rent – Michmutters

Owner of seven properties says landlords getting a raw deal

Andrew Duggan owns seven homes, but he wants people to know he’s not a bad bloke.

He’s been flipping properties in Queensland from a home office in Sydney for 25 years and seems acutely familiar with the public perception of landlords.

“Landlords are very unpopular people,” Mr Duggan said.

“There’s the perception of the evil landlord, the cinematic slum lord idea.

“And there’s a perception that landlords are sitting on piles of cash and sitting around on our yachts.

“The reality is whilst we have the titles to these properties, they’re very much mortgaged.”

Man wearing hi-vis shirt mowing the lawn outside.
Landlord Andrew Duggan is considering getting out of the property game.(ABCNews/7.30)

He insisted he was not doing an interview to “cry poor”, but despondently declared “the good times for landlords are over”.

A long-time advocate of buying up real estate, he’s considering selling up and getting out of the property game.

Mr Duggan said the decline of his lucrative portfolio began five years ago when he was locked into an excessive interest rate with a major bank.

But he is also critical of tenancy laws and state-based land taxes.

After years of advocacy from housing organisations, the Victorian, Tasmanian and ACT governments have recently banned landlords from evicting tenants without grounds.

Man trimming a hedge.
Andrew Duggan says he doesn’t want to “profiteer from our tenants.”(ABCNews/7.30)

Queensland, where most of Mr Duggan’s properties are located, also banned the practice, except at the end of a fixed-term rental agreement.

“As far as I can see, landlords have next to no rights and tenants have all the rights. It’s kind of swung a long way in that direction and it’s probably swung too far,” he said.

Mr Duggan said the “default” position of civil courts adjudicating disputes between property owners and their renters was that “the property owner will always lose”.

He said he had increased the rent in at least one of his properties over the last year due to the increase in Queensland’s land tax.

“I’m not a charity, that’s for certain. I think we’re very fair with our tenants. We don’t want to profit from our tenants, but we do want to create an equilibrium between our incomings and outgoings so we’ re not going backwards,” he said.

This couple rent their apartment out for 10 per cent less than it’s worth

A man wearing glasses smiles next to a woman wearing a black top.
“We didn’t want to do what other people had done to us,” landlords Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn say.(ABCNews/7.30)

When Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn bought their own apartment and left the rental market five years ago, the Melbourne-based couple were overwhelmed with relief.

“As tenants [before owning a home] we have been in some situations with great landlords and we’ve been in some situations with terrible landlords,” Mr Shafee said.

“We’ve had uncertain housing in our lives too,” Ms Alcorn added.

With the pair now considering starting a family, they considered their one-bedroom Heidelberg Heights flat too small and have decided to upsize, but said they felt “icky” trying to cash in on the tightening real estate market.

Instead, they’ve offered the property up as an affordable rental and listed it for 10 per cent below what they had been quoted by other agents.

A man wearing a striped scarf standing next to a woman wearing a black top.
Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn felt strongly about keeping their property affordable.(ABCNews/7.30)

“When there is so much pressure with the prices going up and the supply going down it’s really easy for people to be forced into situations where they are taken advantage of, so it’s nice to be able to do something that avoids some of those ethical pitfalls ,” MrShafee said.

“We didn’t want to do what other people had done to us,” Ms Alcorn said.

“That’s one of the reasons we feel really strongly about this.”

Mr Shafee said he and his partner intended to be “ethical” landlords and employ a hands-off approach to their incoming tenant.

“This is not some investment item that we’re talking about, it’s something that someone is going to live in, so it makes a big difference how [the property] is going to be run,” he said.

Mr Shafee and Ms Alcorn are renting the property through HomeGround Real Estate, an agency that offers affordable rentals and donates the profits it makes from management fees to Launch, a community housing organization.

Problem ‘just going to get worse’

woman sitting at a table
Michele Adair says “renters just haven’t been valued.”(ABC News: Tim Fernandez)

Renters’ advocate and chief executive of the NSW Housing Trust Michele Adair said state laws were still skewed in favor of landlords because property in Australia was seen as a means of wealth creation rather than shelter.

