The unpredictable rental market and approaching end of moratorium leave renters in a panic.

Central Mandurah resident Hayley Kersten lives with her 16-year-old sister, Sophie, and their two cats in a home that the pair love.

Ten months ago, Hayley was elated to find the rental property of her dreams right in the middle of Mandurah.

"The place is right in the centre of town, it's an amazing spot," Hayley said.

RENTAL NIGHTMARE: Hayley and her younger sister have got just 4 weeks to find a new place to live after being told the owners of their rental property were selling. Photo: Supplied.

RENTAL NIGHTMARE: Hayley and her younger sister have got just 4 weeks to find a new place to live after being told the owners of their rental property were selling. Photo: Supplied.

Hayley's sister attends John Tonkin College, so finding a home close to the high school was a dream come true.

But their world was turned upside-down when Hayley was notified by the owners of her rental property that they were selling amid the current COVID-19 related rental market shambles.

"I was told I would need to find a new place to live, and with my lease ending in four weeks, it has been a very stressful time."

Hayley began applying for properties right away but found properties were being taken offline before any viewings had occurred.

"I was applying for viewings online minutes after they were posted, and then I would receive an email saying the property had been leased before any viewings actually happened," Hayley said.

Hayley works in Fremantle at an accounting firm, and she has had to use up some of her leave to organise viewings that were sometimes cancelled last minute.

"This time of year is so busy for our firm and I really need to be at work. Most viewings are scheduled weekdays and I just can't get to them."

Hard decisions

The lack of properties in Mandurah and surrounds forced Hayley to look beyond the area, as far as Rockingham.

"I had to sit down with my sister and tell her we might have to find a place quite far from Mandurah, and I asked her if she would be okay with moving schools," she said.

RELOCATION: Hayley and her sister Sophie (pictured) had to discuss the possibility of moving further afield than they had imagined. Photo: Supplied.

RELOCATION: Hayley and her sister Sophie (pictured) had to discuss the possibility of moving further afield than they had imagined. Photo: Supplied.

"My sister said she didn't want to leave all of her friends and that if we ended up moving out of the area, she would wake up earlier to get there by public transport."

Despite widening her search and having an extensive rental history with "glowing reviews" from previous agents, Hayley said she was still met with a 'no' at every turn.

"I remember one day I finally got approved for a viewing but when I arrived there were about 40 cars lined up and down the street - I couldn't believe it."

In the midst of her own personal stresses, Hayley is concerned about the end of the moratorium and what it will mean for the people who will be evicted from their homes.

"If worst comes to worst, my sister and I can stay with a family member - but what about the people who lost their businesses during COVID and have fallen behind on rent? I'm concerned there will be a massive surge in homelessness."

House falling apart

Mandurah mother Melissa Longuet-Higgins was last year in the position that Hayley and her sister are in, desperately searching for a home to move her family into.

"My family and I were searching for three months for a rental," Ms Longuet-Higgins said. "When I finally got a viewing there were more than 50 people there. We were forced to offer more money to secure the place."

SETTLING IN: Melissa Longuet-Higgins (second from left) and her family spent three months searching for a property. Photo: Supplied.

SETTLING IN: Melissa Longuet-Higgins (second from left) and her family spent three months searching for a property. Photo: Supplied.

When she and her family finally moved in they were with countless maintenance issues including a broken oven, broken air-conditioner and a cockroach infestation.

"I felt terrible, I was the only one at the viewing and my family trusted me to find a place - but this place was just falling apart."

The family has since settled into the property and have made improvements but the situation made them starkly aware of just how delicate the property market is.

I felt terrible, I was the only one at the viewing and my family trusted me to find a place - but this place was just falling apart.

Melissa Longuet-Higgins

Deadline looming

Many Peel residents have expressed concern over the state of the rental market and the upcoming end of the moratorium.

The state government imposed a moratorium on rental evictions and price increases in March 2020. But on March 29 ordinary tenancy laws will apply again, allowing landlords to ask existing tenants to pay more rent or ask tenants to leave if they are on a periodic lease, in rent arrears, or have not met other standards and responsibilities.