Queensland mum's despair as rental crisis bites: 'Literally nothing'

After losing a long-term rental, the housing affordability crisis has left a single working mum in a very precarious situation.

University teacher Emily Wright, her 13-year-old daughter Dotti and 18-month-old son found out the lease on their Gold Coast home would not be renewed after being sold to an owner-occupier.

Now they are desperately trying to find a new rental property and the only places Ms Wright can afford are hours away.

Single mother Emily Wright and her daughter Dotti pictured on the left, might have to leave the Gold Coast in Queensland (pictured on the right) due to the lack of affordable housing available. Source: Sunrise and Getty
Single mother Emily Wright might have to leave the Gold Coast in Queensland due to the lack of affordable housing available. Source: Sunrise and Getty

"There are literally zero houses for rent under $400 per week on the Gold Coast," Ms Wright told Sunrise.

"You can go to the caravan park for $380.

"There are seven houses available under $450 from Pimpama to Tweed Heads in the Gold Coast.

"Then you still have to compete with a population of 722,000 for one of the seven houses."

On top of that, Ms Wright said agents and landlords are only looking to approve a tenant for a house that's no more than 30 per cent of someone's income.

"That would mean as a sole parent I’d need to be pulling $1500 per week," Ms Wright said.

Property manager comments on 30 per cent rule

While most agents and landlords will only consider applications that satisfy the 30 per cent income rule, senior property manager from The Rental Experts in Queensland, Melissa Bridgens said "it doesn’t have to be the general rule".

"It's not fair with the housing crisis," she said.

"For a single parent working part time with two kids, it may go to 39 percent as long as they have good references."

But not all real estate companies will operate on a case-by-case basis.

Ms Wright told Sunrise she has a perfect tenancy record and is therefore unable to access government crisis support to afford one of the few homes that are available in the Gold Coast.

"The housing crisis in Australia is so bad that unless you have a barrier other than financial — so you’re in immediate threat, you have a disability, or you have a terrible rental history and are blacklisted — only then the housing department will step in and help you," Mr Wright.

"I understand that, but what are you supposed to do if you have a perfect rental history? And your only barrier is that as a sole parent you’re not earning $1500 a week?"

Because of the lack of options in Ms Wright's area, she and her family may be forced to move away from the Gold Coast, which would be particularly devastating for her daughter, who just started high school and got into a competitive program.

“She’s in the Waldorf Excellence Program, which she had to fight to get into,” Ms Wright told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“As a student with a learning disability, that’s the difference between her succeeding and not.

“This program allows my dyslexic child to be an A grade student.”

The Department of Housing apparently gave Ms Wright options of where to move, with the closest one being nine hours from the Gold Coast.

“The Department of Housing was like, you could get somewhere if you consider moving far away to places like Alpha or Charleville [in Central Queensland],” she told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“They told me there was a house in Alpha for $230 a week and the nearest childcare is two hours away."

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