Bellingen in rental crisis as vacancies fall

Matilda O’Brien and Finn Rhodes have struggled to find a rental in Bellingen.

 

BELLINGEN renters are struggling to find housing as they grapple with record low rental vacancies.

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The town of 3,000 currently has ‘no rental housing available’ according to Cardow and Partners Senior Property Manager, Cassie Gilmore.

“I’ve been in real estate for seven and a half years and I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Ms Gilmore.

COVID-19 has caused a rental crisis as owners move into their investment properties, taking long term rental properties off the market.

“Our owners know they can work from home so they’re moving to Bellingen,” said Ms Gilmore.
Younger and middle age people moving from the cities have compounded the problem.

Three to six rentals would typically be on the market without much interest, said Ms Gilmore but since April up to 30 inquiries are made for each property.

“I put a property online on Tuesday and had to take it down on Thursday because I had at least 30 inquires and application forms submitted,” she said.

For young couple Matilda O’Brien and Finn Rhodes, the struggles of finding a rental property is apparent.

“It’s very tough, there’s nothing online. The only chance is word of mouth which is very slim,” said Mr Rhodes.

The couple, who grew up in Bellingen, were living in Melbourne before COVID but had recently returned to their hometown.

“We came up for a visit and then the second wave hit as we were travelling and we got stuck in Bellingen,” said Ms O’Brien.

Now they say rental prices have doubled in the few years they had lived elsewhere.

“It’s more expensive to rent in Bellingen than it is in Brunswick, Melbourne,” said Mr Rhodes.

 

By Miles PROUST

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