LAWS which stop private, short-term accommodation providers from collecting Job Keeper payments are fueling a rise in Ballarat's rental vacancy rates says the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Ballarat has seen a dramatic climb in rental availability in recent times, although it still remains below what is deemed a healthy three per cent level.
In the three months to March 2019, Ballarat's vacancy rate was at a regional low of just .8 of a per cent. At the same time this year, it sits at 2.9 per cent, the second highest in the state, behind only Shepparton.
With government regulations preventing property owners who rent their homes via online platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz, from accessing the Job Keeper payment, many of those properties have been returned to the market for six, 12 and 18 month rentals.
REIV president Leah Calnan said there had been a concerted push that a number of properties, particularly in bushfire-affected areas, be made available to those who are rebuilding.
"We did a call out when the bushfire season hit earlier in the year," she said. "We were seeking expressions from people to put those properties on the market for 12 months or two years.
"That combined with COVID-19 and the effect it is having on the short term market, we have seen an increase in available properties.
"We expect those increases should remain steady over coming months.
"I think it will probably be around the September holiday period that more short term housing providers as able to make those offerings again."
As of Wednesday, the domain.com.au website showed there were 335 properties in Ballarat on the market for rent.
Also on Wednesday, the New South Wales government announced a lifting of regional travel restrictions on June 1 allowing for overnight stays.
At this stage, Victoria has yet to decide on whether it will do the same as it waits on a backlog of COVID-19 test results to come in, but accommodation providers hope a similar easing of restrictions may follow.
Sovereign Park Motor Inn's Tim Canny said he was hoping for a few bookings in the July school holidays, for what he termed the strongest market of those visiting friends and families.
"There's a positivity from the accommodation association that good things will come from this over the next 6-12 months," Mr Canny said.
Mr Canny said he would back any move to reopen accommodation by June 1.
"it would be great if Victoria did the same thing," he said. "It would stimulate the accommodation market quickly and would be a huge plus for us."
Ms Calnan said it would be critical to the rebuild of the economy that the state government continues to invest in regional areas, which she expects will continue to see rapid growth as more and more people leave the city.
"There is a lifestyle aspect and we've seen it in the Mornington Peninsula, the Bellarine Peninsula and in and around Ballarat and the Daylesford region," she said.
"We will continue to see that as people reevaluate how they balance work, school, and their life on the weekend.
"There are all strong reasons and we need the government to make sure they invest in infrastructure and public transport."
Airbnb was contacted for comment.
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