There has been a large increase in the number of properties available for rent in the Byron Shire, as former Airbnb and short-term holiday letting properties start returning to the long-term residential market.
Local housing economist Thomas Keily describes the surge as ‘unprecedented.’
He told The Echo, ‘That label is getting bandied about a lot right now, but we’re talking about 500 properties in the Northern Rivers region in the last two weeks. That’s a 50 per cent increase on a year ago. Those numbers are substantial.
‘This is a trend we’re seeing in a number of popular tourism destinations. ‘Properties available for rent have increased 55 per cent in Cairns and 38 per cent in the Whitsundays,’ Mr Keily said.
Mr Keily cites rental data from real estate platform Domain, which shows that across the country, the number of rental properties has increased 20 per cent relative to a year ago, largely on the back of tourism hot-spots.
However, according to Domain economist Trent Wiltshire, there are a number of compounding factors working to create a looser rental market.
He says, ‘We’re seeing people are also moving back home and share houses are breaking up because people are worried about their jobs or struggling to pay their rent’.
‘People have also likely gone back home overseas as well. In combination, we’re certainly seeing more rentals hitting the market.
‘This is probably going to put some downward pressure on rents. While some renters are facing tough economic times at the moment, there’s some good news in that now might be a good time to get a good deal or renegotiate with your landlord,’ Mr Wiltshire said.
While Mr Keily acknowledges that the local market balance is moving back in favour of renters, he does not expect rents to fall overnight.
‘You’ve got to remember that the Byron Shire’s rental market is notorious, and until recently, was incredibly tight. Houses defined as “affordable” by community housing providers were practically non-existent.
‘The rental market is also a very stodgy market. People work on longer-term contracts and form emotional bonds with their places of residence. A shock like this will take a while to filter through the market.
‘However, yes, in the immediate term, rents are likely to fall. How far and for how long really depends on how long this crisis lasts. That’s anybody’s guess,’ Mr Keily said.