“There are lots of really good private landlords [that] provide affordable rental housing, but the problem that we have is that renters just haven’t been valued,” Ms Adair said.

“One in three people rent a home today and probably nine out of ten rents at some stage, yet we have had decades of government policy which just really disregards the rights of tenants and their safety and security.

“We continue to have this myth and fallacy pushed by private interest groups who, as we have seen, just continue to push the wealth creation and profit motive.”

Ms Adair said the so-called “motive” had led to the current rental crisis.

“There is no end in sight and without urgent action by all levels of government. The problem is just going to get worse for the foreseeable future and I’m afraid that means years and not months.”

Watch this story on 7.30 on ABC TV and ABC iview.



Queensland tenants under pressure as rents rise amid calls for compassion from landlords

Queensland is sold to the world as the sunshine state, rich with resources and the golden future home of the Olympics.

Last year, the state’s population swelled by 50,000 interstate migrants, and at the same time a two-speed property market drove a nightmare market for renters.

In the 12 months to July, Brisbane tenants faced an average rent rise of 9 per cent for apartments and 13 per cent for houses.

Throw in the return of overseas migration, low vacancy rates and a building supply crisis, and the state’s tenants union says it is facing a rental crisis where landlords hold all the power.

Cairo Sauvage is in his 20s and lives in a share house in Morningside with his partner and housemates.

They are about to move out after two months of uncertainty after their landlord asked them to renew their lease but did not give them a price.

Fearing the worst, the housemates began looking for new accommodation. At the last minute, the landlord asked for an extra $40 a week, Mr Sauvage said.

“In that time frame of him taking so long to come back, me and my housemates were like ‘we feel like it’s going to be going up’. [In the end] we thought it was going to go up more than it did,” he said.

“We started applying for new places. We got approved for a place so we decided to move.

“Living with other people has its ups and downs, but it drives the cost down. Finding a place that’s a one-unit bedroom is [more than] $350, so it wasn’t doable.”

‘Rent-vesting’ as mortgages too hard to maintain

Mr Sauvage has a unique perspective to the rental crisis as a “rent-vester”, where he lives in a rental but owns a home in the inner-Brisbane suburb of Windsor.

He bought at the peak of the property boom last year with money he had received through an inheritance.

But he cannot afford to live alone in the home and considers it more of a long-term investment.

“I managed to secure something that was a little bit out of my price range, and that is the reason I have turned it into an investment,” he said.

Now a landlord himself, he said tenants hold little power in the arrangement.

“It’s really up to the discretion of the landlord, and that’s what I don’t think is right… how much they want to care for their property and for the tenant’s general wellbeing,” he said.

“If the tenant is terrible, the landlord has powers based on our current legislation to kick them out. If a landlord is terrible, the tenant doesn’t have much to fall back on.”

Rents have increased by more than $60 a week in Brisbane.(ABC News: Nic MacBean)

How COVID changed the rental market

CoreLogic economist Kaytlin Ezzy said COVID reshaped the way Queenslanders chose to live and it was having lasting consequences.

“Through COVID, we saw household size shrinkage. There are more individual households, because people didn’t want to be locked down with roommates, so that has a really strong impact,” she said.

“Anecdotally over COVID, we saw a lot of first home buyers move out of the family home and purchase their first property at the same time that rental yields were at some of their lowest on record.

“For the housing market, the outlook really depends on how hard and how fast the RBA increases interest rates. I do think that Brisbane will be slightly more resilient compared to Sydney and Melbourne markets.

“We do expect that the value declines will become more broad-based and as such will affect more Brisbane markets as we move forward into that downward cycle.”

She said pressure on the rental market was not likely to ease for the foreseeable future.

“Especially as overseas migration returns to that pre-COVID level,” she said.

