Rental shortages will lead to 'spike in homelessness', Mandurah advocates fear

PeelConnect chairperson Ron Withnell says the rental shortage and expiry of rent relief grants could see a spike in homelessness numbers in Mandurah. Photos: File image.
PeelConnect chairperson Ron Withnell says the rental shortage and expiry of rent relief grants could see a spike in homelessness numbers in Mandurah. Photos: File image.

With weeks until the expiry of a nationwide ban on rental evictions and rental vacancies at a 12-year low, social advocates fear it will dump struggling residents back into poverty and potentially homelessness.

According to the latest REIWA data, WA's rental vacancy rate has dropped to 1.6 per cent, which is the lowest it has been since 2008.

This has seen the small amount of rentals on the Mandurah market in high demand with 11,901 searches conducted for rental properties in the region during July.

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In a council meeting on Tuesday, WestAus Crisis and Welfare Services chief executive Lynn Rogers said she feared this shortage would see an increase in homelessness in Mandurah.

"Our rentals available in WA has dropped back to the same figure as 2008 so it's going to be very bad," she said.

"A recent heatmap highlighted a homelessness problem and a social housing shortfall in every federal electorate.

"The lack of housing people can afford is not only the cause of homelessness but it also prevents people escaping homelessness."

PeelConnect chairperson Ron Withnell said the small supply of rentals was making it difficult for people on a low income to get adequate housing.

"There are no rental properties around because rentals at the moment are going like hot cakes," he said.

"We have fewer homes, fewer rental options, and rental prices are up so that is not conducive to someone who is on a low income."

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Rental shortages is not the only issue concerning homeless organisations as there is only weeks until the expiry of a nationwide ban on rental evictions and rent relief packages could end in September.

Mr Withnell said the upcoming changes could have a devastating impact on homelessness in Mandurah.

"We are expecting there is going to be a homelessness spike if the rent relief grants end in September and I think everyone is expecting a spike," he said.

"It was great when the government brought in the idea that you couldn't be kicked out by landlords but for those people who are in a rental now who won't be able to pay when this incentive ends that is going to be problematic.

"Mandurah is looking at some pretty horrid things unless there is some stimulation somewhere else."