Rental property crisis grows across Broken Hill

By Dylan J. Stone

Broken Hill is facing a rental property crisis.

There are simply not enough rental properties available to meet demand, and applicants are often seeing their applications declined on multiple occasions.

And with few new properties being built in our region the issue is only set to get worse.

With at least two new mines slated for opening in the next few years there are major questions about how Broken Hill is going to handle the influx.

Concern has also been growing around the reasons applicants are receiving rejections, and there’s even been talk about the alleged conduct of some rental agencies and how they are treating applicants – specifically, whether they are being fair and reasonable in their rejections of applications.

One applicant, who not surprisingly requested anonymity, said they had been. “rejected for five separate rental applications all in the space of a month, and I am concerned I won’t be able to stay in Broken Hill if I can’t find suitable housing in the next few weeks. I keep asking, why me? What have I done to be rejected multiple times?”

The sheer numbers applying for individual properties is clearly a deciding factor. One of the Barrier Truth’s employees said this week when he turned up to look at a rental property there were at least 20 people at the viewing.

Patrick Reincke, Property Manager at Outback Real Estate, said “unfortunately, while the demand is high, the supply is quite low.

“There is a high amount of people in the rental market looking for a home and a shortage of properties to house them.”

Corey Pascoe, Property Manager at Century 21 McLeod’s Broken Hill, added, “there has been a significant rental shortage throughout 2022, compared to previous years.

There have been many contributing factors, including construction and mining projects in the community and surrounding areas, film and tourism, buyer demand combined with low interest rates, properties not at an appropriate standard to rent, (and) properties undergoing renovations.”

This perfect storm has now resulted in a significant imbalance between supply and demand, which is playing out with detrimental implications in Broken Hill.
But what of the way applications are handled?

Tara Nadge, Principal at LJ Hooker Broken Hill, said, “we use a standard application which requires proof of identity and income, plus evidence of previous rental history.”
The standard-form application is generally completed online, and most application software has the ability decline a tenant by email, and generally it is not industry practice to give reasons to tenants.

But Mr Reincke at Outback Real Estate said they always provided a reason if an applicant was rejected.

“We always make a phone call to an unsuccessful applicant and let them know why they have been rejected at this time.”

Mr Pascoe also said, “generally, most rejections would be provided verbally”.

The most common reasons for rejection are due to previous tenancy defaults listed on a national tenancy data base, and quite simply the large number of people going for each property.

All agents we spoke to acknowledged both the importance of ensuring applicants’ information was secured, and ensuring the information was not used for potential prejudice or discrimination.

Despite the chronic lack of available rental properties combined with surging demand, there are things tenants can do to increase the likelihood of having their application accepted.

Mr Pascoe said the dominant reasons for an application to be rejected include a tenancy application not fully completed, the supporting documents not provided, if an applicant has supplied false or misleading information, if an applicant has been listed with a default, if an applicant’s rent affordability is not high enough for the asking rent of the property.

And while all the pressure might seem to be on those seeking properties to rent, that frustration can sometimes boil over, with Mr Reincke urging the community to recognise, “as we go through this high demand and short supply period, please treat real estate agencies with respect.”

It’s a good point, with our local agents always trying to do the right thin in a market which can prove very stressful for those looking for a roof over their heads.

If you are concerned about the security of your information, or are concerned you might have been discriminated against, advice can be sought from government bodies including as the Office of Fair Trading, or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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