houses currently available for rent in the town, a unique circumstance rarely seen in the town’s history.

The Warracknabeal district has always had a strong rental market, but right at the moment it is 100 percent full with more demand for rental accommodation than supply available.

“Investors buying into the market has slowed a little and I put that down to the uncertainty around government legislation being proposed in regards to negative gearing and changes to the residential tenancy Act,” said John Hadley, Director of NorthWest Real Estate.

Applicants

“Last week we had one single property come onto the market and we had ten applicants for it, which means we could easily have filled nine other houses in one go if
the properties were available,” Mr Hadley said.

“We have several people we are trying to find rental accommodation for and there is just nothing available, with a strong likelihood of people being forced to leave town just to find somewhere to live,” he said.

I can’t recall it ever being this tight in my time in the real estate industry. Even when we
were housing Mitchell Water contractors working on the Wimmera Mallee Pipe line, we still had houses available to rent.

Some recent media attention on the affordable prices of houses in the town has brought in ‘owner occupiers’ who in our case, bought rental houses to live in themselves, making the rental market even tighter.

“If there are no houses to rent then it is hard to attract new people to the town to work, if they have nowhere to live,” Mr Hadley said.

Vacancy rate

Yarriambiack Shire CEO Jessie Holmes said, “current rate statistics show that there is a house vacancy rate in the township and district of about 16.8 percent (excluding
seasonal use), which means those houses could be available for rental if the right circumstances were in place. Some may not be up to scratch or tenantable, but then there is the opportunity for the owners to sell or renovate these properties.”

“Perhaps there is an opportunity for a ‘rental house forum’ in the community to show these property owners rental can be quite lucrative,” she said.

However Elders Real Estate manager Nick McIntyre believes rental housing in the
community has always been at a premium in the district.

“Yes, there is most certainly a chronic shortage of rental housing at the moment, but
this has been an ongoing issue for many years,” he said.

Rental rates

“It’s very much a case of supply and demand, but it does seem odd that with rental rates
of around $160 to $200 or better per week, for a typical three bedroom home worth
somewhere around $80,000 to $150,000 mark, that property owners would pass up a yield or return of around 10 percent or in some cases better. You can’t get anything near that sort of return on a bank deposit,” he said.

The Herald understands banks tighter lending policies are also making it difficult for people to purchase their own homes, which is also forcing greater demand on rentals
accommodation as well.

“Home buyers are hostage to the bank lending policy now, they really have made it harder for those wishing to finance a home. They’ve increased deposit percentages and made the lending process far more stringent and put a great deal of pressure on country home buyers,” Mr McIntyre said.

Problem

“The shire is well aware of the problem of obtaining rental housing in the area. We know that it is making it difficult to attract good employees to the area. We currently have a new executive staff member joining the council team and he is having to rent in Horsham and commute to Warracknabeal. It’s not an ideal situation and if we are finding this to be
a problem I am sure other businesses and employers are having difficulty in attracting
good staff due to the problem. It is most certainly imposing on the ability to attract
professional people and ‘grow’ our population,” Ms Holmes said.

“It’s not good for our economy, having staff living outside their employment area.
If they live in Horsham they are unlikely to invest their dollars back into our local businesses, or become a part of our sporting clubs and groups. They will find it difficult to
have an affinity for the town they work in, but don’t live in,” Mr Hadley said.