Headshot of Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr.
Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr.(ABC News: Michael Lloyd)

Queensland’s tenants union, Tenants Queensland, operates an advice call center — QSTARS — for renters, and its chief executive Penny Carr said it was fielding daily calls from tenants in distress.

“Just today on our advice service we had an aged pensioner call us and tell us her rent is going up from $305 to $450 per week,” she said.

“People want to keep a roof over their head so they’ll often prioritize the rent, so they’ve got to not turn the heater on, or not have lunch, or not go out.

“For those people even on moderate incomes now it really is a hard choice… because they’re not having many things that they don’t need already.”

She said there were some avenues of appeal for tenants offered unreasonable rent rises, including raising the issue with the Residential Tenancies Authority and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“The problem with doing that is as a consumer you have to have a fair bit of market knowledge, but the other thing is if the court doesn’t agree with you, you have a fixed term agreement that you’ve just signed.



Tasmanian property investor drop ‘a worry’ for the rental market, REIT says

There are growing concerns a drop in investors buying into Tasmanian real estate could further shrink the availability of rental properties in the state.

The number of investors purchasing a Tasmanian property in the June quarter fell by 20 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

Out of 1,781 properties sold, just 16 per cent were purchased by investors, with even fewer Hobart properties (12 per cent) purchased as investments.

“That’s a worry,” the president of the Real Institute of Tasmania, Michael Walsh, said.

He fears properties being sold could be removed from an already tight rental market that has a current statewide vacancy rate of about 1 per cent.

“That’s probably a big discussion to be had on the implications for the rental market,” he said.

Mr Walsh said 30 per cent of buyers needed to be investors to properly support the private rental market.

“We just don’t have the private investment right now that tries to keep pace with that demand. Where people live is anyone’s guess,” he said.

Supply of affordable rentals ‘falling for over a decade’

Mary Bennett from Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Center said the drop in investment was concerning if it meant properties were leaving the long-term rental market and not being replaced by new supply.



$70m that renters unknowingly owed to NT government is ‘quietly’ waived

Legal advocates say the Northern Territory government has “quietly” wiped $70 million worth of rental debt allegedly owed by remote residents who didn’t know the debt existed.

The existence of the alleged debt came to light when the Santa Teresa community sued the NT Department of Housing for providing uninhabitable housing stock.

In 2016 the government announced it would countersue the residents taking legal action against them, claiming individual households owed up to $21,000 to the department in unpaid rent.

Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights solicitor Dan Kelly represents the Santa Teresa community and said this alleged debt came “out of nowhere” for residents.

“It was obviously very worrying and distressing,” he said.

“They were under the impression they had been paying their rent as instructed through direct debits.”

Freedom-of-information requests revealed the Territory government alleged the community owed a total of $2 million in unpaid rent but had never pursued the debts.

An Indigenous woman stands in front of a basic dwelling.
Annie Young has been part of the years-long legal fight with NT Housing seeking compensation over unsafe housing.(ABC News: Isabella Higgins)

Debt waiver not publicized

Mr Kelly said the wiping of the alleged debt only came to light because a similar countersuit taken out by the government against residents for Laramba was suddenly dropped early this month at the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).

Since 2018, Laramba’s residents have been engaged in legal action against the Department of Housing, arguing they have a right to safe drinking water following revelations theirs contains three times the recommended levels of uranium.

“They announced to the court that the Treasurer has made a determination under the Financial Management Act waiving or writing off any alleged debts,” Mr Kelly said.

“That’s essentially all we know.”

NTCAT heard the decision to wipe the alleged debt was made at the end of June.

In a statement, the government said renters were visited by tenancy officers to advise them historical rental debt up to December 11, 2021 would not be pursued.

The decision to wipe $70 million worth of debt has not been otherwise publicized by the government.

A man wearing a blue shirt with a smiling baby looks at the camera.
The debt waiver came to light when a countersuit against Laramba residents was dropped.(ABC News: Isaac Nowroozi)

‘Failure system’

Mr Kelly said the government’s countersuit against Santa Teresa residents was eventually unsuccessful because “records were unable to support the fact that the amount was in fact owing”.

