Hundreds in Ballarat are battling through a ‘housing crisis’ as the city’s rental vacancy rate remains at a record low.
The rental vacancy rate in Ballarat dropped to 0.7 per cent in November and remained that rate throughout December, the lowest rental vacancy rate in the state.
It is a drop from 1.6 per cent in December 2017 that concerns many who are searching for a place to call home.
Ballarat is certainly under pressure with not enough properties on the market to meet demand.Gil King, REIV
Ms May* has been working to secure a rental property since August and is desperate for a landlord to give her a chance.
The 55-year-old shared her fear of homelessness with The Courier just weeks out from Christmas and has been sleeping on friends floors and couches since.
The stress and insecurity of not having a home has impacted her health and worsened her multiple sclerosis, snowballing to four nights in hospital this week.
After attending dozens of rental inspections in Ballarat, Melton, Geelong and as far as Avoca, Ms May is hoping a two bedroom unit in Geelong she will inspect on Monday may be her lucky break.
Ballarat’s rental vacancy rate sits well below the regional Victorian total rate of 1.2 per cent and Victorian total rate of two per cent.
REIV chief executive Gil King said a vacancy rate of three per cent was required for a healthy rental market.
“Ballarat is certainly under pressure with not enough properties on the market to meet demand,” he said.
“Regional cities such as Ballarat have been increasingly popular and accessible for people who previously lived in Melbourne’s suburbs because the commute time to the CBD is comparable, they can get more for their money and the culinary and entertainment options rival those found in the city.
“The Victorian property market is under significant pressure at the moment which is damaging investor confidence and stifling investor activity. This is due to a range of factors including tighter bank lending standards, land tax and stamp duty surcharges for foreign buyers, the passing of the Residential Tenancies Act and mooted negative gearing reforms.”
Ms May said she has great references, has worked almost her entire life, has owned a few businesses, four years ago owned her own home and up until August, had been renting with the same landlord for three years.
She said there were more than 20 people at almost every rental inspection she attended and felt landlords were choosing to rent to families and working couples rather than single women like herself.
Ballarat Real Estate director Ron Morrison said he expected the demand for rental properties to continue throughout the year as Ballarat’s population grows and more stringent banking regulations make it harder for first home buyers to purchase property.
While renters are encountering increasing difficulties to secure a property in a tight market, they are also facing a rising median weekly cost of rent.
The median weekly rent for a four bedroom home in Ballarat was $390 in December, up from $360 in December 2017, while the rent for two and three bedroom homes in Ballarat rose $10 in the past year.
“I think encouraging investors to buy property is the only way to relieve the demand,” Mr Morrison said.
“It all comes back to supply and demand. If there are more people buying investing properties, it will satisfy the demand and therefore there won’t be such shortage in housing accommodation.”
*not her real name