Tenants win as vacancies rise
Tenants win as vacancies rise

How times have changed.

Just over a year ago, a trendy two-bedroom apartment for lease in the Perth CBD would have had three liftloads of prospective tenants attend a home open, armed with completed application forms.

In Subiaco, a five-bedroom rental neighbouring the cafe strip may have had some prospective tenants locked in a bidding war and would have been snapped up within days.

Now, a similar property joins a list of lonely rentals vacant for four weeks and the agent is only half joking when he says he'll let it out to "anyone who wants it".

Signalling a shift from what was once a fiercely competitive rental market, Real Estate Institute of WA figures show it took an average 26 days to rent out a property in central Perth between October and December last year.

The listing time compares with 21 days for those which remained vacant long enough to be advertised in 2012.

REIWA president David Airey said rental conditions were at a "more normal" level now after boom conditions in 2012.

The CBD has been hit hardest, where apartments took an average 30 days to rent out in the past three months, compared with 22 in 2012.

Mark Hay Real Estate property manager Emma Reay- Heaton said rents at one central city apartment block on her books once commanded more than $650 a week.

But the executives who once approached her with offers well above asking price had now cut back on staff.

"I have struggled to lease similar for $500 with high vacancy periods," she said.

Gow Property client services manager Daniel Kaschull said the city had more than 250 empty rentals and some luxury rentals had been reduced by as much as $500 a week to try to attract tenants.

In the suburbs, the owner of an Osborne Park apartment had yet to find a suitable tenant almost six weeks after advertising the furnished two-bedroom property on Gumtree.

Jim, who declined to give his surname, is asking $360 a week for the furnished apartment and, while he admits to raising the price since he last rented it out a year ago, he is baffled that it still has not been let.

Hegney Property Group chairman Gavin Hegney said belt-tightening in the mining industry and low interest rates had reduced demand for rentals as tenants bought their first homes.

He said long listing times were usually because owners had misread the market.

The West Australian

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