Rental market stress

INCREASED numbers of tradesmen and contractors at East Sale RAAF Base and at Longford’s Esso gas plant have been contributing factors in the shortage of rental properties in the local market, according to local agents.

Agents have been actively seeking rental properties to meet the increased demand and hope the employment boost will lead to sustainable growth in the local rental market.

Security, waste management, catering, property maintenance, fuel supplies, rescue and fire fighting services are among the hundreds of jobs locals have secured under the latest round of contracts at RAAF Base, East Sale.

LJ Hooker Sale agent Elise Kiss said with the increase in employment, investors could capitalise on sustainable growth in the rental market. She said current demand would deliver strong returns for investors.

“It’s a busy time anyway with (defence) transfers, and yes, there is a shortage,” Ms Kiss said.

“With the work in the area we hope it is growth that is sustainable so the opportunity is there to capitalise; there is strong return on rent.

“Some owners … are furnishing (their rental properties) and that is another opportunity to capitalise on investment.”

It has been estimated 990 jobs have been created either directly or indirectly during the construction period at East Sale’s RAAF Base.

Construction of Esso-BHP Billiton’s $1 billion gas conditioning plant, which also began last year, has also provided a boom in employment, with about 250 direct construction jobs and additional indirect employment opportunities.

Redevelopment works at the RAAF base, carried out by managing contractor Thiess, is expected to be complete at the end of next year.

Projects including the air traffic control complex, School of Air Warfare training facilities and 180-unit live-in accommodation are closer to completion.

Other projects under construction include a new gym, flight line maintenance facilities, chapel, community centre and engineering service upgrades.

Graham Chalmer Real Estate rental property manager Rod Tatterson said supply and demand meant many property owners were enjoying an increase in rental prices.

“The activity at the gas plant and RAAF base has really put the pressure on,” he said.

“We still have a lot of defence people to come in, they usually apply mid-December for mid January.

“It’s reflected in the (rental) prices; supply and demand means prices are going up.

“Unfortunately, for some properties, your average Joe Blow is paying up to $50 more (a week) than they were six to 12 months ago.”