But something else is going on.
A story in the Bully over the weekend claims that the Gold Coast is in the midst of a “rental crisis”, showcasing a family of five who live in a tent in Jacobs Well as proof.
I feel for this family, genuinely. They are undoubtedly facing their own crisis. Job loss, illness and other issues have combined to land these guys where they are – camping for shelter and living off baked beans.
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But as sad as their circumstances are, the Gold Coast is not in a rental crisis.
It’s basic supply and demand; sometimes we have fewer homes and more renters, pushing rental prices up. Sometimes we have more homes and fewer renters, pushing prices down
Right now we have the lowest mortgage interest rates in recent history, which should translate to more renters becoming homebuyers. But we seem to have a huge number of renters here regardless.
Still, even though vacancies are very low on the Coast, we’re not in a rental crisis. What we do have is a compassion crisis – and by that I mean, we don’t have a system set up to help people get back on their feet.
Take this family. To get back into a rental home, they need to stump up four weeks rent as bond, plus the first two weeks of rent. If they can find a cheapie rental home with the help of NRAS for $350 to $400 a week, that’s still around $2,000 they need to save.
When you’re looking for work and your income is zero, that’s next to impossible.
Now I’m a landlord, and I’m compassionate towards tenants. I’ve rented my property to a tenant with a bad rental history before; it bit me on the behind when she did a runner 9 months in, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Even as a compassionate landlord, however, letting people move in without paying bond is just too risky.
So what we need is a system in place to help get vulnerable families, like the Grays, into homes, without them having them fork out thousands upfront. Something that would also work for victims of domestic violence, who have to make a move in a hurry and don’t have the ability to save up enough money for a bond deposit.
I think I’ve found a solution.
What if the government could front up the bond as a loan? They could basically act as a bond loaner, but without the extortionately high interest rates. The tenant could then pay it off on a weekly basis as part of their rent for 6-12 months – with a small fee or interest rate payable, of course.
This way the government helps get more people into affordable housing, but without handing out welfare. They make a small profit on loans, which helps to fund the whole program, so it becomes cost-neutral.
And best of all, there are less Gold Coast families living in tents.
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