WA rental moratorium’s end critical to address market problems

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    The end of the COVID-19-related rental moratorium on Sunday is a necessary step to address the rental shortage in Western Australia and lure investors back to the market, according to the state’s peak real estate body.

    Real Estate Institute of Western Australia President Damian Collins said the September decision to extends moratoria on evictions and rent-price hikes had a debilitating effect on the state’s rental market.

    “Since the announcement in September, the Perth vacancy rate has dropped below 1% – the lowest level we’ve seen in 40 years,” Collins said. “There is very little available rental stock on the market, and those people who are actively looking for somewhere to rent are finding it very difficult to secure a place to live. Thankfully, once the moratorium ends investors will have more incentive to buy property in WA. This should increase the number of properties available to rent and help create a more balanced market.”

    Perth median weekly rent increased from $360 in February 2020 to $400 in February 2021, according to REIWA data.

    “From Sunday, property investors will be able to increase rent prices for the first time in 12 months to reflect the changes that have occurred in the market over the last year. We encourage owners and tenants to be reasonable in rent negotiations and to speak with your property managers about what is a fair outcome for both parties,” Collins said. “Whilst it is inevitable prices will rise, WA tenants are still paying a lot less overall than their counterparts around the country.”

    Read more: WA government must step up on housing issues, peak body says

    Earlier this month, the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s latest Housing Affordability Report found that Western Australia remained the most affordable place to rent in the country, despite the rental shortage and record-low vacancy rates.

    “Moving forward, we need to encourage investor activity in WA,” Collins said. “It is continuously overlooked how important property investors are to maintaining a healthy, affordable and balanced rental market. Now that the emergency period is officially coming to an end, investors will be more inclined to buy property in WA again, which will help increase housing supply for tenants.”

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