Wiping these debts means the government can no longer countersue residents who take them to court in this same way, but Mr Kelly said based on the outcome of the Santa Teresa countersuit, it was “questionable” if any debts would have been probable.

“Their records, I think, have been proven to be unreliable.”

In a statement, the government said the rental system was “antiquated” and “ineffective, confusing for tenants and challenging to administer”.

Mr Kelly said the saga surrounding the unpursued and unproven debts was indicative that remote housing policy was “failing” in the NT.

“It’s a policy that failed because Aboriginal-controlled organizations were not part of the conversation and Aboriginal voices weren’t involved in the policy.

“This was money that should have been fixing up houses and making sure they were at a reasonable and comfortable standard.”

Debt forgiven as rent is raised

The decision to waive the alleged debt comes as the government plans to increase rents for many residents in remote communities and town camps as part of the new remote rent framework.

Rent to be raised
The way the NT calculates rent for public housing is changing on September 5.(Supplied)

On September 5 the government will abolish income-based rent setting for these properties and introduce pricing schemes that researchers from the Australian National University found would in turn increase rent for 68 per cent of tenants.

The researchers found rent would increase for 80 per cent of renters in Central Australia and 81 per cent of residents in the Barkly.

“Our view on the new rent system is that it’s not going to work again — it’s been designed without the adequate input of Aboriginal organisations,” Mr Kelly said.

In a statement, the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities said the new framework was “simple” and “has built-in safeguards to protect people from rental stress should the rent tenants pay exceed 25 per cent of household income”.

“Consultation on the Remote Rent Framework began in 2018 with key stakeholders including a working group with leaders from the housing sector,” it said.

“Tenancy officers have gone door to door across more than 80 communities to provide information to tenants about the new framework.”



Queensland renters living ‘on knife’s edge’ after landlords issue new notices to leave in bid to stop ‘lifelong’ tenants

When Lyell Lamborn’s new rental contract arrived, it came with an $80 weekly increase, and a notice to leave the property.

The Form 12 notice explained that her landlord had the right to end her Brisbane tenancy when her lease was up.

The notice came after the peak body for Queensland’s real estate industry recommended all agents implement the “best-practice” strategy in a bid to protect landlords from “lifelong” renters who might automatically roll from fixed-term to periodic agreements, like month-to-month. -month contracts.

Ms Lamborn’s rental property is a near 100-year-old worker’s cottage in Manly with a long list of outstanding repairs.

Last year, a friend of Ms Lamborn’s fell through the worn front steps of the run-down rental.

“I felt that the [rent] increase, which amounted to $80 a week, which is actually a 23 per cent increase in my rent, that was a huge increase for what I consider to be a very dilapidated house,” Ms Lamborn said.

She said she calculated her options in the current market, and felt forced to agree to the increase and, therefore, the notice to leave.

Rent sign of real estate agency outside an apartment building in Brisbane
Rental costs in Brisbane are among the highest of all capital cities in Australia.(ABC News: Liz Pickering)

“I’m being told that if I don’t sign and that, there’s no negotiating on the rent increase, then I’m out,” Ms Lamborn said.

“In this market, I can’t. I’m going to struggle to find something.

“It leaves you on a knife edge, wondering what you’re going to be doing every year… it keeps me up at night.”

Laws coming into effect in October will make it difficult for landlords to end periodic agreements.

‘Are we going to have somewhere to go?’

Dale Billett and Katie Havelberg sit on the couch with two dogs.
Dale Billett and Katie Havelberg were forced to find another property because their West End property was being sold.(ABC NewsAlice Pavlovic)

This weekend Dale Billett and Katie Havelberg are packing up their West End home of four and a half years.

It is also the first week Mr Billet has been out of hospital in four months, after an accident caused the amputation of his lower right leg.

While he was rehabilitating in hospital, the couple found out their home was being sold, and realized they would need to find a new disability-accessible home.

When they did, an unusual contract arrived.

