Rental shortages continue in Wellington Shire

The rental market continues to be extremely tight in Wellington Shire.

Josh Farrell

Wellington Shire continues to see a shortage of rentals, as the exodus from Melbourne and rising house prices team up to cause more difficulty for people struggling to find homes.

The Commonwealth Bank and the Regional Australia Institute’s Regional Movers Index showed the number of people that made the move from capital cities to the regions in the June 2021 quarter is 11 per cent higher than the June 2020 quarter.

Capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne experienced a net loss of 11,800 people for the March quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics — the largest net loss on record.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, rentals in Sale for houses average $380, while units average $310.

For someone earning minimum wage, renting a unit in Sale consumes about 40 per cent of their income.

Even in surrounding areas, it is becoming increasingly challenging for people looking to find rentals.

Maffra’s average house rental is $350 a week, with units coming in at $235.

In Stratford, house rentals average $400 a week, and Rosedale $343.

For newcomer to the area Madison Cochrane, the rental struggles have been a constant for her.

She looked first on the Mornington Peninsula with no luck, and she is now looking in her partner’s hometown of Sale.

“We accepted a house in Sale sight unseen; we came up here and it was riddled with mould and was not liveable,” she said.

Ms Cochrane feels she is not being too fastidious when it comes to choosing a property for them to rent.

“All we need is a yard for our dog, and a not bad kitchen.

“We are chefs, so that’s important,” she said.

The Gippsland Times spoke to another resident who recently secured a rental in Maffra, who wished to remain anonymous.

“The agent was extremely helpful in attempting to help me find a rental,” they said.

“He took updated photos and made the whole process of finding a rental sight unseen extremely easy.”

But not all agents are quite as helpful, according to Ms Cochrane.

“We accepted, virtually assuming the pictures were up to date … they were four or five years old,” she said.

They had to back out of their rental agreement, and while the agent agreed to return their money, she said they refused to help them find another property.

They have now been forced to live in a caravan until they can find somewhere to live.

Ms Cochrane and her partner have even begun to offer three months’ rent up front in a bid to try and secure a property, but says they have not even come close to securing a home.

Regional Australia Institute chief economist Dr Kim Houghton said the number of regional residents choosing to stay put had increased, which was likely to be contributing to the housing squeeze in some areas.

For Ms Cochrane, the challenge is growing as owners move into their rental properties.

“Property managers are trying to help current tenants find new properties, while also trying to help new tenants find a place,” she said.

The Commonwealth Bank’s executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking and Regional Australia Institute 2031 Council member Grant Cairns said the experience of lockdowns was front-of-mind for Victorians, so the desire to seek a tree change was rapidly growing.

“It is positive to see the development of infrastructure — particularly in regional areas — is growing to meet the increased demand,” he added.