Call for property owners to release rental properties to help flood victims

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) and Q Shelter are urgently calling on Queensland property owners to turn their holiday rentals and vacant properties into long-term rentals to help homeless flood victims.

With thousands of residents across southeast Queensland losing their homes, demand for rental properties is incredibly high. 

Before the catastrophe, southern Queensland was already experiencing a ‘crippling’ vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent, according to SQM, with many flood victims now being forced into crisis accommodation for lack of long-term rental accommodation.

Meanwhile, the REA had previously reported the Gold Coast was in the national top 10 for rent increases last year, rising 17 per cent in 12 months, while Richmond-Tweed saw the second-largest rental increase at 20.9 per cent.

Chief Executive Officer of the REIQ, Antonia Mercorella, is urging property owners to move their holiday rentals onto the long-term market as soon as possible.

“The Queensland rental market was already at historically low vacancy rates leading up to the recent flood crisis,” Ms Mercorella said.

“As we have seen, the catastrophic floods have resulted in thousands of rental and owner-occupied properties impacted by the floods, further reducing rental stock. 

“At the same time, displaced tenants and owner-occupiers are now hitting the market desperate for alternative accommodation, adding to the already unprecedented demand for long-term rental accommodation. 

“It is difficult to see any way that this wave of demand can be met without the support of property owners moving their properties to the long-term rental market.”

Executive Director of Q Shelter, Fiona Caniglia, said the situation is dire for many flood victims.

“The number of people in Queensland facing homelessness will grow significantly unless we see more properties coming onto the long-term rental market,” Ms Caniglia said.

“People who have lost everything to the floods need the security of a home if they are to recover.

“The longer people live with the anxiety of not knowing where home will be, the greater the impact on our society.”

According to Ms Mercorella, there are approximately 200,000 properties in Queensland that are either vacant or used for short-term and holiday letting purposes.

REIQ is already briefing local real estate agencies about getting properties moved to long-term rentals.

The REIQ and Q Shelter are also calling on the Queensland Government to do more for property owners who wish to place their properties onto the long-term rental market. 

“The current State Labor Government could do a lot more to reward property owners who chose to place their property on the long-term rental market, and incentivise property owners to place or return their properties to the long-term rental market,” Ms Mercorella said.

Ms Caniglia said there are families and children in desperate need.

“As people struggle to recover, anyone with appropriate properties can make a significant difference,” she said.

“Every vacant property that can be tenanted could be a home for someone going through the challenge of flood recovery. 

“This includes children who need to know they have a home and are safe. We have seen what Queenslanders can do to help others. 

“The Mud Army is just one example of how we care deeply about the wellbeing of our Queensland community.”

Ms Mercorella said everyone needs to come together to overcome this crisis.

“People are digging deep to help neighbours, family and friends,” she said.

“We are pleading with people with empty properties, or properties let on the short-term rental market to consider the many benefits of bringing those homes and apartments onto the long-term rental markets.

“This is a crisis, and we need every available property we can find to come into the market. And the real estate industry is here to help”.

Local real estate agencies are being briefed on the campaign and will be ready and willing to assist property owners in moving their properties onto the long term rental market quickly.

Property owners unsure of whether their property is suitable for such a change can contact their local real estate for advice.

In addition, several not-for-profit real estate agencies supply property management services to the broader community while investing profits into the construction of affordable housing for those people doing it tough.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.