Katie Havelberg with Dale Billett and his amputated leg visible as they sit on the couch.
Dale Billett was recovering from having his leg amputated when he and Katie Havelberg found out they had to leave their rental home.(ABC NewsAlice Pavlovic)

“I was going through the lease and preparing to sign it and at the end was a notice to leave attached,” Ms Havelberg said.

The couple signed the lease contract, but the process of property hunting took a toll.

“It just added an extra burden on top of the burden that was already here,” Ms Havelberg said.

“Sleepless nights, days, where you’re just constantly worrying about, ‘Are we going to have somewhere to go?'”

The couple are now navigating the move, with Mr Billett limited in what he can lift and carry.

‘Like a guillotine over tenants’ heads’

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr in the office.
Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr says the notices are causing renters undue anxiety.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr criticized the industry body over the new practice, which she said was causing undue anxiety for renters already facing a crushing housing market.

“Every Queensland renter would be living with like a guillotine over their head the whole time they live in their home,” she said.

“And if they are good or lucky at the end of that, they might be offered a new fixed term.

“It’s extraordinary to call it best practice.”

A woman looking pensive as she stands outside a building
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella granted the recommendation came at a very difficult time for renters.(ABC News: Lexy Hamilton-Smith)

But the peak body for Queensland’s real estate industry has stood by its recommendation.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said the institute considered sending the forms best practice ahead of new tenancy laws coming into effect in October.

“It doesn’t evict the tenant or threaten the tenant in any way, as Tenants Queensland is suggesting,” she said.

“What it’s simply doing is confirming that that fixed-term tenancy will end on that date.



As rents and mortgage repayments rise, is multi-generational living the secret to thriving in tough economic times?

Staring down the possibility of taking out a large mortgage to buy a house they could barely afford, Luke Saliba and his wife Claire Gooch decided to try something different.

Instead, the young couple moved in with Claire’s mother Sylvia and took out a much smaller mortgage to renovate her house.

“The idea of ​​the nuclear family being disconnected in the suburbs [feels] like it’s been forced upon us over the last 100 years,” Luke said.

“I feel like us challenging that, in this small way, is almost going back to the way things should be.”

Luke and Sylvia sit on the back steps in the sunshine.  Sylvia holds a cup of tea and Luke holds his baby son on his lap from him.
Luke says having a European background means there’s “no stigma attached to living with grandparents”.(ABC News: Rhiannon Stevens)

The living arrangement has allowed Sylvia to stay in her home which was becoming too costly for her to maintain alone.

“I get to stay in a house that I quite like, in an area where I have established friends — it meant that I wouldn’t have any issues,” she said.

Sharing the house has also benefited Luke, Claire and their two young children.

Claire said having a small mortgage of around $350,000 and living in an area with good services meant they were better able to manage financially as the cost of living rises.

“My daughter needs surgery for grommets and adenoids and tonsils,” she said.

“If we didn’t live like this, that would be a problem and we’d be having to make choices between food, rent bills and medical things that the kids have needed.”

Three generations of women sit on a couch reading a picture book to the youngest, who has a dummy in her mouth.
Claire says living with her mother is a great choice but acknowledges that not everyone has the opportunity to tap into generational wealth in this way.(ABC News: Rhiannon Stevens)

Having another adult in the house also meant she and her husband could turn to her mother for advice.

“My mum is very different to how I am and that’s been really good because my kids get stuff that I wouldn’t be able to do with them [and] I get ideas that I wouldn’t have had.”

The living arrangement worked because they tried to relate like housemates, not mother-daughter, she said.

“This is a group house where we’re related, and because we have similar backgrounds … we can probably live together a little bit easier, but living with my daughter is not always easy, but that goes both ways, right?” Sylvia said.

Luke, who is the grandchild of Spanish and Macedonian immigrants, said having a European background meant there was no stigma attached to living with grandparents, and he valued the presence of an older generation in the house.

“If any of us have a bad day, we don’t have to travel to go and touch base and provide that family support. We’ve got it in-house,” he said.

