Rental difficulties on the rise for South West tenants

Rising rents, decreasing vacancies and an increase in no-grounds terminations across South Western NSW are a huge cause for concern, with the potential to impact housing stability for many vulnerable people in Albury, Wagga Wagga and Goulburn.

According to statistics from VERTO’s Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (TAAS), the current rental market volatility in the South West is leading to a rise in issues for tenants.

From the previous year, on average, VERTO’s TAAS has seen an increase of 61 per cent of people experiencing an increase in their rent. This includes tenants from Albury, Wagga Wagga and Goulburn.

“These increases are simply not manageable or sustainable for many tenants,” VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell said.

“Many are still feeling the financial impacts of COVID-19 and may already be in rental arrears. The consequences of being unable to afford housing are significant, and include ongoing housing instability and/or homelessness.”

The Albury, Wagga Wagga and Goulburn regions are also experiencing rapidly decreasing rental vacancy rates, with vacancies in some areas as low as 0.7 per cent.

“When you have a situation where rents are rising, and it’s incredibly difficult to find new housing, you, unfortunately, have a perfect storm for many tenants,” Mr. Maxwell said.

No-Grounds Termination Notices, whereby a lease is terminated without reason, are also on the rise across the South West, with an 86 per cent increase in Goulburn alone. In the last 12 months, one in three tenants who sought assistance from VERTO’s TAAS had received one of these notices.

“Anecdotally, our team are reporting increased anxiety amongst tenants when it comes to requesting maintenance or repairs, worried that the request may lead to a no-grounds termination. This is a concern as we approach the winter months, and heating becomes a necessity,” Mr. Maxwell said.

VERTO’s TAAS is continuing to support growing numbers of tenants facing difficulties, many of whom face additional challenges, such as financial hardship or domestic violence.

“Housing instability, or fear of it, can have a raft of social impacts, particularly for some of the most vulnerable in our community. For those experiencing domestic violence, it may lead to a difficult choice – staying with a perpetrator or sleeping rough; a choice no one should have to make,” Mr. Maxwell said.