Young family forced to live in tent as Australia's rental crisis explodes

·News Reporter
·6-min read

Queensland's rental crisis is forcing families out of homes and into cars and tents with many unable to find suitable rental properties.

Rental vacancy rates have hit record lows across the state, and other parts of Australia too, causing a shortage of affordable housing for renters.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of tenants have been left without a roof over their head, or paying sky-high prices to beat the competition.

There are a few reasons why rent prices are rising so quickly, Tim Lawless, Research Director at CoreLogic Australia told Yahoo News Australia.

Sushannah Taylor living in a tent with her family with no pace to rent
Mum of two Sushannah Taylor was forced out of her rental property in Bundaberg, Queensland and has been unable to find a suitable home for her family. Source: TikTok

"Ultimately this comes back to a disconnect between supply, which remains extremely low, and demand which remains very high," he said.

As for low rental supply, "one of the reasons can probably be attributed to the long period of declining investment activity between 2015 and 2021," he said.

"We are also seeing demand for rental rising now that overseas travellers and migrants are returning to Australia. Overseas arrivals would typically have a requirement for rental accommodation rather than purchasing."

Mr Lawless said rental houses have become smaller during the pandemic too as "households seek out more space and look to utilise additional bedrooms to work from home".

"If this is the case, smaller households would flow through to higher demand," he added.

Increase of homeless families living in tents

Mum-of-two Sushannah Taylor has been jumping around campsites in Bundaberg, Queensland, after their landlord decided to sell their rental home in Roma, in the state's outback.

She'd been living in the house with her husband Tristan, 22, and their two daughters – Delilah, aged two, and six-month-old Luna – and they've been unable to find something since.

Ms Taylor said they couldn't find a new rental in time and their area became "unaffordable to rent in", so they packed their belongings into a car and now sleep in a tent each night.

"It’s not so much being homeless that is most scary, it’s not so much sleeping in a tent that is scary, it’s sort of like camping... it’s the not knowing," the mum-of-two said online.

She admitted to calling multiple homeless shelters but they all appear full, she said.

"We’ve got the money to move into a rental, we have that money. The problem is the rental crisis, there is no affordable housing," she said, according to Seven News.

Ms Taylor has shared the family's unfortunate situation on TikTok, revealing exactly how the family get by each day.

"We miss out on a lot of nutrition, basic hygiene is difficult to maintain, it gets really overheated in the tent and then it gets really cold," she reveals in one clip.

Meanwhile, Tailah Dippel, who's expecting her second child in a matter of months, has also been priced out of the Bundaberg housing market.

Queensland is experiencing a major housing crisis much like other parts of the country. Source: Getty
Queensland is experiencing a major housing crisis much like other parts of the country. Source: Getty

"We just can’t find anywhere to live. There’s not enough places and too many people," she said on ABC's AM on Wednesday.

"My partner’s got a full-time job, he’s making decent money and we can afford it, but there’s just not enough places."

Her family were forced into a tent as well, but they're struggling to find somewhere to camp.

Many of the caravan parks are booked, which leaves them with two options, Ms Dippel said.

"We go camping in the bush, which is usually week-long stays, or [choose] the 24-hour rest stops," she explained.

Another woman, Kristie, said the housing dilemma is an "absolute joke". Even with a full-time job she's ended up homeless as the market's too competitive.

'Unsustainable pressure on the housing sector'

South Brisbane MP Amy MacMahon told the Guardian that "we’re in a housing crisis here in Queensland".

For every property listed to lease, there'll be hundreds of applications. And for the person who gets it, they've usually offered to pay a premium – more than the asking price.

Sushannah Taylor packed her belongings into her car and is living in a tent and details life on TikTok
The 20-year-old is currently living in a tent with her partner and their two kids who are desperate to find somewhere more permanent to live. Source: TikTok

Cameron Kusher from the REA group noted a massive decrease in total properties listed for rent nationally in April.

"In March we reported the huge reduction in rental listings highlighting the challenges faced by those seeking a rental property," he posted on Twitter.

"The number of total properties listed for rent nationally fell a further -11.6% over the month of April 2022. Now down -26.5% year-on-year."

Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said the lack of rental availability was putting unsustainable pressure on the housing sector.

"We’re seeing an unprecedented level of diminishing rental availability that’s placing significant pressure on our state’s housing sector — so much so that it’s unsustainable and why urgent action is required to better support both increased and ongoing property investor activity in the Queensland property market and the contributions they make to the state economy," Ms Mercorella told Realestate.com.au.

'Dire situation' for NSW

As house prices continue to soar in NSW, both renters and buyers are struggling to keep up.

"The housing affordability crisis we are seeing right now is a dire situation,” Local Government NSW President Darriea Turley AM said in a statement.

“Housing affordability is arguably the most pressing issue right now affecting communities across the state."

Ms Turley said the economic impacts of bushfires, floods and the Covid-19 pandemic have added to a higher need for affordable housing, "exacerbating the pre-existing shortfall".

But recent floods have wiped out thousands of homes in the Northern Rivers of NSW too.

"This has put added pressure on seasonal and visitor accommodation, making it impossible for businesses to attract workers who can’t find an affordable home to live," she said.

"People are sleeping in cars, caravan parks are overflowing, and we see these same pressures impacting families and communities right across NSW."

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