A man, his mother in law and young child sit on the back step of their house in the sunshine.
Sylvia loves being involved in the daily lives of her grandchildren.(ABC News: Rhiannon Stevens)

Multi-generational households growing

Edgar Liu, a senior research fellow at the UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre, said economic circumstances were often the driving factor for people choosing to live in a multi-generational setting.

Dr Liu, who researched multi-generational living over several years and defined them as households with more than one generation of adults, said data from the UK and US showed that the economic shock of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) increased the number of multi -generational households in those countries.

headshot of a man smiling at camera and wearing glasses.
Edgar Liu says multi-generational households are increasing.(Supplied UNSW)

“From the US, in particular, there is evidence that [showed] a normal rate of growth was about 1.5 per cent, for this kind of household,” he said.

“[That] doubled to about 3 per cent as the GFC came on, and then it continued for a couple of years before it died back down to the normal rate of 1.5 per cent.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provided new data to the ABC on households containing three generations.

It showed a small increase in three generational living arrangements over recent years, from 275,000 in 2016 to 335,000 in 2021.

But Dr Liu said the largest growth in Australia had occurred in households where two generations of adults lived together.

While finance, especially the cost of care for both the young and the elderly, influenced people’s decisions to form multi-generational households, Dr Liu said family connection was the benefit most often cited once people had experienced such living arrangements.

But he said in Australia this style of living was still stigmatized.

“Acceptance was very conditional, you had to have a reason to do this, you can’t just want to do it,” he said.

“[For example] your mother was in a wheelchair so that’s why she had to live with you,” was seen as an acceptable reason, Dr Liu said, but if someone simply enjoyed living with their mother it would raise questions.

A father, his two children and his parents sit around a coffee table playing cards.  There is a plate of snacks on the table.
A favorite family activity at Irina’s house is cards.(ABC News: Rhiannon Stevens )

The solution to isolation

Irina Kawar has always lived surrounded by generations of family, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Irina believes a “joint family”, as it’s called in India, can solve much of the isolation and loneliness experienced in Australia today.

“This is a very good solution for the people who feel isolated because isolation is as big a problem in old age as it is in teenagers,” she said.

“It’s a win-win for everyone, isolated teenagers, isolated grandparents — together, they are happy.”

For Irina, living with her in-laws, husband and two daughters also makes financial and emotional sense.

A daughter husband and wife drink tea at a table.
Irina says living with anyone — child, partner or parent — involves sacrifices, but the benefits outweigh the challenges.(ABC News: Rhiannon Stevens)

She said she never felt alone or frustrated learning to be a parent when her children were young because she always had family around to support her.

As migrants in Australia, having grandparents in the house also helped her children maintain a connection to Indian culture and language, she said.

“[The grandparents] follow daily religious practices, so I don’t have to make an additional effort to bring this into [the girls’] life, they can grow up around those practices as naturally as my husband and I did,” she said.

“If it was just the two of us raising our girls, we would need to make the conscious effort to talk to them in Hindi but living with grandparents — they just learn Hindi naturally.”

For those who have never tried living beyond the nuclear family unit, Irina understands there might be trepidation.

But she said sacrifices were made whoever you lived with, whether it was a partner, child, parents or extended family.

“A little sacrifice is all it takes, but the benefits are great.”

an elderly woman and her daughter in her 60s sit at an outdoor table having cups of tea.
Nina Xarhakos has moved in with her mother Maria, and has become her primary carer.(ABC News: Rhiannon Stevens)

Caring for Maria

Decades since she last lived with her parents, Nina Xarhakos moved in with her mother Maria in 2020.

At 92, Maria suffers mobility issues and was becoming isolated after the death of her husband and several close friends, as well as the closure of her Greek social club due to COVID-19.

“I’ve worked in the community sector with Greek-speaking elderly, [so] I’m very aware of how prevalent depression and anxiety is among the elderly,” Nina said.

She said she respected her mother’s desire to stay at home as long as possible.

