Rental shortage causing housing crisis
By EMMA O'NEILL! and KIM COUSINS
WHEN Candice Woodward's husband started a new job at Richmond River High School in Lismore, she had no idea it would be so hard to find a house in the city.
Candice has now been searching for six weeks to find a rental property. To view properties and to get to her new job in Ballina, Candice has been driving a two-hour round trip from her farm near Iluka.
Candice said the rental market was so competitive properties advertised in the paper were already taken by the time she and her husband could make inquiries.
"It's also hard to put together each application when you work and to make the viewing times when you live so far away," she said.
Property officer at Wal Murray in Lismore, Brittany Earle, said this time of year was always busy and very competitive in the rental market.
She said a two-bedroom unit in Goonellabah only required one showing recently to attract a new occupant, and the property received about 11 applications in less than three weeks.
Jessica Fawcett also thought finding a rental property would be simple, but the tight rental market is making it difficult.
"We've been looking for months," she said.
"My partner and I have a seven-year-old son and a baby girl on the way, so we need something soon."
They have been living with Jessica's parents since moving to the area.
Both Jessica and her partner work full-time and can afford to pay a reasonable amount of rent, but still cannot find a suitable place to live.
"We can't find anything through any real estate agent in town," she said. "It's ridiculous."
Jessica and Candice are not the only ones having trouble securing a rental property, with many listings on the Northern Rivers attracting a record number of applications.
Real estate agents from Casino, Bangalow and Lennox Head all say there is little in the way of rentals, but a huge demand.
"We're managing over 200 properties at the moment," Michael King, from Elders Lennox Head, said.
"I really feel for the% tenants."
Sue DeLaMare, a real estate agent for Wal Murray in Lismore, said she can't see the situation getting any better.
"Our community is growing, we need to keep building," she said.
Ms DeLaMare also said to keep applying and not to take the rejection personally.
"We might have several excellent applicants for a property, but unfortunately only one can get it," he said.
"There's just not enough to go around."
It would be easy to lay the blame on university students at this time of year, but many now hold on to their accommodation over the summer break.
"Students don't vacate any more," Ms DeLaMare said. "They realise they may not find another place when they come back."