Low median rent prices could save most south-east Queensland tenants from financial dire straits as property managers report low numbers of rent reduction requests amid high levels of tenant/landlord teamwork.
With the Queensland government passing new rental legislation just days ago that offered watered-down renter protections, industry experts were quick to voice fears of vulnerable tenants being turned aside in lieu of more financially secure applicants.
But while reports of bad behaviour from both sides of the rental fence were inevitable, said Image Property managing director Joel Davis, the feedback from his rent roll of almost 5000 across south-east Queensland painted a different picture – with high levels of cooperation in conjunction with affordable weekly rents proving a saving grace.
“We are definitely seen people working together … only about 1.3 per cent of all our tenancies have had to move towards a payment plan or a rent reduction,” Mr Davis said.
“I also do a lot of work with agencies around the country and Brisbane in particular is definitely less affected [by the coronavirus crisis].”
He said the city’s median weekly rent prices (of $410 per week for houses and $385 for units) were significantly lower compared to Sydney and Melbourne and, combined with the government’s JobKeeper initiative, they would save most tenants from arrears.
Mr Davis further welcomed the government’s updated COVID-19 protections for tenants and landlords, saying the introduction of criteria for rental relief had weeded out disingenuous applicants.
“The various government announcements over the past week have definitely slowed the number of tenants getting in touch,” Mr Davis said.
“Many tenants have also told us that they will be able to meet their financial obligations now, because of the government packages available.”
He said the wheels were very much still turning on the rental industry, with property managers working hard to offer virtual inspections to applicants. His office had handled 45 new leases over the past month.
“We haven’t yet seen a drop … in fact I think Queensland won’t be too impacted,” Mr Davis said.
“In isolated areas such as Kelvin Grove, Toowong and Saint Lucia – where you’ve got a high international student population – we’ve seen such a big drop there, and we’ll see that drop for a while.”
Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella agreed the city’s affordable median rent prices would ease the squeeze for local tenants, and said she’d received reports of high levels of rental activity in what was an economic show of strength amid the crisis.
“I think it will soon be almost business as usual, well, in the new normal,” Ms Mercorella said.
“What’s really interesting is that we’re hearing that rental demand is reasonably strong at the moment and we’re getting feedback from agents reaching out for tenancies.
“It proves to us is that irrespective of any crisis, housing will always be essential and we need shelter whether we own it or rent it.”
Ms Mercorella also put low rates of tenants seeking rent reductions down to some parties having already worked proactively to reach a negotiated outcome and said the level of tenant and landlord cooperation had been heartening.
She also applauded the new legislative framework which was “far more balanced and fairer” and said while there was no perfect solution amid the pandemic, it provided much needed clarity for all parties involved.
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