“It’s satisfying to me to be able to make that sort of contribution towards her quality of life and I think it strengthens our relationship as well.”



Rental stress hits families in Toowoomba with $15 standing between home and homelessness

Fifteen dollars might be spare change to some but, for those trying to contend with feeding a family and grappling with rising costs of living it is a rent rise few can afford.

According to a new survey from Data Finance Analytics Toowoomba, southern Queensland has one of the highest rates of mortgage and rent stress in the country.

The survey of 47,000 people across Australia found 61 per cent of renters were under rental stress, while in Toowoomba 57 per cent of the 240 respondents experienced rental stress.

Lyndal Hood is one of them. She and her husband’s rent has recently risen by $15 a week.

“Our rent went up from $230 to $245 when we got our new lease,” she said.

Ms Hood’s husband works in retail, and she worked in hospitality until forced to take a break after a heart attack late last year.

major sacrifice

Ms Hood said while it may seem like a small amount, it quickly added up.

“That extra $30 to [fortnight]that’s the price of my medications,” she said.

“That means no extra money left over, and it’s not like we’re bludgers.

“If it went up further, we’d have to leave because we can barely cope with what we’ve got.”

Welcome to Toowoomba sign surrounded by flowers
Toowoomba has been known as Australia’s Garden City since the 1940s.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

Ms Hood said she had no choice but to stay in her property and pay the extra amount.

“I feel like we’re just stuck,” she said.

“We look around town at what else is out there and it’s no better than this place. The house across the road is $360 a week and it’s a dive.”

Darling Downs and South West REIQ president Daniel Burrett said rent rises were generally the landlord’s reaction to increasing interest rates.

“Rents are continuing to go up,” he said.

“The average rent price in Toowoomba is in the early $400s. It used to be around the $330 to $340 mark.”

statewide surge

Statewide it is no secret that rent is also surging, particularly in high-growth areas.

According to the Everybody’s Home campaign that coincides with Homelessness Week this week, the average rent on the Gold Coast rose by over 15 per cent in the past three years.

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Kate Colvin said the data proved how many people were at risk of homelessness.

“We know that rental stress is the gateway to homelessness,” she said.

“When you combine surging rents with flat wages you put people in a financial vice and for the past three years that vice has been tightening.”

Ms Colvin said it would not just affect low to middle-income earners and was “a handbrake on the economy right through regional Australia”.

“You have situations where in tourism locations restaurants can’t open every day of the week because they can’t get the staff, or aged care services around the country where they simply can’t get the staff to operate at full capacity,” she said.

“A part of the reason for that is because people won’t move to an area to take up work if they can’t find a house or a property in the rental market.

“In terms of our economic health, particularly in regional Australia, housing is an important part of the picture.”

never been worse

Data Finance Analytics principal Martin Short said he had never seen it as bad.

“Unfortunately, both rental stress and mortgage stress seem to rise and the pressure on households is really stressful and growing,” he said.

“I’ve never seen it so high with almost half of households with a rent obligation finding it really difficult to service it.

“It’s the worst in the high-growth corridors, the areas of the country that have been on a lot of new developments.”

Lowset brick house with For Rent sign out front.
Housing advocate Everybody’s Home says surging rents with flat wages have put people in a “financial vice”.(ABC News: Lucy Robinson)

Rents rose by 12.1 per cent on the Sunshine Coast to an average of $641 per week and 9.4 per cent or $426.21 per week in Cairns.

Ms Colvin said the solution was in social housing.

“Obviously, building social housing would deliver rental properties, but rental properties that are targeted to low-income households who are the ones who are being most squeezed out of the rental market,” she said.

Ms Colvin said this would then free up rentals for people in other income brackets.

“So, it’s a really great solution that really fits the problem,” she said.

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Why is everything so expensive?



Sydney news: Saudi sisters’ Canterbury apartment for rent, with prospective tenants told of deaths

Here’s what you need to know this morning.

Saudi sisters’ apartment for rent

The Sydney apartment where two Saudi sisters were mysteriously found dead has gone back on the rental market, with a disclaimer from the real estate agent.

In June, Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were found dead in separate beds in their Canterbury apartment during a welfare check.

Police said there were no obvious signs of injury or forced entry and called the deaths “unusual.” Neither homicide nor suicide has been ruled out.

The Canterbury Road apartment has now been listed for rent again but prospective tenants have been notified of the recent deaths.

“A crime scene has been established and it is still under police investigation,” the listing reads.

“According to the police, this is not a random crime and will not be a potential risk for the community.”

John Barilaro inquiry

The parliamentary inquiry into former deputy premier John Barilaro’s controversial trade job appointment will summarize public hearings this morning.

Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown, who oversaw the recruitment process for the US-based role, will front the inquiry for a second time.

She first gave evidence five weeks ago but a lot of new information has come to light since then.

The opposition says it plans to question her about her discussions with Trade Minister Stuart Ayres and why she decided the original preferred candidate, Jenny West, was unsuitable.

Labor has previously called for Ms Brown to be stood down.

Goulburn firefighter wins gold

Ellen Ryan has won Australia’s first-ever gold medal in the women’s lawn bowls singles.(Supplied: Bowls Australia)

NSW firefighter Ellen Ryan has made Commonwealth Games history, claiming gold with a two-shot victory in lawn bowls.

The Goulburn brigade member became the first Australian in her sport to win a gold medal in Britain and the first to claim the women’s singles crown.

The 25-year-old got her first taste of the sport in 2008 and made her senior debut for Australia in 2017, narrowly missing out on a spot in the Commonwealth Games team a year later.

Five years on, she’s living out that dream of wearing the green and gold on the world stage.

Rooty Hill station assault

Blacktown’s mayor has publicly condemned violence after three teenage boys allegedly assaulted an off-duty police officer and Blacktown City councilor on Monday.

The teenaged trio were allegedly involved in an assault at Rooty Hill train station, which ended in a 60-year-old chief inspector allegedly being struck multiple times to the head with a bike seat pole.

Mayor Tony Bleasdale said the alleged attack was absolutely despicable and also involved one of the most respected members of the Blacktown City community, Councilor Bob Fitzgerald.

Three teenagers have been charged and police are urging witnesses to come forward.



Calls for better government assistance amid booming rental market

Leading housing experts have called for a major overhaul of the government’s rent assistance program, describing the payments to low-income households as “inadequate” while rental costs continue to skyrocket.

An analysis of the scheme by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) also found households which were not in rental stress were still receiving payments, while people living in hugely expensive areas were not getting enough.

AHURI managing director Michael Fotheringham said the key issue with the government’s rental assistance was that the payments rose with overall inflation and were not directly linked to rising rental costs or geographic rental trends.

“One of the challenges is that it is not targeted to renters in any way,” Mr Fotheringham said.

“Someone in inner-Sydney has the same amount [of support] as someone in Hobart or Perth.”

His analysis of the system found that the new government could save money if it targeted low-income households in areas where rents had risen significantly.

“Some of the households receiving it are not in rental stress. They are relatively low income but paying relatively low rent as well,” he said.

‘I had nowhere else to go’

A woman wearing a blue jacket.
Andrea Ferris says she gets $47 a fortnight in rental assistance.(ABC News: Eddy Gill)

Single mother Andrea Ferris said rent assistance “barely covers milk and bread” for the week and she was barely able to survive as rents increased.

Rents in Ms Ferris’s hometown, the Gold Coast, have increased 21 per cent in the past year.

With vacancies across the country at record lows, she was forced to settle for a three-bedroom house well out of her budget.

“I had nowhere else to go. It was looking pretty scary, I was looking at moving into a friend’s room with the kids,” she said.

“We came three weeks from homelessness.

“I don’t buy fruit and vegetables. The doctor said my iron is low and asked me if I eat red meat and I said, ‘I don’t. I can’t afford it.'”